Original Paper

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 1017-1038

First online:

Converging Technologies: A Critical Analysis of Cognitive Enhancement for Public Policy Application

  • Christos MakridisAffiliated withDepartment of Engineering, Huang Engineering Center, Stanford UniversityNorth American Center for Transborder Study Email author 

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This paper investigates cognitive enhancement, specifically biological cognitive enhancement (BCE), as a converging technology, and its implications for public policy. With an increasing rate of technological advancements, the legal, social, and economic frameworks lag behind the scientific advancements that they support. This lag poses significant challenges for policymakers if it is not dealt with sufficiently within the right analytical context. Therefore, the driving question behind this paper is, “What contingencies inform the advancement of biological cognitive enhancement, and what would society look like under this set of assumptions?” The paper is divided into five components: (1) defining the current policy context for BCEs, (2) analyzing the current social and economic outcomes to BCEs, (3) investigating the context of cost-benefit arguments in relation to BCEs, (4) proposing an analytical model for evaluating contingencies for BCE development, and (5) evaluating a simulated policy, social, technological, and economic context given the contingencies. In order to manage the risk and uncertainty inherent in technological change, BCEs’ drivers must be scrutinized and evaluated.


Cognitive enhancement Biological cognitive enhancement Technology change Public values Technology governance Risk management