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Information and communication technologies (ICT) pervade our lives. Thus far, this pervasive influence has mainly involved devices that we use for private purposes or at the work place such as personal computers, mobile phones, laptops and the like. Due to new developments these devices are becoming more and more part of our bodies, either because we wear them (wearable computing) or because they are implanted in our bodies.
At first sight ICT implants are ethically unproblematic if we think for instance about cardiac pacemakers. However, although ICT implants may be used to repair deficient bodily capabilities they can also be misused, particularly if these devices are accessible via digital networks. One might even think of such devices as a threat to human dignity and particularly to the integrity of the human body (see Section 5), while for others such implants might be seen primarily as a means for restoring damaged human capabilities and therefore as a contribution to the promotion of human dignity.
The idea of letting ICT devices get under our skin in order not just to repair but even to enhance human capabilities gives rise to science fiction visions with threat and/or benefit characteristics. However, in some cases, the implantation of microchips is already taking place with the potential for individual and social forms of control.

Additional information

Authors: RODOTÀ S, European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission, Brussels (BE);CAPURRO R, European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies to the European Commission, Brussels (BE)
Bibliographic Reference: Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2005, 157 pp Free of charge
Availability: Catalogue Number: KA-AJ-05-020-3A-C The paper version can be ordered online and the PDF version downloaded at:
ISBN: ISBN 92-894-9351-8
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