Attention-grabbing advances in robotics and neurotechnology have caused many to rethink the concept of human disability. A paraplegic man in a robotic suit took the first kick at the 2014 World Cup, for instance, and the FDA has approved a bionic arm controlled with signals from the brain. It’s not hard to imagine that soon these advances may allow people to run, lift, and even think better than what is currently considered “normal”—challenging what it means to be human. But some in the disability community reject these technologies; for others, accessing them can be an overwhelmingly expensive and bureaucratic process. As these technological innovations look more and more like human engineering, will we need to reconsider what it means to be able and disabled?
We’ll discuss these questions and more at noon on Wednesday, March 4, at the New America office in Washington, D.C. The event is presented by Future Tense in collaboration with the award-winning documentary on disability and technology Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement. You can find the event agenda and the trailer for Fixed below; to RSVP, click here. The venue is wheelchair accessible, and an American Sign Language interpreter will be present.
The event will also be streamed live on the New America website.
Noon: Engineering Ability
Executive director, Neurotech Network
CEO, ReWalk Robotics
Senior technology writer, Slate
12:45 p.m.: The Promise and Peril of Human Enhancement
Associate professor, University of Calgary
Director of programs, Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Teresa Blankmeyer Burke
Assistant professor of philosophy, Gallaudet University
Public affairs specialist, National Council on Disability