The Enhanced Humans: Risks and Opportunities

Scientists, ethicists, and other experts gather to discuss the promises and potential consequences of advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence aimed at improving human performance.

Published May 10, 2018

NEW YORK, May 10, 2018 — From eye glasses that restore sight to robotic prosthetics to replace limbs, people throughout history have sought to overcome the limitations of the human body. New advancements in such technologies and their implications will be explored at “The Enhanced Human: Risks and Opportunities,” presented by the Aspen Brain Institute, The Hastings Center, and the New York Academy of Sciences at the Academy’s headquarters on Monday, May 21 at 6:00pm.

This evening event will include short presentations and a panel discussion examining the scientific and ethical implications of existing and rapidly emerging technologies with applications for human enhancement. Special emphasis will be placed on CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology and artificial intelligence. Experts from multidisciplinary fields will provide historical perspective and scientific background before discussing the vast opportunities of these cutting edge technologies and delving into the complex ethical and social questions still to be addressed.

The program will begin with introductory sessions on “The History and Science of Human Enhancement” and “Present and Future Bioethical Considerations,” featuring brief talks from renowned geneticist George Church (Wyss Institute at Harvard University), biomedical ethics and policy expert Josephine Johnston (The Hastings Center), technology futurist Jamie Metzl (Atlantic Council), and artificial intelligence specialist Meredith Whittaker (AI Now Institute at NYU).

These introductory sessions will be followed by a lengthy panel discussion moderated by Mildred Z. Solomon, distinguished health care and science policy expert and president of The Hastings Center. The panel is comprised of the aforementioned speakers and Glenda Greenwald, president and founder of the Aspen Brain Institute. A speaker networking reception will close the event. For those unable to attend the event in person, the event will be available via Livestream.

This event was made possible, in part, through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

Note to reporters/editors, if you would like more information about this event or to interview one of the panelists, please contact:

Robert Birchard
The New York Academy of Sciences
Desk: 212-298-8689 Email: rbirchard@nyas.org

About the Aspen Brain Institute

The Aspen Brain Institute convened its first meeting co-presented with the New York Academy of Sciences in 2010 focused on Neurotechnology: Building Better Brains. Since 2010, the Aspen Brain Institute has partnered with the Academy on six symposia and a social impact challenge. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Aspen Brain Forum Foundation supports and produces scientific meetings covering topics ranging from neuroprosthetics to the developing human brain. The Foundation’s mission is to:

  • Organize, produce, and host an annual high-level meeting of international brain researchers, in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences, leading to global collaborations and breakthroughs in world brain science.
  • Present and disseminate the most cutting-edge innovations in brain science.
  • Ally with large new initiatives, such as the American Brain Coalition, the American Brain Foundation, and One Mind for Research, to prevent and cure brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, and depression, within a decade.

About The Hastings Center

The Hastings Center addresses fundamental ethical and social issues in health care, life sciences research, and biomedical technologies. The Center’s goal is to promote compassionate and just health care and the wise use of emerging technologies. Through its scholars’ writing and speaking, and through the work of the many people from around the world who participate in its projects or submit articles to its two journals, The Hastings Center shapes ideas that influence key opinion leaders, including health policy-makers, regulators, lawyers, legislators, and judges, as well as health care executives, physicians and nurses. Founded in 1969 by philosopher Daniel Callahan and psychoanalyst Willard Gaylin, The Hastings Center is the oldest independent, nonpartisan, interdisciplinary research institute of its kind in the world. In addition to producing original research, it accomplishes its mission through public engagement and service to the field of bioethics. To learn more, please visit www.thehastingscenter.org/.

About The New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.