Conference: REGULATING THE TYRELL CORPORATION: COMPANY LAW AND THE EMERGENCE OF NOVEL BEINGS

8 October 2018

Thursday 25th October 2018, 10:00-17:00

Friday 26th October 2018, 9.30-17:00 with drinks and canapés from 17:00 till 19:00

Venue: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE

Advances in synthetic genetic technologies and artificial intelligence research promise the emergence of new forms of life, some of which may be conscious and will thus pose entirely new challenges for the law. Their advent may require a re-evaluation of Homo sapiens’ legal and social primacy; and will pose disruptive global challenges for society and the law as regards the moral status of these beings, their protections, their freedoms, their obligations, and our own towards them. It seems likely that these technologies will be the product of public companies and in particular multinational corporations, and we may find ourselves facing the cyberpunk future represented by Blade Runner’s Tyrell Corporation. Dr Lawrence and Dr Morley have received funding from the Wellcome Trust to conduct a project of research into this area, with a specific focus on how we might control companies’ development of these beings via regulation. A new network of expertise has been created through a number of events prior to this conference, considering these future technological developments and beginning to suggest practical legal definitions for the status of both conscious and unconscious novel beings. A future goal for this group is to assist in developing proposals for appropriate regulation for the responsible development, operation, and disposal of the technologies. A roundtable (January 2018) comprising renowned experts in ethics and law- including Professors John Harris and Chris Reed, and Drs Sarah Chan and Ruth Stirton- formed the nucleus of this network and set the agenda for our research. The first symposium (held in April 2018) considered the interplay between consciousness, responsibility, and liability, and attempted to provide a basis for developing workable legal definitions of consciousness that may be applicable in many fields of law – which will be essential for assessing levels of accountability required by companies, or the new beings themselves and any rights that might be bestowed upon them. The second symposium (held in June 2018) built upon the first and specifically address the responsibility of companies in the development, operation, and disposal of these technologies. Morally significant questions are currently not answered by the law; for example, as the law stands Directors are not required to consider whether these beings have a right to life, to liberty, or to self-ownership; nor to the impacts its existence and operations may have on society. We invite you to join us at the two-day final conference of this project, which will continue the work of these symposia and bring together a variety of researchers of disparate fields (including medical law and jurisprudence, policymakers, legal practitioners, and computer scientists) alongside new perspectives from neuroscience, neurology, consciousness studies and bioengineering in order to set the stage for future investigations of these legal conflicts and their wider implications.

Convenors: Dr Sarah Morley, Dr David Lawrence

If you’d like to attend, please register for free ASAP by contacting: sarah.morley [at] ncl.ac.uk with any dietary requirements.

Agenda – Thursday 25th October

Arrival – 10.00am

Registration and coffee

Introduction- 11:00- 11:30

Dr Sarah Morley, Dr David Lawrence (Newcastle University)

Session 1- NOVEL BEINGS 11:30-12:30, CHAIR: Dr Sarah Morley

11:30- Dr David Lawrence (Newcastle University)

12:00- Professor John Harris (Professor Emeritus, Manchester University, Visiting Professor, King’s College London)

Lunch- 12:30-13:30

Session 2- LEGAL CHALLENGES 13:30-15:00, CHAIR: Professor Mathias Siems

13:30- Dr Aisling McMahon (Maynooth University, IRE)

14:00- Mr Chris Riley (Durham University) and Dr Oludara Akanmidu (De Montfort University)

14:30- Professor Dirk Zetzsche (University of Luxembourg, LU)

Coffee Break- 15:00-15:30

Session 3- OTHER MINDS 15:30-16:30, CHAIR: Professor Lilian Edwards

15:30- Dr Joshua Jowitt (Newcastle University)

16:00- Dr Gardar Arnason (University of Tübingen, GER)

16:30- Dr Henry Shevlin (University of Cambridge)

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Theatre: Genesis – the ethics of genetic testing for disease pre-disposition

30 October 2016

11th – 12th November The Lowry

15th – 19th November Soho Theatre

22nd November Beggar’s Theatre Cumbria

23rd November Preston Continental

24th November Cast Doncaster

Rachel is a leading geneticist. A predictor, a planner, a rationalist.

She identifies gene mutations that increase the risk of developing breast cancer – allowing action to be taken before the disease has even had chance to develop. Whether it is surgery or a course of drugs, it is all about prevention.

