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April NUI Galway Host Seminar and Workshop on Human Enhancement Technologies
NUI Galway Host Seminar and Workshop on Human Enhancement Technologies
Dr Mirko Daniel Garasic, a Research Scholar, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights and Adjunct Professor in Bioethics, with LUISS University in Rome, will deliver a seminar at the University entitled ‘Beyond Normality? Technologies Between Assistance and Enhancement’. The seminar will take place on Friday, 5 April, from 12.30-5pm in the Moore Institute, Hardiman Building.
The ongoing development of new technologies to replace or improve human functions pose a number of pressing Ethical, Legal and Societal (ELS) questions. These questions relate to issues relating to personal experiences and public acceptability, human freedom and equality, safety, and accountability over such new technologies and their uses.
During the event a number of questions related to current and emerging developments will be discussed including:
- The evolving notion of human enhancement, understood as improvement beyond the norm, in relation to specific technologies (biomedical, machine-based or genomics) and their various contexts of application (healthcare, education, workplace, military/defence).
- Wearable Robots such as exoskeletons or robotic suits that may replace lost body functions, for example after spinal injuries, or enhance functioning, for example increasing lifting strength for workers in logistics centres, healthcare or the military.
- New ‘algorithmic age’ where human choices are increasingly influenced by ‘Big Data’ and dependent on mathematical and computational algorithms, with applications as mundane as the curation of Facebook newsfeed or product suggestions on Amazon, but also highly impactful AI-supported medical diagnosis or even decisions on child protection measures or criminal justice matters.
- The use of cognitive enhancements (e.g. the drug Ritalin) in competitive contexts, such as employment and higher education, leading to questions of a “cognitive arms race” among students and workers in the knowledge economy.
To help with such questions, Dr Garasic will be working with NUI Galway’s Dr Heike Felzmann and Dr Oliver Feeney on the topic of wearable robotic and enhancement technologies.
Dr Oliver Feeney, a researcher with the Centre of Bioethical Research and Analysis in NUI Galway, said: “Futuristic technologies are being developed that have immense potential for benefiting humankind, while also having the significant potential for negative consequences for individuals and wider society. This highlights the urgent need for ongoing ethical, legal and societal impact discussions, involving a wide range of perspectives, in order to contribute to the development of robust regulations and legislative frameworks, both nationally and globally.”
The seminar will conclude with the official launch of the project ‘B-CAUSE: Building Collaborative Approaches to University Strategies against Exclusion in Ireland and Africa: pedagogies for quality Higher Education and inclusive global citizenship’. Led by NUI Galway’s Dr Su-ming Khoo and Professor Paul Prinsloo, University of South Africa, B-CAUSE is a collaboration between the two universities.