Published on Mar 3, 2015
“Using Neurotechnologies to Enhance Virtues: A Posthuman Model for Cultivating Character”
James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut where he teaches health policy and serves as Director of Institutional Research and Planning. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he also taught bioethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Dr. Hughes is author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future , and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced a syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio.
Dr. Hughes is a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of Humanity+, the Neuroethics Society, the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and the Working Group on Ethics and Technology at Yale University. He serves on the State of Connecticut Regenerative Medicine Research Advisory Committee (formerly known as the Stem Cell Research Advisory Board).
Dr. Hughes speaks on medical ethics, health care policy and future studies worldwide.
Dr. Hughes is available for media interviews.
Office tel: 860-297-2376, 860-428-1837
E-mail: director at ieet.org
J. Hughes RSS feed
Subscribe to the Changesurfer Radio podcast
Join the IEET newsletter mailing list
Join the IEET daily news feed
Large headshot - Rustic headshot
Mar 15, 2015
IEET Audience Divided on Left-Right Political Cognitive Biases
Inspired by the debate over the effects of partisan tribalism on cognition we asked “Are liberals and people on the Left as cognitively biased as conservatives and people on the Right?” A plurality (42%) of the 150 respondents answered that “Leftists and liberals have some biases, but less than conservatives and the Right.”
Mar 10, 2015
Integrating Video Game Mechanics and Meditation Principles to Improve Brain HealthWisdom 2.0
Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world.
Through our series of conferences, meet-ups, and workshops, Wisdom 2.0 strives to bring this conversation to the world in an accessible, innovative, and inclusive way.
Mar 1, 2015
Enhancing Virtues: Fairness (Pt 3)by J. Hughes
Are there ways to directly strengthen fairness and moral cognition in the prefrontal cortex, and weaken the cognitive biases bubbling up from the amygdala? Research on the genetic correlates of moral cognition, and the effects of psychoactive drugs, and of electrical and magnetic manipulation of the brain, suggest there are ways to enhance fairness and impartiality.
Feb 28, 2015
Enhancing Virtues: Fairness (Pt 2)by J. Hughes
Fairness is a liberal virtue rooted in instinctive aversion to cheating and inequality, but then filtered through prefrontal cognition. Since the spread of Enlightenment values fairness has grown in importance as a virtue, especially for liberals with stronger prefrontal cortices and weaker amygdalas. Fairness finds less support among conservatives for whom respect for authority, ingroup loyalty and disgust/sanctity are more neurologically salient. What impact do social policy and individual practices have on the influence of fairness and cognitive biases?
Feb 14, 2015
Enhancing Virtues: Fairness (pt 1)by J. Hughes
Our moral codes are rooted in preconscious feelings of disgust at people who hurt others, cheat, are disloyal, disobey authority, and violate social taboos. Some of these moral feelings support modern Enlightenment ideas of morality while others are in contradiction with modern values of individual rights and critical thought. By illuminating the ways that our value systems are shaped by prerational impulses we can make more conscious choices about how to build a fair society and practice the civic virtues of fairness and engaged citizenship. But we also can begin to experiment with ways to enhance our moral reasoning with drugs and devices to become even better citizens than previously possible.
Feb 13, 2015
1950s “Housewife” Tries LSDHenryBloggit
In this video, Sidney Cohen (author of The Beyond Within: The L.S.D. Story, administers LSD under clinical conditions to an unnamed "normal person" (her description), some time in the 1950s. Her description of her experience is really wonderful—you can tell she's going through something profound and amazing. As Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote in 2011,
The experience she describes includes familiar themes such as gorgeous colors, geometric patterns, microscopic particles suddenly visible, and a sense of transcendence, oneness, and ineffability:
"I can see everything in color. You have to see the air. You can't believe it….I've never seen such infinite beauty in my life….Everything is so beautiful and lovely and alive….This is reality…I wish I could talk in Technicolor….I can't tell you about it. If you can't see it, then you'll just never know it. I feel sorry for you."
Today all this may sound hackneyed, but what's striking about this woman's account is that her expectations were not shaped by the huge surge of publicity that LSD attracted in the next two decades. Although she had not heard what an LSD trip was supposed to be like, her experience included several of the features that later came to be seen as typical—a reminder that, as important as "set and setting" are, "drug" matters too.
Despite the similarity between this woman's description of her experience and testimonials from acid aficionados of the '60s and '70s, her presentation is so calm and nonthreatening that it is hard to imagine how anyone could perceive this drug as an intolerable danger to society.
Jan 28, 2015
Time to Start Looking At ‘Cyborg’ As a Gender Identityby B. J. Murphy
I am a Cyborg. No, I don’t have any technological enhancements just yet, though I plan on doing so very soon with help from my friends within the DIY grinder community. Even then, my “choosing” to identify myself as a cyborg is more than a mere desire for cyborg enhancements, but is an identity that I feel deeply within myself – a longing to express myself in ways that my current biological body cannot.
Jan 9, 2015
People Fly A Brain-Controlled HelicopterBuzzFeedBlue
A brain–computer interface (BCI), sometimes called a mind-machine interface (MMI), direct neural interface (DNI), synthetic telepathy interface (STI) or brain–machine interface (BMI), is a direct communication pathway between the brain and an external device. BCIs are often directed at assisting, augmenting, or repairing human cognitive or sensory-motor functions.
Research on BCIs began in the 1970s at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) under a grant from the National Science Foundation, followed by a contract from DARPA. The papers published after this research also mark the first appearance of the expression brain–computer interface in scientific literature.
The field of BCI research and development has since focused primarily on neuroprosthetics applications that aim at restoring damaged hearing, sight and movement. Thanks to the remarkable cortical plasticity of the brain, signals from implanted prostheses can, after adaptation, be handled by the brain like natural sensor or effector channels. Following years of animal experimentation, the first neuroprosthetic devices implanted in humans appeared in the mid-1990s.
The history of brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) starts with Hans Berger’s discovery of the electrical activity of the human brain and the development of electroencephalography (EEG). In 1924 Berger was the first to record human brain activity by means of EEG. Berger was able to identify oscillatory activity in the brain by analyzing EEG traces. One wave he identified was the alpha wave (8–13 Hz), also known as Berger’s wave.
Berger’s first recording device was very rudimentary. He inserted silver wires under the scalps of his patients. These were later replaced by silver foils attached to the patients’ head by rubber bandages. Berger connected these sensors to a Lippmann capillary electrometer, with disappointing results. More sophisticated measuring devices, such as the Siemens double-coil recording galvanometer, which displayed electric voltages as small as one ten thousandth of a volt, led to success.
Berger analyzed the interrelation of alternations in his EEG wave diagrams with brain diseases. EEGs permitted completely new possibilities for the research of human brain activities.
Dec 30, 2014
#7: No Form, Feelings, Perceptions, Mental Formations, Consciousness: A Buddhist Perspective on AIby Andrew Cvercko
It seems as though every day we grow closer to creating fully conscious and emergent artificial intelligences. As I’ve written about before, this poses a problem for many religions, especially those that ascribe a special place for humanity and for human consciousness in the cosmos. Buddhism stands out as an exception. Buddhism may be the one system of religious thought that not only accepts but will actively embrace any AIs that we produce as a species.