But on discovering that she and her daughter might be carrying a gene mutation themselves, Rachel starts to wonder if predicting illness through science throws up more questions than it can answer.

When science offers you the chance to look into the future of your own health, or your family’s, would you always want to know?

Developed in collaboration with Manchester-based charity Prevent Breast Cancer, this daring new play by acclaimed playwright Frazer Flintham explores their pioneering research and the complex human dilemmas around preventative medicine.

Ticket details available from the company’s website.


Panel discussion: Direct to consumer genetic testing

11 April 2015

Thursday 23 April, 2015, 18:45

Lecture theatre 1, New Hunt’s House, Guy’s Campus, King’s College London

What would you like to know about yourself? Whether you’re susceptible to hearing loss? How you might respond to certain drugs? Whether you’re genetically wired to drink more caffeine? Until very recently, finding answers to these questions would have cost you thousands of pounds. These days, however, anyone can have their DNA sequenced for a little over £100.

Thanks to the rise in popularity of companies such as 23andMe, home genetic testing – banned in the US until just last month and now available in Britain – has become not only more affordable, but also more accessible. At the click of a button (submission of a small saliva sample and a six to eight week wait) you can have a wealth of information at your fingertips which could allow you to make informed decisions about how you live, potentially maximising the future of your health.

But just because we can, does it mean we should? How do we regulate these companies and the technology they are using? Just how accurate are these tests? And who exactly has access to our data?

Join a panel of experts including Dr Stuart Hogarth, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine, Professor Christopher Shaw, Director, Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute, and Professor Frances Flinter, Consultant in Clinical Genetics at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, as they consider the many ethical dimensions of DIY genetic testing.

To book a place: email alumnoff@kcl.ac.uk or call 020 7848 3053


International Summer School: Pluripotent Stem Cells

11 April 2015

September, 28th – October, 2nd, 2015 

Studienhaus Gut Schönwag near Munich, Germany.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 10th May 2015

The Institute Technology • Theology • Natural Sciences (TTN) at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich organizes an international scientific summer school, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, on the subject: “Pluripotent Stem Cells. Scientific practice of stem cell research: ethical, legal and social aspects and discourses”

Human stem cell research is one of the so-called “hope-, hype- and fear-technologies”. Shinya Yamanaka’s development of a technique to reprogram somatic cells to ‘induced pluripotent’ stem cells in 2006 relighted new and intense ethical and legal discussions to the established embryonic
stem cell debate. Especially the recourse to developmental biological totipotency as criterion for the evaluation of the ethical, legal and ontological status of stem cells is being challenged by new techniques to create possibly totipotent entities.

The aim of this summer school is to provide a context for international and multi-disciplinary dialogue in order to reconstruct the current debates and their background on stem cell research in Germany and Great Britain and to discuss foundations for a more consistent ethical evaluation and legal framing of the life sciences.

Comparing the cultural differences of the debates, the ethical evaluations, and the juridical frameworks in the two countries is productive as they are considered as counterparts: While in Great Britain a utilitarian, case-based tradition of ethical and political decision-making is supposed to have led to one of the most liberal regulations of embryonic stem cell research, the perseverative discussion of the status and the dignity of the embryo in Germany might have led to its strict but inconsistent regulation of research involving embryos. These attributions are to be scrutinized and a deeper understanding of the state of research and debate as well as their societal and cultural preconditions is to be developed by the investigation of the contrast.

The program includes talks of the participants and the speakers, moderated discussions, insights in the practice of stem cell research through the visit of a laboratory and the presentation of a research project as well as cultural evening events. Main subject areas will be:

  • State of the molecular biological debate
  • Epistemological and ethical status of stem cells
  • Philosophical and sociological reflections on life sciences research
  • Ethical, legal and social aspects of the stem cell debate in Great Britain and Germany
  • Recommendations for a European and International stem cell regulation

Speakers

Prof. Dr. Peter Dabrock Systematic Theology (Ethics), Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg; Member of the German Ethics Council
Prof. Dr. Christine Hauskeller Philosophy and Sociology, University of Exeter; Member of the Central Ethics Committee on stem cell research of the Robert-Koch-Institut
Prof. Dr. Jens Kersten Public Law and Administrative Law, LMU Munich; Chairman of the scientific advisory committee of the Institute TTN
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Winkler Molecular Neurology, University Clinic of Erlangen; Spokesperson of the Bavarian research association “Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells”

