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The Method – New and old Technology Assessment methods
How far would you go to become stronger, fitter or more competitive?
Ritalin for your child to improve its educational chances? A robotic
arm to boost strength? With the Rathenau Instituut’s new human
enhancement app you can put your ethics to the test.
spend time in training or use enhancements – mild
and radical - to accomplish their mission.
These enhancements come at a price, though,
mirroring real-life dilemmas. Ritalin is designed
to improve concentration but are the side effects
too risky? Deep brain stimulators are designed to
improve moods, but what else do they do? What
are the downsides of a superstrength robotic arm?
Players are encouraged to think about the ethical
dilemmas as they are interacting with the other
Human enhancement technologies were originally
developed as medical technologies for people with a
disorder, but are increasingly being used by healthy
people to improve performance or appearance.
Well-known examples are Viagra and liposuction. In
liberal Western countries, individuals can decide for
themselves whether to use such enhancements or not.
But what is the impact of these individual decisions
for society as a whole? How does it change our ideas
about what a normal human being is? And who has
access to these technologies? What if a government
The Rathenau Instituut, the technology and science
uses enhancement technologies for collective goals,
system assessment institute for the Dutch parliament,
such as a safety and justice? Ira van Keulen: “Most of
is launching their first iPhone app this winter: a
the public debate has been about doping in sports. We
game on human enhancement. “We want to reach
wish to invite people to think about the broader trend
new audiences, that we do not reach through more
of healthy people using technologies to become smarter,
traditional media”, explains senior researcher Ira
fitter or more beautiful. After all, new technologies will
van Keulen. The game is designed to encourage
keep being developed – and people’s desire to improve
players to think about the ethical dilemmas of human
themselves will keep raising these issues.”
enhancement. It’s a topic that reaches way beyond
cosmetic surgery and doping for athletes: “Sooner or
The game will be available in January, through the
later, everyone will have to make choices about whether iTunes AppStore. You can stay up to date via
to tinker with their appearance or performance. If only
The social game, which will be free of charge, offers
players three missions to choose from. In the first,
your child takes part in a competition to enter a top
five university. In the second, players are scientists
competing for research funding for a cancer vaccine.
The third option is to be an elderly person who has
to prove they are mentally and physically capable of
living independently. A team of players can either
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