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I Robot?

Ethical questions arise when people consider the lengths to which Kevin Warwick’s work can be taken. Most people would see the implantation of electronic circuits as of potential benefit if they could enable a disabled person to walk again. Profoundly deaf individuals such as the MP Jack Ashley can now hear a range of sounds even conversation thanks to electronic cochlear implants.

However, when does a person become a cyborg? Kevin proudly announced the fact that one neural implant in his arm that he termed an ‘enhancement’ made him a cyborg. And when does a cyborg become a robot? Popular fiction such as I Robot and Bladerunner depicts potential scenarios that show robots transcending their designer’s plans and consequent problems for humans. How would normal people feel about ‘enhanced’ individuals? Kevin Warwick’s colleague Daniela Cerqui, works with him in order to make him aware of the main social, ethical and philosophical issues related to his work. Her main fields of interest include future of humankind in the era of human and computer hybrids (cyborgs) and issues of computer based therapy versus enhancement.

Thought Experiment

Make a prediction about life in 2020 when a wide range of neural implants are available to most rich people. Write out a scenario that illustrates what impacts there would be for an individual and show it to two or three class mates. Record their observations about this future scenario and analyse them for common themes. Evaluate these themes against the evidence available to you.

What is ethics?

The Borg, a science fiction imagination of a cyborg.

Text equivalent:

Limits of Science

When a scientist creates something entirely new, can they be sure it will behave as predicted?