Michael D. Bess F'08

Michael D. Bess
Chancellor's Professor of History
History
Vanderbilt University

ACLS Fellowship Program 2008
Professor
History
Vanderbilt University
Icarus 2.0: A Historian’s Perspective on Human Biological Enhancement

This project is on the ethical and social implications of new technologies for human biological enhancement: the reconfiguring and boosting of our physical and mental capabilities. These technologies are developing ever more rapidly, along three major fronts: pharmaceuticals, prosthetics/informatics, and genetics. This study charts the history of these technologies since World War II, with particular emphasis on the controversies that have surrounded their development, to explore the assumptions about human identity prevalent among those who have been addressing this emergent phenomenon, both inside and outside of academia. It also offers a clearer, more synthetic conceptual framework than is currently available for addressing the social implications of enhancement technologies.