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Home > Press > Human Enhancement & Nanotechnology Conference to Convene at Western Michigan University

March 28-29 ethics meeting to cover issues in sports, military, policy, religion, and more

Human Enhancement & Nanotechnology Conference to Convene at Western Michigan University

KALAMAZOO, MI | Posted on March 1st, 2009

The Nanoethics Group today announced its upcoming conference on the ethical and social impacts of human enhancement technologies, especially related to nanotechnology. Held on March 28-29 at Western Michigan University (WMU), the event is free and open to the public.

For instance, bionic limbs (e.g., for greater strength or vision) and neural chips implanted into one's head (e.g., for on-demand access to the Internet and software applications) may give significant advantages to the individual in many areas, from sports to jobs to academia. But these technologies may hold health risks—similar to steroid or Ritalin use for enhancement purposes, as distinct from therapy—and raise ethical concerns related to fairness, access, and general societal disruption.

"Who wouldn't want to be stronger, smarter, and healthier—which is what we strive for now through exercise, academics, diet, and medicine?" asked Dr. Fritz Allhoff, assistant professor at WMU's philosophy department and co-founder of The Nanoethics Group. "But using new, powerful technologies to achieve the same result seems to push our bodies and minds beyond their natural limits, opening the possibility of unintended or unforeseen results and harms."

The conference will offer presentations by leading researchers and rising stars in the field, from such organizations as: Albany School of Medicine, Arizona State Univ., Carnegie Mellon, General Dynamics, IBM, Indiana Univ., Michigan State Univ., Northeastern Univ. Oxford Univ., Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Trinity College, Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Yale.

The conference is organized by faculty at California Polytechnic State Univ., Dartmouth College, Univ. of Delaware, and Western Michigan University. It is supported by funding from Western Michigan Univ. as well as the US National Science Foundation, under NSF awards # 0620694 and 0621021, as well as Delaware NSF-EPSCoR grant # EPS-0447610.

For more information, registration, directions, and the full line-up of speakers, please visit our new website at:


About The Nanoethics Group
The Nanoethics Group ( is organized under the umbrella of the Ethics + Emerging Technologies Group (, based at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo—a non-partisan research and educational organization focused on the risk, ethical, and social impacts of emerging technologies, such as robotics and nanotechnology.

For more information, please click here

Media Contact:
Dr. Fritz Allhoff
Philosophy Department
Western Michigan University

Copyright © The Nanoethics Group

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