CSNE screens movie on human enhancement
October 9, 2014 at 9:08 PM | Eleanor Cummins
A line trailed down the Ave as students and community members waited to enter the Varsity Theatre for a screening of “Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement” Thursday night.
The film, presented by the UW’s Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE), is about technologies with the potential to make us “better than human,” such as prosthetic feet tailored for mountain climbing.
“It’s very complicated to think about how we should enhance ourselves,” said Sara Goering, an associate professor of philosophy and a neuroethicist with CSNE. “Because we likely will.”
Goernig described the ethics surrounding the development of an exoskeleton for individuals with disabilities. The first device of its kind was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year.
While some hailed it as a great achievement in medicine with the potential to improve the quality of life for many, Goernig’s work is focused on the potential ethical issues this device and others create. When it comes to life-altering technology like this, the question of who will be able to access these devices is tantamount.
“Most people don’t have the basic wheelchair they need to get around,” she said.
These issues are central to the work of CSNE, an organization whose research is focused on so-called enhancement technologies, like cochlear implants or the reanimation of limbs.
In addition to their work in the lab in developing these technologies, members of the CSNE collaborate with representatives of the UW disability community in order to understand the applications and implications of their work.
For Joanne Woiak, a lecturer with the UW Disability Studies Program, the film’s greatest asset is the way it portrays the varying opinions of individuals in […]