Superhumains

Superhumains.ch: The Next Generations

Photo credit: Getty Images

Aims
Supported by an SNFS Agora grant, the goal of the project superhumains.ch is to educate, inform and dialogue with high school (Matura) and professional students (Berufsschule) about bioethical issues regarding the use of emerging technologies on humans.

Context
Recent technological progresses have made technological modifications of human beings a real possibility. Many ‘normal traits’ may be artificially enhanced. Therefore, ethical issues related to human enhancement have started to be seriously considered by scholars around the world. While such a technological kind of revolution concerns the society as a whole, debates addressing the ethical issues related to human enhancement have mainly been restricted to academics. While lay people are frequently informed by the media about the present – or future – use of emerging technologies to enhance human capacities, they are either largely unaware of the discussions addressing ethical issues of human enhancement or might lack some tools to understand and participate fully into the discussions. Additionally, the media has largely overlooked socio-ethical issues related to the utilization of those new technologies on humans. Basically, one notices two extreme reactions: the ‘yeah’ and ‘yuck’ factors, which describe emotional responses regarding the use of emerging technologies to enhance human beings. Such reactions are based on the difficulty to come up with well-argued and rational arguments, beyond emotional reactions that might come naturally first. However, biomedical ethics has developed normative tools that may be useful for lay people to transform emotional reactions into a rational and informed understanding of what is at stake regarding socio-ethical issues related to human enhancement.

Methods
The objective of ‘Superhumains.ch’ is to dialogue with and give high school and professional students the opportunity to think, write and illustrate about these issues as part as their biology and/or art courses. The first step of the project is to dialogue and inform the students of both already existing as well as future potential possibilities to technologically modify human beings. The second step is to give them conceptual tools that will help them to construct strong arguments related to socio-ethical issues related to human enhancement. The third step is to give the students the opportunity to share their thinking about such issues to a larger public through an exhibition and a public presentation of their projects.

Dates
Project start: 01.02.2014 Project end: 31.01.2016

Scientific project coordinator
Johann Roduit

Research associate
Dr. Vincent Menuz