Top image

EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2004

Transcendence or transgressions?

What we would like to focus on in this last session is how knowledge and new technologies growing out of research on time/aging may, if they are applied on an industrial scale, end up affecting the quality and the length of the human lifespan. Is there a way to assess the likely impact such future 'geronbiotechnology' scenarios would have on people's perceptions of themselves as members of society as well as individuals? In focusing on different kinds of modern-day life-extension projects associated with anti-aging medicine and 'the biology of time/aging' we would like to assess the social and ethical implications of this new enabling knowledge. Will it be beneficial for society, or, inversely, will it bring new areas of risk and inequalities with life-lengthening eugenics becoming the exclusive reserve of those who can afford it? What effect would mastery of biological time/aging have on how identities are socially constituted and sustained? Will increased knowledge of 'the biology of time/aging' enable us to distance ourselves from what has hereto been regarded as immutable biological determinants of the life course and its trajectory? What are the possibilities and limits to the malleability of our biological constitution?