During this edition Christopher Macklin joins me again to discuss aliens, nano technology and mind control. Visit his website at www.christophermacklinministries.com
Ethics of nanotechnology is the study of the ethical issues emerging from advances in nanotechnology and its impacts.
According to Andrew Chen, ethical concerns about nanotechnologies should include the possibility of their military applications, the dangers posed by self-replicant nanomachines, and their use for surveillance monitoring and tracking. Risks to environment to public health are treated in a report from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment as well as is a report of the European Environment Agency. Academic works on ethics of nanotechnology can be found in the journal Nanoethics.
According to the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics possible guidelines for an Ethics of nanotechnology could include:
- Nanomachines should only be specialized, not for general purpose
- Nanomachines should not be self replicating
- Nanomachines should not be made to use an abundant natural compound as fuel
- Nanomachines should be tagged so that they can be tracked
Ethical concern about nanotechnology include the opposition to their use to fabricate Lethal autonomous weapon, and the fear that they may self replicate ad infinitum in a so-called gray goo scenario, first imagined by K. Eric Drexler. For the EEA  the challenge posed by nano-materials are due to their properties of being novel, biopersistent, readily dispersed, and bioaccumulative; by analogy, thousands cases of mesothelioma were caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust. See nanotoxicology. Nanotechnology belongs to the class of emerging technology known as GRIN: geno-, robo-, info- nano-technologies. Another common acronym is NBIC (Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, and Cognitive Science). These technologies are hoped - or feared, depending on the viewpoint, to be leading to improving human bodies and functionalities, see transhumanism.
Loss of human identityIn the U.S., the Amish are a religious group most known for their avoidance of certain modern technologies. Transhumanists draw a parallel by arguing that in the near-future there will probably be "humanish", people who choose to "stay human" by not adopting human enhancement technologies. They believe their choice must be respected and protected.
In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against many of the technologies that are postulated or supported by transhumanists, including germinal choice technology, nanomedicine and life extension strategies. He claims that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to "improve" themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome technologically. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.
Biopolitical activist Jeremy Rifkin and biologist Stuart Newman accept that biotechnology has the power to make profound changes in organismal identity. They argue against the genetic engineering of human beings because they fear the blurring of the boundary between human and artifact. Philosopher Keekok Lee sees such developments as part of an accelerating trend in modernization in which technology has been used to transform the "natural" into the "artefactual". In the extreme, this could lead to the manufacturing and enslavement of "monsters" such as human clones, human-animal chimeras, or bioroids, but even lesser dislocations of humans and non-humans from social and ecological systems are seen as problematic. The film Blade Runner (1982) and the novels The Boys From Brazil (1976) and The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) depict elements of such scenarios, but Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is most often alluded to by critics who suggest that biotechnologies could create objectified and socially unmoored people as well as subhumans. Such critics propose that strict measures be implemented to prevent what they portray as dehumanizing possibilities from ever happening, usually in the form of an international ban on human genetic engineering.
Science journalist Ronald Bailey claims that McKibben's historical examples are flawed and support different conclusions when studied more closely.For example, few groups are more cautious than the Amish about embracing new technologies, but, though they shun television and use horses and buggies, some are welcoming the possibilities of gene therapy since inbreeding has afflicted them with a number of rare genetic diseases. Bailey and other supporters of technological alteration of human biology also reject the claim that life would be experienced as meaningless if some human limitations are overcome with enhancement technologies as extremely subjective.
Writing in Reason magazine, Bailey has accused opponents of research involving the modification of animals as indulging in alarmism when they speculate about the creation of subhuman creatures with human-like intelligence and brains resembling those of Homo sapiens. Bailey insists that the aim of conducting research on animals is simply to produce human health care benefits.
A different response comes from transhumanist personhood theorists who object to what they characterize as the anthropomorphobia fueling some criticisms of this research, which science fiction writer Isaac Asimov termed the "Frankenstein complex". For example, Woody Evans argues that, provided they are self-aware, human clones, human-animal chimeras and uplifted animals would all be unique persons deserving of respect, dignity, rights, responsibilities, and citizenship. They conclude that the coming ethical issue is not the creation of so-called monsters, but what they characterize as the "yuck factor" and "human-racism", that would judge and treat these creations as monstrous. In book 3 of his Corrupting the Image series, Dr. Douglas Hamp goes so far as to suggest that the Beast of John's Apocalypse is himself a hybrid who will induce humanity to take "the mark of the Beast," in the hopes of obtaining perfection and immortality.
At least one public interest organization, the U.S.-based Center for Genetics and Society, was formed, in 2001, with the specific goal of opposing transhumanist agendas that involve transgenerational modification of human biology, such as full-term human cloning and germinal choice technology. The Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future of the Chicago-Kent College of Law critically scrutinizes proposed applications of genetic and nanotechnologies to human biology in an academic setting.
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