Cyborg-Ethics Film Festival (Edinburgh, 22 – 24 Nov 2013)

Cyborg-Ethics Film Festival | Filmhouse, Edinburgh | 22 – 24 Nov 2013

cyborgethicsHow far can human beings go, when replacing their body parts with that of machines, before they become cyborgs? Will humanity eventually become obsolete? Should individuals download themselves into their computers before they die? What would these new developments mean for their identity?

You are invited to explore and debate such issues around cyborg-science, human behaviour and ethics at the 2013 Biomedical Ethics Film Festival – this year branded the Cyborg-Ethics Film Festival – which will take place at Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 November 2013.

The Festival (which is the first Cyborg-Ethics Film Festival in the World) will feature a range of stimulating cyborg-ethically themed films and documentaries including:

Tron (1982) in which a hacker is digitally broken down into a data stream by a software pirate and reconstituted into the internal, 3-D graphical world of computers.

Repo Men (2010) in which humans have, in the future, extended and improved their lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a bio-robotic company. However, if you do not pay your bill, the company sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property.

The film entitled Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement (2013) will be having its UK premiere. This new documentary questions commonly held beliefs about disability and normalcy by exploring technologies that promise to change human bodies and minds forever.

Also forming part of the Festival programme will be a “double bill” of Doctor Who: Rise of the Cybermen + The Age of Steel (2006) in which a plan is attempted to upgrade humanity by using homeless people and turning them into cyborgs (named the Cybermen).

Following each screening the audience will have the opportunity to debate issues raised in the film with an expert panel.  Experts participating in these discussions include:  Prof. Gerard Magill, Professor of Healthcare Ethics, Duquesne University, USA; Professor Graeme Laurie, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh, School of Law and Dr. Patricia Vargas, Director of the Robotics Laboratory, Lecturer in Computer Science and Robotics, School of Mathematical and Computer Science, Heriot-Watt University.

Speaking ahead of the Festival, Dr. Gill Haddow, deputy director of the Mason Institute at the University of Edinburgh said: “Every day, we rely on technologies that are implanted into the human body for health purposes such as cochlear implants, cardiac devices and glucose monitors.  However, with scientific and medical advances in the area of implantable technologies will increasing use of implants begin to affect what we are as well as who we are? What are the political, social and economic consequences of relying on this technology?  This is an exciting event where everyone is invited to speculate on the ethics of a cyborg future”.

Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research for the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, and Festival co-ordinator commented: “Questions around humanity, robotics and identity have always been important subjects for filmmakers.  The films screened during our Festival all raise questions about the degree to which an individual can still be considered a human being, and the ethical implications that result from this.  The discussions that follow each film – featuring experts in biomedicine, biology, sociology and ethics – will allow audiences to consider further the degree to which our bodies influence who we are and what the consequences of this might be.”

The film festival is organised in partnership with: (1) the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics (2) Filmhouse, Edinburgh and (3) Mason Institute, School of Law, The University of Edinburgh. For full information on the programme and panellists, visit our web site.

About Centre for Medical Humanities

Centre for Medical Humanities
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