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Promoting ethics for human enhancement technologies: SIENNA project Policy Brief #5

Yasemin J. Erden; Philip Brey

Human enhancement is a modification aimed at improving human performance beyond what is typical or average, brought about
by science-based and/or technology-based interventions in or on the human body. Some forms of human enhancement (e.g., cosmetic surgery, doping in sports), have existed for a long time. Recent developments in science promise substantial advancements.

Developments in genomics, pharmaceutics, prosthetics, neurotechnology, biomedical engineering, human-machine interaction, artificial intelligence and nanomedicine have unlimited potential to create future humans with superhuman physical and mental abilities.

Some human enhancement is controversial socially and morally. They promise the advancement of humanity, but also introduce serious risks to health and well-being, freedom, and equality. Human enhancement research and development can be missed in ethical and legislative review. The field is broad, and enhancement potential can be difficult to predict, especially if such potential is not actively sought. In all cases, guidance is needed.

SIENNA research has identified that there is insufficient guidance available for responsible decision-making on these topics, whether in research, development, deployment or use of technologies with enhancement potential. This brief presents some urgent actions and recommendations for policy makers.

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