with Jens Wiltfang
“Designer Brains in the Pursuit of Human Perfection.”
Scientific breakthroughs and technological advances are shaping every aspect of our lives. We want to choose the gender and capacities of our offspring, to enhance our muscles and brains, to control our moods and to even predict the future, but we are only what our brain permits.
Brain fitness is a pill or a chip away. Brain enhancement is already a reality, but should we quickly reach for this technology or should we stop and listen to scientists, doctors, theologians, philosophers and politicians. Memory enhancing genes have already been identified and intense research is being carried out on memory-enhancing drugs, always targeted as a therapeutic strategy. Should this seemingly endless capacity to innovate, adapt and be better be of concern?
In this brave new world where the chip, pill or gene that can so easily shape the brain are available, how can we guarantee that we are not promoting inequality, becoming less autonomous, increasing brain related pathologies, in fact building ‘lazy brains’? What if the enhancements can be passed down to the next generation, are we promoting sub-species? How are we molding human evolution?
With 30 years of experience in clinical and research settings dealing with patients and innovative approaches to solve current problems, Jens Wiltfang MD is clinical director of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Göttingen and coordinator of clinical research at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) at the Göttingen site.
Through his research and participation in numerous national and international (EU: FP5, FP6, FP7) funded research projects, particularly on biomarker discovery for early and differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, he holds several patents and is actively involved in exploiting research findings to improve clinical research practices. Through his consultations he is an acute observer of human behavior and ideally positioned to evaluate how innovation and technology are impacting our society.