Published August 31, 2019 | Version V3
Project deliverable Open

SIENNA D3.6: Qualitative research exploring public attitudes to human enhancement technologies

  • 1. Kantar (Public Division)
  • 1. University of Twente
  • 2. Sciences Po
  • 3. Uppsala University
  • 4. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
  • 5. EUREC Office
  • 6. University of Granada
  • 7. Ionian University
  • 8. Trilateral Research


The SIENNA project – Stakeholder-informed ethics for new technologies with high socio-economic and human rights impact (website: – is a European Union (EU) funded project which is part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 786641. It deals with three emerging technology areas: human genomics, human enhancement, and artificial intelligence (AI) & robotics.

This report presents findings from qualitative research which involved a day-long workshop in five countries comprising three two-hour discussion sessions, with one session focused on human enhancement. The overarching aim of this qualitative research was to engage a range of citizens to consider issues raised by the three technology areas. The specific objectives for the human enhancement sessions were to briefly explore citizen views and concerns about the following types of enhancement: physical, cognitive, emotional and longevity enhancement.

Workshops were held in five countries: France, Germany, Poland, Greece, and Spain. Each workshop consisted of 50-53 participants (total n= 253) including a minimum of 10 participants from pre-specified vulnerable groups. This report outlines initial participant associations with the technologies and perceived benefits and concerns for their use and provides some very early insights into what mitigation measures citizens may want to see in place to address their concerns.

This qualitative research was conducted by a social research agency rather than academics. There are several important limitations to this research, which include referencing, methodological, sampling and analytical limitations. The results in this report should be read with reference to and in the context of these limitations. The results serve as indicative findings about public attitudes to this technology area and should be treated as a starting point for further academic research and analysis to build from. They should not be read in isolation and should be read with reference to the other reports that have been produced as part of the SIENNA project.

One of the main findings from the research was that participants did not understand that human enhancement technologies refer specifically to improving the capabilities of ‘healthy’ human beings beyond what is deemed ‘normal’. Instead, they often combined references to health treatments and enhancement, seemingly not distinguishing between them. As such, across the four enhancement areas discussed, participants felt that the main benefits of new technologies revolved around healthcare and focused on clinical applications in their discussions. HET areas also raised various concerns, which can be grouped in two categories: individual concerns and societal concerns.


SIENNA D3.6.pdf

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SIENNA – Stakeholder-informed ethics for new technologies with high socio-economic and human rights impact 741716
European Commission