Is the human body a suitable place for a microchip? Such discussion is no longer hypothetical — in fact in reality it has not been so for some years. Restorative devices such as pacemakers and cochlear implants have become well established, yet these sophisticated devices form notably intimate links between technology and the body. More recent developments in engineering technologies have meant that the integration of silicon with biology is now reaching new levels — with devices which interact directly with the brain. As medical technologies continue to advance, their potential benefits for human enhancement will become increasingly attractive, and so we need to seriously consider where this may take us. In this paper, an attempt is made to demonstrate that, in the medical context, the foundations of more advanced implantable enhancement technologies are already notably progressed, and that they are becoming more science fact than is widely considered. A number of wider moral, ethical and legal issues stem from enhancement applications and it is difficult to foresee the social consequences, the fundamental changes on our very conception of self and the impact on our identity of adoption long term. As a result, it is necessary to acknowledge the possibilities and is timely to have debate to address the wider implications these possibilities may bring.
KeywordsDeep Brain Stimulation Multiple System Atrophy Cochlear Implant Breast Implant Human Enhancement
- 1.McGee, E.M. and Maguire, G.Q. (2007) ‘Becoming borg to become immortal: regulating brain implant technologies’, Camb Q Healthc Ethics, Summer; 16(3), pp. 291–302.Google Scholar
- 7.Delgado, J.M. (1977) ‘Instrumentation, working hypotheses, and clinical aspects of neurostimulation’, Applied Neurophysiology 40(2-4), pp. 88–110.Google Scholar
- 10.Gasson, M.N., Wang, S.Y., Aziz, T.Z., Stein, J.F., and Warwick, K. (2005) ‘Towards a Demand Driven Deep-Brain Stimulator for the Treatment of Movement Disorders’, MASP2005, 3rd IEE International Seminar on Medical Applications of Signal Processing, London, UK, pp. 83-86, 3–4 November, 2005.Google Scholar
- 11.Fischer-Hübner, S., and Hedbom, H. (eds) (2007) ‘A Holistic Privacy Framework for RFID Applications’, FIDIS. Available at: http://www.fidis.net/Google Scholar
- 16.Cosgrove, G. R. (2004) ‘Neuroscience, Brain, and Behavior V: Deep Brain Stimulation’, Transcript — session 6, June 25, The President’s Council on BioEthics. http://www.bioethics.gov/transcripts/june04/session6.htmlGoogle Scholar
- 17.Rodotà, S., and Capurro, R. (eds) (2005) ‘Ethical Aspects of ICT Implants in the Human Body’, Opinion of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission, pp. 18-23D.Google Scholar