This Week in Bioethics

by Matthew Eppinette, CBC Executive Director on November 17, 2017

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1. Matching Gift Challenge

On Monday we announced that some of our very generous donors are matching $30,000 in donations given between now and the end of 2017. The CBC (like most nonprofit organizations) relies heavily on end-of-year giving in order to start the new year on a strong footing.

We have already raised $4,023 (which of course means $8,046!)!

To those who have already given, we thank you. And to those who will be giving, we thank you in advance.

2. Good News from New South Wales Australia

After lengthy debate all day and night, the bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying has not passed the New South Wales Upper House. There is still work to be done in Australia: Victoria’s Parliament is also looking at legalizing assisted suicide. Perhaps this failure is due at least in part to the publication of clear opinion pieces like a letter to the editor of Central Western Daily. The author writes:

Irrespective of the euphemism – ‘voluntary assisted dying’ is currently in vogue – what is actually being sought is a dystopian two-tier society: those whose lives we want to preserve and those to whom we are effectively saying ‘you are better off dead’.

3. Artificial Intelligence, Neurotechnology, and Ethics

As the field of artificial intelligence continues to advance, we are seeing more and more calls for increased ethical reflection on the larger implications of AI on society, particularly in terms of economics and ways in which we relate to one another as well as ways we might interact with artificial intelligences such as robots, androids, or virtual personalities. Kate Crawford, principal researcher at Microsoft Research says, “The amount of money and industrial energy that has been put into accelerating AI code has meant that there hasn’t been as much energy put into thinking about social, economic, ethical frameworks for these systems. We think there’s a very urgent need for this to happen faster.” Similarly, the related field of neurotechnology is lacking in ethical examination:

Whether the issue is privacy (will devices be able to read your thoughts as you walk around, as cameras now capture your image?) or autonomy (will devices that read thoughts and “autofill” what you want to do next make people feel their free will has been hijacked?) or other issues, “the ethical thinking has been insufficient,” said Dr. Rafael Yuste of Columbia University are similarly accelerating with insufficient ethical thinking, in the words of neuroscientist Dr. Rafael Yuste of Columbia University.

4. Euthanasia in the Netherlands

This item is actually from last week (forgive me), but I’m highlighting it this week because it sparked a bit of conversation over on our Twitter page. So many people are seeking euthanasia in the Netherlands that the director of one euthanasia clinic is now “on a recruitment drive aimed at doubling the number of doctors and nurses on his books willing to go into people’s homes to administer lethal injections.” We maintain that euthanasia and assisted suicide are not compassion but are in fact forms of abandonment. They are a corruption of the practice medicine, and they place the weakest members of society at increased risk. For more, see the issues section on our website.

5. Contract Pregnancies Exposed Parts 1 and 2

Jennifer has written a lengthy piece on the realities of contract pregnancies. Last week we published the first part of that essay, which covered the history of surrogacy in the United States. This week we published the second and final part, which looks at the actual language used in surrogacy contracts. Please take the time to read both parts, which we believe makes a clear case that regulating surrogacy does not protect women and children. It only commodifies them more. The only protection is prohibition. #StopSurrogacyNow

This Week in Bioethics Archive

Image by Bill Smith via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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