Reilly Center Offers Top Ten Science And Technology Ethical Dilemmas List

The John J. Reilly Center at the University of Notre Dame focuses on the intersection of science, technology and values.  Each December it releases a list of 10 emerging ethical dilemmas in science and technology (H/T Phys.org and STEMDaily).  This year marks the fourth such list.  The center has website visitors vote on each topic, which determines the order the Center will feature them on its website.

The topics in the 2016 list are:

  • CRISPR/Cas9—technology for gene editing that has the potential to be faster and more precise than previous technologies, and inherited by the descendants of those affected.
  • Rapid whole genome diagnosis—used on some newborns so far, the storage and use of this information over the life of the person has yet to be resolved.
  • Talking Barbie—a Barbie that can record conversations with your child.
  • Digital labor rights—how new digitally enabled jobs reshape the relationships between labor and management.
  • Head transplants—a doctor seeks to do this in 2017, raising questions about medical ethics and identity.
  • Disappearing drones—drones that can disappear/disintegrate with no trace.
  • Artificial wombs—how the ability to bring a human baby to term without any time in a mother’s womb could change the way we handle pregnancy.
  • Bone conduction for marketing—messages that you ‘hear’ whenever you touch a surface that is transmitting them.
  • Lethal cyber weapons—the use of cyber attacks to kill, directly or indirectly.
  • Exoskeletons for the elderly—technologies that can assist the elderly have been developed to allow them to perform heavy labor past retirement age.

Previous lists strike me as a bit more futuristic – in the sense that the underlying science or technology was not as mature – compared to this year.  Check back with the Center each month to get their perspective on each of this year’s issues.  Details on the issues covered in the previous lists are already available.

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