We invite up to 12 young researchers from all areas of the field to present and discuss their work within an interdisciplinary group of young scientists and a team of high profile experts from the different disciplines in the field. Applications should contain an abstract of about 500 words describing your paper, a CV and a list of publications. Application deadline: May 10th, 2015

Travel and accomodation expenses will be reimbursed. After the conference, participants are expected to submit their revised paper as a book chapter for which a honorarium of 300 Euro will be paid. We also offer a free child care during the summer school, please contact us in advance in case of interest.

For further information and submission of applications please contact Anja Pichl: anja.pichl@elkb.de Further information is also available here.


Symposium: How Companies Use Genetic and Health Data: Protecting Patient Confidence

6 January 2015

Friday 30th January 2015, 09:30 – 16:30, Sheffield Law School

Sheffield Institute for Biotechnology Law and Ethics (SIBLE) and the Wellcome Trust are holding a symposium to consider the appropriate use of patient health and genetic data by commercial organisations.

The symposium will provide an opportunity to hear and discuss the approach to commercial access to data taken by some key national and international projects and resources. There is evidence that commercial access to data is relevant to public confidence in the safeguards and governance designed to protect health and genetic data. What controls on access currently exist? To what extent do these controls currently regulate access by commercial organisations?

This is an opportunity to share current practice and consider alternative views on commercial access to genetic and health data in the future. From a commercial perspective, what are potential uses of genetic and health data in practice? From a patient and public perspective, what approach toward regulating access to commercial organisations, or for commercial use, might best promote public trust and confidence?

The event is open to anyone interested in the issues and may be relevant to policy makers, those responsible for managing access to health and genetic resources, patients, and members of the public.

Programme and booking information here.

For enquiries relating to this event please contact the Research Support Team at the School of Law: law-research@sheffield.ac.uk


Job: Policy Analyst (Biomedical Law and Regulation)

7 November 2013

Policy Analyst (Biomedical Law and Regulation)
PHG Foundation

Cambridge, UK
£35 – 40K per annum plus benefits
Full time or part time (min 28 hours p.w.)

The PHG Foundation is looking for a talented and enthusiastic professional with a legal background who is passionate about seeing biomedical research translated effectively into healthcare. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team, your role will be to provide sound legal and regulatory analysis for the Foundation’s health policy projects.

We are open-minded about background, but you must have a good first degree in law, social science, philosophy or similar subject; an excellent grasp of the legal, regulatory and ethical landscape around genomics and health; and first class analytical, drafting and communication skills. A postgraduate qualification in medical law, ethics or similar would be a distinct advantage but, most importantly, you must be able to transfer your academic grounding into actionable policy applications.

You will be an excellent networker and have the personal qualities to work creatively and effectively in a small team of highly-motivated colleagues who are committed to developing the PHG Foundation as an international health policy institute.

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.

The deadline for applications is 5pm, Thursday 14 November 2013. Interviews will be held in Cambridge on 25 November 2013.


Lectures: CMLE Lent Lectures on ‘Genetics, Ethics and the Law’

31 January 2013

Tuesday 5th February, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Dr Nina Hallowell, Programme Lead, PHG Foundation
“Cancer Genetics: Socioethics and Decision-making about Risk”

NB The remaining lectures are all on Thursdays.

Thursday 21st February, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Ruth Chadwick, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Cardiff
“Risk and Responsibility: From Genome to Epigene”

Thursday 28th February, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Mike Parker, ETHOX Centre, Oxford
“Ethical Problems and Genetics Practice”

Thursday 7th March, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Anneke Lucassen, Professor of Clinical Genetics, University of Southhampton
“Genetic Medicine in the 21st Century: Do we Need to Approach Consent and Confidentiality Differently?”

Thursday 14th March, 1-2pm, Moot Court, Somerset House
Professor Graeme Laurie, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence,University of Edinburgh
“The Right Not to Know? Privacy Implications of Feedback Policies involving Genetic Data”

The lectures are open to all and are free to attend. Visitors without King’s identification will need to enter Somerset House via the East Wing Reception and ask for directions. This can be found towards the lower right-hand side of the courtyard behind the main King’s driveway on the Strand.