Annual meeting

Human Dignity in Our Hands – Challenges from New Technologies

27. June 2018, 10:00 – 18:00 Uhr
28. June 2018, 09:00 – 16:00 Uhr

Ellington Hotel, Nürnberger Straße 50 – 55, 10789 Berlin

Introduction

The dignity of man into your hands is given,
Preserve it well!
It sinks with you, with you it will arise!

Taken from Friedrich Schiller’s poem "The Artists", this passage appears prima facie to contain a universal warning – the perception that mankind is responsible for the fate of its own dignity usually raises fears and concerns. However, Schiller’s words can also be read as a promise: They present human dignity as something that is refinable through art and science.

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, the German Ethics Council makes human dignity the subject of this year’s Annual Meeting. To which extent could the development of new technologies lead to violations or refinements of human dignity? Following analyses of the basic concept of human dignity and its normative implications, three specific technologies will be discussed that challenge our conceptions of man and human dignity in specific ways: Interventions in the brain through methods such as deep brain stimulation, interventions in the human genome by means of genome editing and developments in the field of artificial intelligence.

The following questions will be addressed during the Annual Meeting:

  • How has the concept of human dignity changed over time, and where is it relevant for current philosophical and legal discourse?
  • Is technological progress a potential threat to human dignity?
  • In what ways could human dignity be affected by interventions in the brain, genome editing or advances in artificial intelligence?
  • What is the significance of the concept of human dignity for the international debate in bioethics?
  • How can advisory bodies help to foster a responsible way of dealing with new technologies?

Schedule

27 June 2018

Welcome Address
Peter Dabrock · Chair of the German Ethics Council
Wolfgang Schäuble · President of the German Federal Parliament

The New Challenges of the Twenty-First Century
Yuval Noah Harari · The Hebrew University of Jerusalem · Jerusalem, Israel

International Perspectives on the Question of How Modern Technologies May Influence Human Dignity
Sheila Jasanoff · Harvard University · Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Presentation (pdf)
Henk ten Have · Duquesne University · Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Presentation (pdf)

Discussion with Alena Buyx and Sigrid Graumann · Members of the German Ethics Council
Session Chair: Claudia Wiesemann · Vice-Chair of the German Ethics Council

History and Current Relevance of the Concept of Human Dignity in Philosophy and Jurisprudence
Hille Haker · Loyola University Chicago · Chicago, Illinois, USA
Martin Nettesheim · University of Tübingen · Tübingen, Germany

Discussion with Carl Friedrich Gethmann and Wolfram Höfling · Members of the German Ethics Council
Session Chair: Dagmar Coester-Waltjen · Member of the German Ethics Council

Challenges of Human Dignity from Interventions in the Brain
Scientific State of the Art: Katrin Amunts · Member of the German Ethics Council
Presentation (pdf)
Ethical Evaluation: Bettina Schöne-Seifert · University of Münster, Münster, Germany
Presentation (pdf)
Commentary: Reinhard Merkel · Member of the German Ethics Council
Presentation (pdf)

Discussion
Session Chair: Andreas Kruse · Member of the German Ethics Council

28 June 2018

Challenges of Human Dignity from Interventions in the Genome
Scientific State of the Art: Kevin Esvelt · Massachusetts Institute of Technology · Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Presentation (pdf)
Commentary – Ethical Evaluation: Claudia Wiesemann · Vice-Chair of the German Ethics Council
Presentation (pdf)
Commentary – Patient Perspective: Stephan Kruip · Member of the German Ethics Council
Presentation (pdf)

Discussion
Session Chair: Wolfram Henn · Member of the German Ethics Council

Challenges of Human Dignity from Developments in Artificial Intelligence
Scientific State of the Art: Thomas G. Dietterich · Oregon State University · Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Presentation (pdf)
Ethical Evaluation: Paula Boddington · Cardiff University · Cardiff, Great Britain
Commentary: Steffen Augsberg · Member of the German Ethics Council

Discussion
Session Chair: Reinhard Merkel · Member of the German Ethics Council

Panel Discussion
David Archard · Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics · London, Great Britain
Andrea Büchler · President of the National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics · Bern, Switzerland
Christiane Druml · Chair of the Bioethics Commission at the Federal Chancellery · Vienna, Austria
Christiane Woopen · Chair of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies · Brussels, Belgium
Frédéric Worms · Member of the National Consultative Ethics Committee · Paris, France
Peter Dabrock · Chair of the German Ethics Council

Closing Words
Peter Dabrock · Chair of the German Ethics Council