skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Policy implications of technologies for cognitive enhancement

Abstract

The Advanced Concepts Group at Sandia National Laboratory and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University convened a workshop in May 2006 to explore the potential policy implications of technologies that might enhance human cognitive abilities. The group's deliberations sought to identify core values and concerns raised by the prospect of cognitive enhancement. The workshop focused on the policy implications of various prospective cognitive enhancements and on the technologies/nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science--that enable them. The prospect of rapidly emerging technological capabilities to enhance human cognition makes urgent a daunting array of questions, tensions, ambitions, and concerns. The workshop elicited dilemmas and concerns in ten overlapping areas: science and democracy; equity and justice; freedom and control; intergenerational issues; ethics and competition; individual and community rights; speed and deliberations; ethical uncertainty; humanness; and sociocultural risk. We identified four different perspectives to encompass the diverse issues related to emergence of cognitive enhancement technologies: (1) Laissez-faire--emphasizes freedom of individuals to seek and employ enhancement technologies based on their own judgment; (2) Managed technological optimism--believes that while these technologies promise great benefits, such benefits cannot emerge without an active government role; (3) Managed technological skepticism--views that the qualitymore » of life arises more out of society's institutions than its technologies; and (4) Human Essentialism--starts with the notion of a human essence (whether God-given or evolutionary in origin) that should not be modified. While the perspectives differ significantly about both human nature and the role of government, each encompasses a belief in the value of transparency and reliable information that can allow public discussion and decisions about cognitive enhancement. The practical question is how to foster productive discussions in a society whose attention is notably fragmented and priorities notably diverse. The question of what to talk about remains central, as each of the four perspectives is concerned about different things. Perhaps the key issue for initial clarification as a condition for productive democratic discussion has to do with the intended goals of cognitive enhancement, and the mechanisms for allowing productive deliberation about these goals.« less

Authors:
 [1];
  1. (Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Laboratories
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
901973
Report Number(s):
SAND2006-7909
TRN: US200717%%32
DOE Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; BIOTECHNOLOGY; ETHICAL ASPECTS; STANDARD OF LIVING; AUGMENTATION; BRAIN; PUBLIC POLICY; Human information processing.; Human behavior.; Cognitive science.; Arts and Humanities-Society and Culture; Automation-Human factors.

Citation Formats

Sarewitz, Daniel R., and Karas, Thomas H.. Policy implications of technologies for cognitive enhancement. United States: N. p., 2007. Web. doi:10.2172/901973.
Sarewitz, Daniel R., & Karas, Thomas H.. Policy implications of technologies for cognitive enhancement. United States. doi:10.2172/901973.
Sarewitz, Daniel R., and Karas, Thomas H.. Thu . "Policy implications of technologies for cognitive enhancement". United States. doi:10.2172/901973. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/901973.
@article{osti_901973,
title = {Policy implications of technologies for cognitive enhancement},
author = {Sarewitz, Daniel R. and Karas, Thomas H.},
abstractNote = {The Advanced Concepts Group at Sandia National Laboratory and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University convened a workshop in May 2006 to explore the potential policy implications of technologies that might enhance human cognitive abilities. The group's deliberations sought to identify core values and concerns raised by the prospect of cognitive enhancement. The workshop focused on the policy implications of various prospective cognitive enhancements and on the technologies/nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science--that enable them. The prospect of rapidly emerging technological capabilities to enhance human cognition makes urgent a daunting array of questions, tensions, ambitions, and concerns. The workshop elicited dilemmas and concerns in ten overlapping areas: science and democracy; equity and justice; freedom and control; intergenerational issues; ethics and competition; individual and community rights; speed and deliberations; ethical uncertainty; humanness; and sociocultural risk. We identified four different perspectives to encompass the diverse issues related to emergence of cognitive enhancement technologies: (1) Laissez-faire--emphasizes freedom of individuals to seek and employ enhancement technologies based on their own judgment; (2) Managed technological optimism--believes that while these technologies promise great benefits, such benefits cannot emerge without an active government role; (3) Managed technological skepticism--views that the quality of life arises more out of society's institutions than its technologies; and (4) Human Essentialism--starts with the notion of a human essence (whether God-given or evolutionary in origin) that should not be modified. While the perspectives differ significantly about both human nature and the role of government, each encompasses a belief in the value of transparency and reliable information that can allow public discussion and decisions about cognitive enhancement. The practical question is how to foster productive discussions in a society whose attention is notably fragmented and priorities notably diverse. The question of what to talk about remains central, as each of the four perspectives is concerned about different things. Perhaps the key issue for initial clarification as a condition for productive democratic discussion has to do with the intended goals of cognitive enhancement, and the mechanisms for allowing productive deliberation about these goals.},
doi = {10.2172/901973},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2007},
month = {Thu Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2007}
}

Technical Report:

Save / Share: