Medical technology now verges on incorporating computers with the computational power of the famous Watson IBM computer and Internet-like communications directly into our anatomy. As the size and complexity of computers spiral downward, the wholesale use of these devices (as well as RFID-type technology) will become as common as a present vaccine. These initiatives will extend lifetimes, keep us younger longer and enhance our intelligence. Related to this development is the eventual merging of synthetic DNA and artificial intelligence that will bring new diagnostics, medical treatment and smart nano-prosthetics well within the horizon of the next generation. A prosthetic genome hastens the day when enhanced life forms, such as human organs, can be made entirely from a fusion of living organisms and non-living materials.
Just as computers, cell phones, the Internet, Google, and Facebook continue to change our social reality and some believe our brain biology, the author contends that the proliferation of in-the-body technologies will dramatically change everything from how we view each other, to how we fashion policy and law to guard against activities that could jeopardize our well-being, such as market forces may look to squeeze out efficiencies at the expense of performance and reliability or against those who, for instance, would dare to unleash digital viruses into a world filled with biomedical devices receptive to Internet-style communications.
Overtime our artificially controlled metabolisms may begin to alter our natural biological evolution. At what point does the widespread application of cyborg-assisted-life change our attitudes about what the notion of “human” means. The author focuses on the moral implications of the new technology, its influence over our future culture, personal identity and autonomy, and why we need to begin a national conversation now so that we can prepare for what is inevitably ahead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Carvalko is adjunct Professor of Law, Science and Technology at Quinnipiac University School of Law as well as a patent attorney and engineer. He is a member of the Community Bioethics Forum, Yale School of Medicine and a member of the Yale Technology and Ethics working group. He is past member of the editorial board for SciTech, a publication of the ABA, Section on Science and Technology. In the late 1980s Carvalko held position of Chairman of the Behavioral Sciences Committee of the Section on Science and Technology. Formerly he was a research associate in the biomedical engineering field, designing and programming cellular automata computers for artificial intelligence applications in cytological pattern recognition, and afterward worked extensively developing computers and telecommunications. He is the author of several books, the most recent: The Techno-Human Shell-A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap (Sunbury Press, 12/31/12 release); and a novel We Were Beautiful Once--Chapters from a Cold War (Sunbury Press, 1/31/13 release). He holds a Bachelor Science Electrical Engineering, Juris Doctor Law, and Master Fine Arts writing.
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