Transhumanist Imagination

transhumanist imagination

Armin Grunwald


“Human Enhancement: The hermeneutical side of technology assessment and vision assessment”





Abstract: Human Enhancement is one of the main current manifestations of converging sciences aiming at interventions into living systems – interventions into human mind and body. Technology assessment (TA), applied ethics and ELSI-studies were applied early on to this field. The first question is what knowledge and which practices and subjects have been and can be taken into consideration by those studies regarding the situation that only little knowledge about products, markets, innovation paths and diffusion strategies of enhancement technologies is available. The second question is for the functions in the research and development process as well as in the accompanying societal debate those studies can and shall fulfil. Based on earlier conceptual work on vision assessment I will argue that a major role of technology assessment and vision assessment in very early stages of new and visionary developments is a hermeneutical one. The emerging novelties and challenges of human enhancement technologies had first to be made tangible by making their content as transparent as possible. This hermeneutical side of technology and vision assessment necessarily involves, on the one hand, uncovering deep-ranging cultural and philosophical issues. On the other, it must also look at the constellation where the stories of the visionary futures are coming from, and on the attitudes and interests of the related actor groups. Both, the analysis of the visionary futures as such and the analysis of the actor constellation are necessary parts of an hermeneutical effort to fully understand emerging debates. This effort is required to prepare society for coming debates.