Human Augmentation Code of Ethics Adopted

Updated: Feb 14

The Human Augmentation Code of Ethics was formally adopted on January 17, 2020, during a public virtual meeting consisting of academics, organizers, entrepreneurs, and practitioners in fields related to human augmentation. The adoption of this code was the culmination of nearly two years of research, drafting, gatherings, discussions, and public comment periods. This Code of Ethics initiative can be traced back to April 15, 2018, during a meeting at Grindfest 04 in Tehachapi, California. During the course of this meeting, it was agreed that a “Code of Ethics” would be explored for possible adoption by the human augmentation community. Two participants in the meeting, Amanda Plimpton and Ryan O’Shea, volunteered to spearhead this project. Joined by bioethicist Alex Pearlman and community builder Trevor Goodman, they began to study existing documents focused on bioethics, bodily autonomy, medical research, human rights, and other related topics.

The original draft of the Human Augmentation Code of Ethics was largely inspired by similar codes published by a non-profit organization known as DIYbio. In 2011, DIYbio convened congresses to develop these codes with the hopes that they would serve as frameworks for establishing vibrant, productive and safe DIYbio communities. Due to overlapping interests, the DIYbio codes served as a valuable starting point. Other noteworthy documents that were referenced during this period include the Belmont Report, The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, Human by Design: An Ethical Framework for Human Augmentation, The Cyborg Bill of Rights v1.0, and the World Health Organization’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. To overcome the geographical barriers that could be presented by in-person congresses, the Human Augmentation Code of Ethics was created over an extended period of time through a series of discussions and workshops. These formal and informal gatherings occurred at events throughout 2019 such as DEF CON 27 (August 8-10 in Las Vegas, NV), Biohack the Planet (August 31-September 1 in Las Vegas, NV), Please Try This at Home (September 14-15 in Pittsburgh, PA), and the Global Community Biosummit 3.0 (October 11-13 at MIT Media Lab, Boston, MA). There were three official drafts of the Human Augmentation Code of Ethics. The first was created through community discussion before being opened to a public comment period lasting from August 19, 2019 until September 24, 2019. A second draft was created based on this feedback, and another public comment was launched lasting from September 25, 2019 until December 13, 2019. Again the feedback was reviewed and a third draft was created. The third and final public comment period began on December 14, 2019 and lasted until the Code of Ethics was updated and formally adopted on January 17, 2020. The Code of Ethics is planned to be a living document that will be reviewed, updated, and re-adopted as needed. Initially, the plan is to review the document annually. If glaring errors or omissions are made apparent between reviews, or if changing times require an updated Code, it can be altered as needed according to the policies established by the Human Augmentation Institute. As of February 2020, the next review is tentatively scheduled for January of 2021.

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