Modifying Human Bodies

There’s a nice article over on Wired discussing body modification. From an industrial designer’s perspective, the discussion is an interesting one. From the article (Link):

Even if Haeck were inclined to install devil horns on a patient’s head, he wouldn’t be allowed to under the rules of his profession: Modifying the body toward societal ideals is considered ethical, but any modification away from those ideals is unethical and comes with potentially stiff penalties.

That frustrates Haworth and Vidra. “The American Medical Association says you can’t modify the body away from what society says is normal,” says Haworth. But what society deems normal changes.

I wonder if the medical profession has similar “ideals” regarding abnormal anti-aging technologies or RFID implants or implants that somehow improve human performance without changing outward appearance? There certainly doesn’t appear to be any shortage of physicians willing to supply professional athletes with drugs that enhance performance (with side effects, of course).

Last I checked, steroids modify a body. But I guess huge biceps are ideal and well worth the dangerous change in a user’s behavior. I guess the medical community thinks aggression is okay too.

I often discuss “convergence” on this blog but I don’t often explore how far that goes. Seems to me the medical community is having it’s own run in with the concept.

So at what point will technological advancement force them to review their ethical guidelines and update them so they can deal with what’s to come? If they’re not prepared for these simple changes to our bodies, they can’t be ready now. Then again, when it comes down to it, will those ethics make any real difference? I doubt it. Chiba City, here we come.