The boundaries between inanimate technology and the realm of the living become increasingly blurred. Deeper and deeper technological interventions into living organisms are possible, covering the entire spectrum of life from bacteria to humans. Simultaneously, digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI) enable increasingly autonomous technologies. Inanimate technologies such as robots begin to show characteristics of life. Contested issues pop up, such as the dignity of life, the enhancement of animals for human purposes, the creation of designer babies, and the granting of robot rights.
The book addresses the understanding of the ongoing dissolution of the life/technology borders, the provision of ethical guidance for navigating research and innovation responsibly, and the philosophical reflection on the meaning of the current shifts. It offers three specific perspectives for understanding the challenges and providing orientation. First, the dissolution of the boundaries between technology and life is analyzed and reflected from both sides. Second, the search for orientation is not restricted to ethics but also involves philosophy of technology and of nature, as well as anthropology. Finally, instead of restricting the analysis to specific areas of life, e.g., bacteria or animals, the book presents a comprehensive look at the entire spectrum of living organisms—bacteria and viruses, plants, animals and humans—and robots as possible early forms of emerging technical life.
Table of Contents
1 What You Will Find in this Book
2 Life and Technology as Conceptual Patterns
3 Ethics Guiding Our Pathways to the Future
4 On the Track to Creating Life: Synthetic Biology
5 Animal Enhancement for Human Purposes
6 Shaping the Code of Human Life: Genome Editing
7 Human Enhancement
8 Robots and Artificial Intelligence: Living Technology?
9 On the Future of Life
Armin Grunwald is a full professor of philosophy and ethics of technology at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany. He is director of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at KIT and director of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag. His professional backgrounds include technology assessment, ethics of philosophy, theory of sustainable development, and the epistemology of inter- and transdisciplinary research. He is a member of several advisory commissions and committees in various fields of technological advance. Currently, Prof. Grunwald is developing a theory of technology assessment in conjunction with applications in the fields of energy system transformation, the ongoing digitalization, and new and emerging technologies such as synthetic biology and human enhancement. He is author and editor of multiple professional and research publications, including Technology Assessment in Practice and Theory (Routledge, 2019) and The Hermeneutic Side of Responsible Research and Innovation (Wiley, 2016).