Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Not all ethics are created equal

WorldChanging announces the formation of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, "a new organization dedicated to the responsible, constructive examination of 'human enhancement technologies' -- the biological, informational, and social technologies allowing us to live happier, healthier lives."

Sounds good, but here's the interesting part:

"WorldChanging readers (and contributors!) may not agree with some of the positions and arguments adopted by IEET, but should appreciate its purpose: to promote the ethical use of technologies to expand human capabilities."

No offense, but purpose is not enough when we're talking ethics. You know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all...

The IEET "works closely" with the World Transhumanist Association. And far be it from me to say I know better than an Oxford philosopher, but transhumanism really weirds me out.

No, I don't think it's dangerous in the same ways that, say, Francis Fukuyama claims, or that certain scientific research should be entirely prohibited, but as an ethical position it is not a given.

So, while I certainly support greater attention to the ethics of technological development, I would - and should - be careful to define what those ethics are. Otherwise the IEET might appear to represent all ethical positions instead of just their own.

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