Thursday, March 10, 2011

Law and Science at The Edge of Human

Brookings has a very nice article on the legal (but more inherently, cultural) challenges scientific progress is likely to bring in the coming years, as technologies such as Computational Intelligence and Genetic Engineering further blur the line between human and non-human.

Too often we focus entirely on the physical hazards poised by emerging technologies – particularly, what kind of beings it might spawn, and what their disposition towards mankind it would be. However, the social impact of their very existence may be just as disrupting as anything these theoretical new lifeforms might be able to do.

In the typical Hollywood scenario, artificial beings – say, genetically enhanced mice – escape laboratory confinement and turn against humanity. However, in the real world, were a lab rat to display anything remotely resembling human-level cognition, it wouldn't even need try to escape: animal rights activists would be at the gates faster than you can spell "Sea Shepherd".

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