Blog Posts (85)
February 23, 2017
I want to spend a little time—several consecutive posts—on the subject of heritable gene editing in humans, and on the recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on it. The topic bears more attention than a single blog post, written in a bit of a rush, based on only the initial release of the report, pending a deeper dive. That is... // Read More »
February 17, 2017
As Steve Phillips pointed out yesterday, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has published, in book form, its full report on “Human Gene Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance.” On Valentine’s day. (I suppose it’s not so ironic.) The entire report may be downloaded for free through this link. Also available at that page are links to a 4-page summary report and to one-pagers... // Read More »
January 6, 2017
[Star Wars fans spoiler alert: The following contains potential story information from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, the Star Wars Episode IV prequel] I confess that I am a Stars Wars geek in particular and a science fiction movie buff in general. Like many, I am old enough to have seen the first Star Wars movie at its 1977 release, before it was re-indexed... // Read More »
December 1, 2016
The journal Nature reports that scientists advising the U.K.’s Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HEFA) have judged that attempts to bring so-called “3-parent babies” to birth is “ready for limited clinical testing.” Presumably this means that the underlying technology, mitochondrial replacement, has been tested enough in the laboratory that it’s ready to try for human procreation. Also presumably, HEFA will promulgate rules or guidelines to... // Read More »
October 7, 2016
One version of the headline of a news item in Nature this week is, “UK bioethicists eye designer babies and CRISPR cows.” The UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics has just released a report, “Genome editing: an ethical review.” The full report and a short summary are available for download here. I must say that my understanding of recent bioethical reflection in the UK leads me... // Read More »
August 26, 2016
On August 3, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine posted online the slides and talks from its July 12 meeting to discuss public implications of the Human Gene-Editing Initiative. A total of four meetings plus a related workshop were held: an introductory discussion in December 2015, followed by three more substantial meetings plus the related workshop in February, April, and now July of... // Read More »
August 18, 2016
Wesley Smith, who, based on his writing, I consider a kindred soul in bioethics, has published an essay in First Things dated August 5, 2016, and entitled, “Brave New World Should be an Election Issue.” In it, he quickly runs down the revolutionary changes in the very nature of humanity that appear in the offing based on biotechnological developments since the publication of Aldous Huxley’s... // Read More »
July 28, 2016
1) In this week when Hillary Clinton has declared the Hyde Amendment in her gun-sight, and said that “religious objections to abortion must change,” while her party literally shouts the confident claim that abortion is an affirmative public good and a fundamental human right, a commentator flagged the Washington Post’s awarding, last October, of 3 “Pinnochios” to the claim that Planned Parenthood ‘provides’ mammograms—a canard... // Read More »
July 14, 2016
1) The new issue of Nature Biotechnology carries an erratic editorial complaining that “alarmist” responses to the recent announcement that a project to synthesize an entire human genome may be launched “missed the point.” The editors say that worries about “synthetic life and secret meetings” missed the point. The lesser goals of the project—more “nearfetched,” if you will—call for synthesizing long, sub-genomic stretches of DNA... // Read More »
June 9, 2016
A new Viewpoint article (available for free, without a prescription) from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) asserts that the United States is acting too slowly to advance mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRTs), the so-called “3-parent baby” approach that would seek to prevent mitochondrial DNA disease, which is transmitted maternally. The authors approve of the recent recommendations by the afore-named Institute of Medicine (IOM),... // Read More »
View More Blog Entries
November 8, 2012 6:12 pm
Performance-boosting drugs, powered prostheses and wearable computers are coming to an office near you — but experts warned in a new report Wednesday that too little thought has been given to the implications of a superhuman workplace.
July 17, 2012 4:01 pm
It is commonly accepting that doping in sports should be strictly prohibited. But Oxford bio-ethicist Julian Savulescu disagrees. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE on the eve of the London Olympics, he explains why bans are unrealistic and demands an open market for doping.
June 9, 2012 9:00 pm
At high schools across the United States, pressure over grades and competition for college admissions are encouraging students to abuse prescription stimulants, according to interviews with students, parents and doctors. Pills that have been a staple in some college and graduate school circles are going from rare to routine in many academically competitive high schools, where teenagers say they get them from friends, buy them from student dealers or fake symptoms to their parents and doctors to get prescriptions.
June 4, 2012 12:11 am
Over the next decade, new implantable technologies will fundamentally alter the social landscape. We are fast approaching a milestone in the eons-long relationship between human beings and their technology. Families once gathered around the radio like it was a warm fireplace. Then boom boxes leapt onto our shoulders. The Sony Walkman climbed into our pockets and sank its black foam tentacles into our ears. The newest tools are creeping still closer: They will soon come inside and make themselves at home under our skin—some already have.
May 30, 2012 1:58 pm
It was getting late, but he had finally finished all three of his assignments. If he’d been asked, Paul Kessler, ‘11, would’ve said that he’d been studying for only 45 minutes. However, the clock told a different story: two hours had passed. The Adderall worked. That night, Kessler had purchased Adderall, an ADHD drug, without a prescription — something that many college students across the nation are doing in order to focus.
April 12, 2012 11:42 pm
Just 26 and with a creditable — if unexceptional — pedigree in amateur wrestling, Newell is not so fearsome that professional fighters should cower. Yet the list of fighters who have canceled or rejected bouts with him is about two dozen long, and the reason is clear: it can be difficult to persuade able-bodied athletes to fight a man with one hand.
Sport needs to re-think both disability and enhancement.
March 10, 2012 9:35 am
Evan Selinger considers the ramifications of using apps to improve our habits. And also whether willpower as we normally think about it even exists. #bioethics #neuroethics #brain #philosophy
March 1, 2012 12:25 am
A British ethics group has launched a debate on the ethical dilemmas posed by new technologies that tap into the brain and could bring super-human strength, highly enhanced concentration or thought-controlled weaponry. #bioethics
February 24, 2012 12:26 am
In 1850, the average human lifespan was 43 years. Now it’s closer to 80. How high could it go? And what effect will the ever-increasing lifespan of humans have upon society? #bioethics #aging
February 21, 2012 8:28 pm
Opposition to the technologies that make life longer, healthier, and happier creates strange bedfellows argues Ronald Bailey. #bioethics #politics