Saturday, 25 September 2010

Fixed: the science/fiction of human enhancement

What does disabled mean when a man with no legs can run faster than many Olympic sprinters? With prenatal screening able to predict hundreds of probable conditions, who should determine what kind of people get to be born? If you could augment your body's capabilities in any way imaginable what would you do? From pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to neural implants to bionic limbs, researchers around the world are hard at work developing a myriad of technologies to fix or enhance the human body. What does it mean to design better humans and should we want to?

FIXED takes a critical look at the direction of emerging human enhancement technologies through the eyes of three people with significant disabilities a scientist, a journalist, and a community organizer who each play very different roles in this developing field. Gregor Wolbring is a biochemist, bioethicist and disability and ability studies scholar at the University of Calgary, in Calgary, Alberta and lectures worldwide on human enhancement technologies and ableism. John Hockenberry is an Emmy and Peabody award winning journalist, author and distinguished fellow at the MIT Media Lab where he works to promote research into human-machine collaborations. Patty Berne works at the Center for Genetics and Society as the Director of the Project on Race, Disability and Eugenics where she focuses on raising awareness about the ethical implications of emerging prenatal screening technologies. What these three individuals a scientist, a journalist and a community organizer — all have in common is a personal experience with disability and a passionate engagement in the debates around human enhancement technologies and yet what they are each fighting for is quite different. Through their unique experiences of both living with a disability and being experts in their field, what emerges is a textured debate that tackles some of the most pertinent social and ethical questions of today. MIT neuroscientist Ed Boyden, transhumanist James Hughes, MIT robot scientist Rodney Brooks, and bioethicist Marcy Darnovsky also contribute to deepening the issues, revealing the social tensions that underlie these emerging technologies in surprising ways.

Through a dynamic mix of verite, archival and interview footage, FIXED: THE SCIENCE/FICTION OF HUMAN ENHANCEMENT challenges notions of normal, the body and fundamentally what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Produced, directed and edited by Regan Brashear.
Trailer edited by Josh Peterson.
The full documentary is currently in post-production.

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