NBIC-Convergence and Technoethics: Common Ethical Perspective

NBIC-Convergence and Technoethics: Common Ethical Perspective

Elena Grebenshchikova (Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of RAS, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3158-6.ch013
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Technoethics is a new, but rapidly developing field of ethical reflection of technoscience. It can claim to unite the various ethical projections of the science and technology development in a common approach. One of the starting points of understanding this role of technoethics may be NBIC-convergence. The ethical dimensions of the NBIC-projects is represented in these sub-areas of applied ethics as a nanoethics, bioethics, neuroethics and ICT ethics. In this article particular attention is paid to the biomedical field, which is a prime example of innovative high technology, as well as the interaction of different types of ethics.
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Nbic-Convergence And Technoethics: Common Ethical Perspective

The term “technoethics” was first proposed by Mario Bunge in 1977. He pays attention to unique moral responsibility of technologists and engineers for the outcomes of technological progress. As Bunge (1977) wrote: “the technologist must be held not only technically but also morally responsible for whatever he designs or executes: not only should his artifacts be optimally efficient but, far from being harmful, they should be beneficial, and not only in the short run but also in the long term.” In formalizing technoethics as a contemporary field of research, R. Luppicini acknowledges “Bunge brought to the forefront the core idea that technology should be moderated by moral and social controls and that the pursuit of such technology related issues requires special consideration and expertise, what eventually would become the field of technoethics” (Luppicini, 2008).

The relevance of Bunge`s approach to the context of modern technoscience is dictated by the rapid development of new technologies and the need for a comprehensive approach to the emerging ethical, social, legal consequences. Convergence of technology and science takes a prominent role in these processes. The starting point of the convergence process is associated with NBIC-initiative. M. Roco and W. Bainbridge organized in 2002 seminar “Converging Technologies: Improving Human Performance,” where a new stage in the science and technology development was designated as the New Renaissance (Roco & Bainbridge, 2002). This was the starting point for NBIC-projects in the European Union and other countries (Bensaude-Vincent, 2008; Nordmann, 2004). In addition, new approaches to the convergence process led to creation of the following acronyms: GNR (Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics), GRAIN (Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Nanotechnology), and BANG (Bits, Atoms, Neurons, and Genes).

In fact, the NBIC initiative is represented by two target areas: economic-technological and anthropological. The first focuses on synergic combinations of the above areas that in the foreseeable future should be realized in technological innovation, and ultimately change the development of human civilization as a whole. The second is aimed at the human per se. It involves the use of innovative technologies for improving human performance and human enhancement. Prospects for a radical transformation of humans became the object of intense debate in bioethics.

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