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October 29, 2007


The Nanoethics Group to Discuss Human Enhancement Debate at ICNT 2007

Nov. 6 San Francisco talk examines predicted applications and growing controversy


SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – October 29, 2007 – The Nanoethics Group today announced that it has been invited to speak next week at the International Congress of Nanotechnology (ICNT) 2007 in San Francisco, one of the industry’s largest global gatherings.  Patrick Lin, Ph.D., director of The Nanoethics Group and visiting assistant professor at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), is scheduled to make his presentation “Superman vs. Frankenstein’s Monster: The Debate on Human Enhancement Technologies” on November 6 at 2:30 pm in the Environmental, Health & Safety track of the conference (track C).

Nanotechnology is expected to deliver applications to dramatically improve medical aid, some of which can also enhance “normal” human capabilities.  The US military is already working on such innovations as an exoskeleton that gives superhuman abilities to its bearer, such as being able to leap walls in a single bound or change from flexible fabric into armor.  Other performance-enhancing technologies may include making an individual smarter, more productive, more athletic, more attractive, and even live far beyond today’s average lifespan.  But such scenarios conjure up images of today’s steroid use in sports and therefore the need for safeguards, bring back to the forefront such questions as: Is there a difference between therapy and enhancement, and if so, should there be limits to how and when we may enhance ourselves?

Dr. Lin explained, “Some view human enhancement as the natural, desirable course of our evolution; others see it as a threat to the idea of ‘being human’ and a path toward creating a Frankenstein’s monster.  From our current National Science Foundation-funded project on the ethics of human enhancement and nanotechnology, my presentation will discuss some potential applications as well as examine issues on both sides of this very important and increasing debate.”

Held in San Francisco from November 5-8, the International Congress of Nanotechnology 2007 brings together leading minds in nanotechnology from all over the world, including keynote lectures from Nobel Laureates Sir Harry Kroto and Professor Roger Kornberg, California State Senator Dr. Leland Yee, California Assemblymember Loni Hancock.  For more information about ICNT 2007, please visit www.nanotechcongress.com.



About The Nanoethics Group

The Nanoethics Group is a non-partisan research organization formed to study nanotechnology’s impact on society and related ethical issues.  As professional ethicists, we help to identify and evaluate possible harms and conflicts as well as to bring balance and common sense to the debate.  Our mission is to educate and advise both organizations and the broader public on these issues as a foundation to guide policy and responsible research.  For more information, please visit www.nanoethics.org.

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