domingo, 22 de mayo de 2016

BioEdge: Looking ahead to radical solutions for ALS and cancer

BioEdge: Looking ahead to radical solutions for ALS and cancer

Looking ahead to radical solutions for ALS and cancer
Improbable as it may seem, an Italian neurosurgeon plans to transplant a head within the near future. Sergio Canavero has received worldwide publicity with his solution for degenerative diseases like ALS or for patients whose bodies are riddled with cancer. Last year a 30-year-old Russian IT worker with a crippling muscle-wasting disease volunteered for the operation when it become feasible.

Assuming, however, that the operation is successful, who will the person be? The person who once owned the head, or the person who once owned the body? Neither, according to an article in the journal Neuroethics.

We maintain that embodiment is central to personal identity and a radical alteration of the body will also radically alter the person, making her a different person. Consequently, a human head transplant will result in an individual partly continuous with the head/brain donor (in terms of connected memories and mental events), and partly continuous with the body donor (in terms of the inputs and regulatory patterns afforded by the structure and functions of the nervous system, and the self-image of this new embodiment). We conclude that the resultant person would be a new person different from both the individual whose head was transplanted and the one to whose body the “new” head is attached.
While the possibility of success in such an operation is extremely remote, the authors warn that it would be “ imprudent to be unprepared for those neuroscientific developments that can, and likely will occur in the near future”.
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Twelve years ago, political scientist Francis Fukuyama described transhumanism as “the world’s most dangerous idea”. In 2004, that sounded a bit daft -- almost no one had ever heard of the idea. For many people it still does, but now transhumanism is going mainstream.
Movies are being made about transhumanist themes; newspapers like the Washington Post are running feature articles on it; and a transhumanist is running for US President. It is indeed dangerous. As Fukuyama said:
The seeming reasonableness of the project, particularly when considered in small increments, is part of its danger. Society is unlikely to fall suddenly under the spell of the transhumanist worldview. But it is very possible that we will nibble at biotechnology's tempting offerings without realizing that they come at a frightful moral cost.
Just a reminder: please consider a donation to keep BioEdge afloat. We need to raise $15,000 this year. Next week will be our final appeal letter. 

Michael Cook



This week in BioEdge

by Michael Cook | May 22, 2016
Is the movement becoming mainstream?

by Michael Cook | May 22, 2016
Learning from experience of UK in brushing aside controversy

by Xavier Symons | May 22, 2016
A group of scientists in the US are continuing to conduct research on human-animal hybrid embryos, despite a moratorium on funding from the National Institutes…

by Xavier Symons | May 22, 2016
A US computational scientist has suggested the next US president should create a ‘technoethics commission’.

by Michael Cook | May 22, 2016
Head transplants may not work as planned

by Michael Cook | May 22, 2016
Could lead to genetically-engineered humans

by Xavier Symons | May 21, 2016
A US doctor has voiced grave concern about government inaction on increasing suicide rates in the country.

by Xavier Symons | May 21, 2016
Researchers have called for greater attention to be paid to "spiritual care" in the treatment of elderly patients.

by Xavier Symons | May 18, 2016
There has been growing interest among ethicists in the theme of vulnerability. I recently spoke about the topic with bioethicist Steve Matthews.
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