Think Tanks

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2020health calls on Government to formally evaluate the pros and cons of emerging medical technologies

By Jonathan Isaby

MANNING JULIA This afternoon, the think tank 2020health has issued a new report, Health, humanity and justice: Emerging technologies and health policy in the 21st Century, which urges the Government to establish a formal process to evaluate the benefits and risks of emerging medical technologies.

The think-tank identifies a number of high risk technologies being in particular need of assessment, which will need to command public confidence if they are to be developed:

  • The use of IT implants including brain computer interface and external IT devices to enhance human capacities
  • The use of neuro-therapeutics (smart brain drugs) for lifestyle purposes: medications originally designed for a particular therapeutic purpose are increasingly being used off-license and off-prescription in healthy people 
  • The use of synthetic biology to create artificial life
  • Genetic prediction

Julia Manning (pictured), the author of the report and director of 2020health, observed:

“We cannot afford to be Luddites automatically rejecting technologies as they may offer the prospect of preventing or curing debilitating illnesses. But this should not lead us without careful analysis to accept the case for ‘enhancement’ or to forget to consider carefully the potential dual uses of these advances.

“We believe that there is a crucial distinction between new technology that is used to cure or prevent disease and new technology that is used to enhance individual human capacities.”

The full report can be read on the 2020health website.


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