Biotech and bioethics resources for schools and young people

Hat tip to New Life From Old for this link through to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s resources for schools and young people, including Stem cells – science and ethics – BBSRC.

The other week I was looking for this sort of thing for a homework project one of my children was doing so I’ll bookmark it for future referencing.

Could also be a useful set of materials for next year’s ethics class – looking at how ethical issues around stem cells are framed in educative settings.

Until Cryonics Do Us Part

It’s been a while since I looked at anything related to cryonics, having been more preoccupied lately with things related to religion, popular culture and/or new media, so I was interested to see this article on cryonics in the NY Times. Discussion about cryonics has tended to get subsumed in the hype about super-longevity research or bypassed stories of potential cybernetic immortality, but it apparently still continues to function as both a though experiment and a business.

Anyway, the article Until Cryonics Do Us Part – NYTimes.com comments on how the partners of cryonics proponents are not always as keen on the idea as the proponents. In the article, one of the interviewees comments:

“Cryonics,” Robin says, “has the problem of looking like you’re buying a one-way ticket to a foreign land.” To spend a family fortune in the quest to defeat cancer is not taken, in the American context, to be an act of selfishness. But to plan to be rocketed into the future — a future your family either has no interest in seeing, or believes we’ll never see anyway — is to begin to plot a life in which your current relationships have little meaning. Those who seek immortality are plotting an act of leaving, an act, as Robin puts it, “of betrayal and abandonment.”

One of the things I look at in my research is how the stories of technological salvation parallel those of religious salvation, and that comment above could equally applied to families of those who have a member ‘convert’ to a religion or ideology.

Related link: Greenflame · Death as an engineering problem – which has a number of links to documentaries on super-longevity.

Terry Pratchett on ‘assisted death’

Terry Pratchett on why ‘assisted death’ should be seriously considered – see Terry Pratchett: my case for a euthanasia tribunal | Society | The Guardian.

Of all the topics in ethics class last year, this one was the one most hotly debated by the students. Touches nerves on so many levels, I think, and not just theologically or spiritually.

Back from Christchurch

Quick visit to Christchurch for an ICBC meeting. Main item on the agenda was discussion of the following:

ERMA200223 – Application to develop in containment genetically modified goats, sheep and cows to produce human therapeutic proteins, or with altered levels of endogenous proteins for the study of gene function, milk composition and disease resistance

You can find all the relevant documents (which are all quite an interesting read) at the ERMA web site here (scroll down to ERMA200223).

Death as an engineering problem

Interview: Jason Silva on How Science Will Make You Live Forever looks at scientific ‘salvation’ stories.

Besides, by labeling death a problem, it shifts our complacent attitude about death and turns it into an engineering problem, one that we can solve, much as we have solved impossible problems in the past.

The film referred to in the article is available on YouTube at YouTube – THE IMMORTALISTS – a short film

Related films – YouTube – Quest for immortality (New Scientist) and Do You Want To Live Forever? (Channel 4).

See also: Greenflame · Death, bioethics and transhumanism