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Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Ethics of Biohacking: Setting a Process That Starts in Data

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As biohacking becomes ever more popular in the process of helping people improve their lives, one question we may want to ask ourselves is, “Is there a right or wrong way to participate as a Biohacker?”.

As the biohacking industry grows with the potential of greatly enhancing lives for the better, we need to be sure we’re asking some important questions – not just “Can we…?” but “Should we…?”. Millennia of biology have added up to our current biological makeup. Shouldn’t we put a standard in place to ensure our biohacking efforts are proving to be beneficial? Are we opening doors to problematic or harmful future “hacks” for our biology? 

Ethics of Biohacking

The entire field of biology and medicine operates under a basic ethical standard. For example, the Hippocratic Oath is the basis for nearly all of the oaths taken by medical professionals and researchers. The values apply to any field that addresses improving human life: Do no harm. The difficulty is often determining when harm might possibly occur.

In any emerging field, it can be exciting to make new discoveries and surge ahead. It’s intoxicating to explore what possibilities may come as people gain further interest in the biohacking conversation and contribute their input to the community.

The danger comes in when we hear a biohack has worked for someone, and we blindly decide to do the same. Have we considered all of the variables? Have we asked the right questions that may keep us safe? The answer is in the data.

Biohacking Driven By Data

Ethics have been a serious factor in our technological development for all of the modern era. There is never a guarantee that research and development can be only helpful and completely without risk. But the safest way forward is through careful use of data. Data drives progress. By carefully monitoring effects and results we are able to see what is safe, what is working, and what isn’t.

Biohacking should be completely driven by data. The very beginning of the biohacking process should be anchored by data collection. Various testing, wearable monitoring technology, and all of the careful research conducted in laboratory experiments worldwide are useful to the mission of biohacking.

Before taking any steps in making changes to your biology, it is important to take the proper steps to become informed of the pros and cons of doing so. Biohacking is about knowing your DNA, knowing your personal biology – then improving it in meaningful ways.

Like much of medical and technological development, biohacking is about improving life.  This being our basis, doesn’t it make sense that as effective Biohackers, it is up to us to ensure we develop and follow an ethical standard that starts in data? We should take the time to measure what about our biology we want to change, find a suitable method of doing so, and re-measure our results frequently. If we’re able to share our results with the rest of the community, others may benefit from our experience, bringing value to the community as a whole.

Ethical Biohacking

Commitment to ethical biohacking starts with careful research and data collection. We have to know our own biology and exactly how we’re trying to modify it. We need to know how our biohacking will affect our bodies and our futures. When we begin with careful data collection and assessment we can enjoy ethical, helpful biohacking that has the potential to change lives.

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