March 29, 2006

The EU's ENHANCE Project

ENHANCE is a specific targeted research project put together by the EU that examines the ethics of human enhancement within cognitive enhancement, life extension, mood enhancement, and physical performance. The goal of the project is to reach a deeper understanding of the ethical and philosophical issues of the use of these technologies beyond the purpose of therapy.

Transhumanist philosopher and neuroscientist Anders Sandberg is participating in the cognitive enhancement project. And Nick Bostrom's Future of Humanity Institute has the 'ethics in cognitive enhancement' special assignment.

This project is being funded by the European commission's Sixth Framework programme, "Deepening Understanding in Ethical Issues." The study is in anticipation of biotechnologies that will have the potential of being applied to "make people think better, feel happier or even to improve their physical skills in sports or to extend the life-span." From the website:
The ENHANCE project investigates the latest development within research on biology, biogerontology and neuroscience in order to reach a deeper understanding of the ethical and philosophical consequences when moving from ‘therapy’ perspective towards the one of ‘enhancement’.
The main objectives are to document current and imminent scientific advances that may enhance human capacities in cognition, mood, physical performance (in sport) and aging, to evaluate these advances from a philosophical, ethical and social perspective, to facilitate policy-making to the emerging dual-use technologies, and to promote public understanding of dual-use technologies and the ethical debate.

I'm amazed that the EU is this far ahead in the discussion. Europeans have shown considerable distaste up to this point in time with anything having to do with human genetics and issues of enhancement. Here in North America, the only governmental group I see this in tune with humanity's future is the National Science Foundation. Specifically, I'm thinking about their NBIC report from a few years back, the effects of which are still being felt. As for Canada, these issues aren't even close to the policy issues map.

Best of luck to Anders, Nick, and all those involved in the ENHANCE project.

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