Synopses & Reviews
Health and science writer Herold (Stem Cell Wars) highlights the current state of “converging technologies” in medicine. She recommends opening a “wider dialogue” among the public about the practical ethical questions that come with inevitable rapidly approaching advances in implanted devices artificial organs “human enhancement” robotics and life extension rather than leaving the discussion in the hands of philosophical bioconservatives and radical transhumanists. Although full cyborgization has yet to arrive devices already in use bring similar complicated issues to the fore. For instance implantable cardioverter defibrillators can cause agonizing repeated shocks to a dying patient if not deactivated but both doctors and patients are reluctant to talk about deactivation likening it to an act of suicide. Herold warns that soon the public may be unable to address these questions “without the blinders of dependency” and she expresses concern over military research into particular enhancements such as methods to allow people to stay awake for 168 hours that could establish a “new normal.” But even as Herold worries about the blurring of lines between treatment and enhancement she is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of new technologies for improving quality of life. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."