Developments in bioengineering just in the past decade have given us much greater power over human diseases, over crops needed to sustain a growing global population, and much else. But our ever-increasing power raises deep and troubling questions. Human experimentation greatly facilitates medical progress, but without limits, such research can contradict the humanity that makes medical progress meaningful. Is “informed consent” sufficient to protect against this danger? CRISPR offers the capacity to engineer the genomes of other species, and even of our own. Is it right for us to tamper with other species for our own good?  Regarding humans, are there lines we shouldn’t cross? Is there a fundamental difference between therapy and enhancement? Are we in danger of transforming humanity itself in ways we can’t anticipate and would not desire? Are we wise enough to wield the power modern science is giving us?

In the BE Version of Ethics for Engineers, we read and discuss a wide range of engineering CASE STUDIES, with a focus on bioengineering.  Case studies include:

  • Engineering disasters
  • Covid vaccine distribution among wealthy and poor countries
  • Bias in American medicine
  • The origin of Covid, and preventing something similar from happening again
  • Addressing climate change
  • Racism and informed consent in clinical trials
  • Theranos
  • Using CRISPR to manipulate animal and human genomes