Biotechnology and the Human Good

Biotechnology and the Human Good

Biotechnology and the Human Good

Biotechnology and the Human Good

Synopsis

Some of humankind's greatest tools have been forged in the research laboratory. Who could argue that medical advances like antibiotics, blood transfusions, and pacemakers have not improved the quality of people's lives? But with each new technological breakthrough there comes an array of consequences, at once predicted and unpredictable, beneficial and hazardous.

Outcry over recent developments in the reproductive and genetic sciences has revealed deep fissures in society's perception of biotechnical progress. Many are concerned that reckless technological development, driven by consumerist impulses and greedy entrepreneurialism, has the potential to radically shift the human condition -- and not for the greater good. Biotechnology and the Human Good builds a case for a stewardship deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian theism to responsibly interpret and assess new technologies in a way that answers this concern.

The authors jointly recognize humans not as autonomous beings but as ones accountable to each other, to the world they live in, and to God. They argue that to question and critique how fields like cybernetics, nanotechnology, and genetics might affect our future is not anti-science, anti-industry, or anti-progress, but rather a way to promote human flourishing, common sense, and good stewardship.

A synthetic work drawing on the thought of a physician, ethicists, and a theologian, Biotechnology and the Human Good reminds us that although technology is a powerful and often awe-inspiring tool, it is what lies in the heart and soul of who wields this tool that truly makes the difference in our world.

Excerpt

Listening to Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading in England, enthuse about his research is like listening to a prepubescent schoolboy describing his trip to Disney World. Warwick claims to be the world's first cyborg: part human, part machine. On Monday, August 24, 1998, he had a silicon chip transponder surgically implanted in his forearm. Once fitted with this new implant, he returned to his laboratory, where the doors opened automatically, lights turned on as he walked into rooms, and his computer greeted him every morning. As thrilling as this was, it was only the beginning.

In March 2002, Warwick embarked on Project Cyborg 2.0. This time, surgeons at Oxford's Radcliffe Infirmary implanted a 100-microelectrode array directly into the median nerve fibers of his left arm. This new device allowed the professor's nervous system, including his brain, to be connected directly to a computer. As a result, Warwick was able to control a robotic arm in his lab, drive an electric wheelchair with minimal hand movement, and, through a secret Internet connection, control an articulated robotic arm on another continent. He was both able to send signals across the ocean and receive them directly into his nervous system.

Warwick's wife, Irena, volunteered to have a similar implant placed in her wrist, allowing husband and wife to [communicate] directly through the computer, thereby becoming the world's first cyborg couple.

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