Page 3.14

Today’s festivities featured a great talk on neuroethics. Actually, it was one of the first truly good talks I’ve heard about neuroethics. The speaker was Martha Farah, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. She skipped the dreadful sci-fi speculation that peppers so many talks on neuroethics and stuck to the facts, providing a broad but compelling overview of the current practice of neuro-enhancement. And rather than waffling about over the ethics, she concluded with strong recommendations—specifically, she recommended that there be more public funding for neuro-enhancement and neurotechnologies. If we keep the balance of power in the private sector, she said, the development of ethically questionable neurotechnologies and drugs may never be transparent. The relevant risks may never be disclosed, and we may not have the public debate we need before new products come to market.

It was a thought-provoking, somewhat counter-intuitive argument, but (I thought) a convincing one. Also, she won major points for her explanation of why she’d decided not to try to condense the entire history of neuroscience onto one slide: “This is something that even Michael Mukasey would regard as a form of torture.” Bravo, Dr. Farah, bravo.


  1. #1 Biopolitical
    November 6, 2007

    Your trackback is not working, at least for me. I have commented on your post in my blog.