The Humanities Institute

Program Archive

Human Evolution 2.0: Biotechnology and the Future of Human Nature

At the start of the 21st century, we find ourselves on the threshold of a new age in which rapidly converging biosciences and technologies (genomics, genetic engineering, cloning, stem cell research, artificial reproduction, neurotechnologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, information technology, and nanotechnology) have the potential to not only dramatically increase our understanding of human life, but also radically transform human nature itself.

At stake in this biotech revolution is not simply the greater control we might gain over our biological limitations (by treating diseases, alleviating pain, slowing the aging process, etc.), but, beyond these therapeutic benefits, what is at stake is the power to determine the future of our species as humans. The potential development of “designer babies,” synthetic genes, genetic interventions, augmented cognitive powers, cyborgs, and of all forms of human enhancement technologies raise both hopes and fears. Will these developments make us better humans? Will they inalterably change what it means to be human? Or will they make the very notion of human nature obsolete? To help us consider the promises and risks of emerging biotechnologies, we are inviting scientists, social scientists, legal scholars, bioethicists, and neuroethicists to discuss with us the moral, social, legal, economic and political implications of the new biosciences.

Speakers and Events

April 1, 2007
Lori Andrews
Distinguished Professor of Law; Director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology; Associate Vice President, Chicago-Kent College of Law; Illinois Institute of Technology

A Novel Approach to Biotech Policies: How Literature and Art Can Contribute to Law
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

April 8, 2007
Linda McCabe
Adjunct Associate Professor of Human Genetics and Pediatrics, UCLA

Designer Babies: Redefining Humans?
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

February 7, 2008
"The Monastery"

Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

February 11, 2008
Allen Buchanan
James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy Studies, Duke University

Using Biomedical Technologies to Enhance Human Beings
Balch Auditorium

February 19, 2008
Rachel Mayeri
Humanities and Social Sciences — Media Studies, Harvey Mudd College

Gene Art
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

February 19, 2008
T. Kim Trang-Tran
Department of Art, Scripps College

Gene Art
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

February 21, 2008
"Strange Culture"

Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

February 26, 2008
Dorothy Roberts
Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law

Race, Gender, and Genetic Technologies: A New Reproductive Dystopia?
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

February 28, 2008
"Our Daily Bread"

Balch Auditorium

March 4, 2008
Michael Spezio
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Scripps College

Minding the Transhuman Future
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

March 6, 2008
Charis Thompson
Associate Professor in the Departments of Gender and Women's Studies and Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

Genomics as Autobiography?
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

March 11, 2008
William Hurlbut, MD
Stanford University Medical Center; Neuroscience Institute; Member, The President's Council on Bioethics

Human Dignity in the Age of Biotechnology
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

March 25, 2008
Gregory Stock
CEO and Co-Founder, Signum Biosciences

Enhancing the Human: Genomics, Science Fiction and Ethics Collide
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

March 27, 2008
"Terror's Advocate"

Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

April 3, 2008
"Taxi to the Dark Side"

Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

April 8, 2008
Edward McCabe
Co-Director, UCLA Center for Society and Genetics; Professor of Pediatrics and Human Genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles; Professor of Bioengineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied

Designer Babies: Redefining Humans?
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

April 10, 2008
"Nanking"

Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center

April 17, 2008
"No End in Sight"

Humanities Auditorium

April 18, 2008
Bill McKibben
Author, Educator, Environmental Activist

Staying Human in An Engineered Age
Balch Auditorium

April 22, 2008
Laurie Zoloth
Director, Bioethics, Center for Genetic Medicine; Professor, Medical Ethics and Humanities, Program of Medical Ethics and Humanities; Professor of Religion, Northwestern University

Work in Progress: Biotechnology, Religion, and the Nature of Humans
Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center