What happens to human ethics when technology makes the unimaginable commonplace? From sexual liberation to climate change, technologist and TED superstar Juan Enriquez is here to challenge what you think you know about the future.
Most people have a strong sense of right and wrong, and they aren’t shy about expressing their opinions. But when we take a polarising stand on something we regard as an eternal truth, we often forget that ethics evolve over time. Many shifts in the right versus wrong pendulum are driven by advances in technology. Our great-grandparents might be shocked by in vitro fertilisation; our great-grandchildren might be shocked by the messiness of pregnancy, childbirth, and unedited genes.
Juan Enriquez has thought deeply about these questions and many more. From a playing a leading part in Mexican politics, to publishing groundbreaking nucleotide research, founding the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School, and investing in start-ups across the globe, he may be the leading authority on the economic and political consequences of biotechnology. In conversation with futurist Sinead Bovell, he will reflect on what happens to our ethics as technology makes the once unimaginable a commonplace occurrence.
Evolving technology changes ethics. Technology challenges old beliefs and upends institutions that do not grow and change. With wit and compassion, Enriquez takes on a series of technology-influenced ethical dilemmas, from sexual liberation to climate change to the “immortality” of mistakes on social media. He will caution us to judge those who “should have known better,” given today’s vantage point, with less fury and more compassion. We need a quality often absent in today’s charged debates: humility. Judge those in the past as we hope to be judged in the future.