OPINION ESSAY

A New Web Could be Coming. Will It Improve Human Health?

A number of emerging technologies are in the mix to define Web3, the next era of the digital age. They could contribute to our overall health and well-being.

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

The Web has provided numerous benefits over the years, but users have also experienced issues related to privacy, cybersecurity, income inequality, and addiction which negatively impact their quality of life. In important ways, the Web has yet to meet its potential to support human health.

Now, engineers are in the process of developing a new version of the Web, called Web3, which would seek to address the Web’s current shortcomings through a mix of new technologies.

It could also create new problems. Industrial revolutions, including new versions of the Web, have trade-offs. While many activists tend to focus on the negative aspects of Web3 technologies, they overlook some of the potential benefits to health and the environment that aren’t as easily quantifiable such as less stressful lives, fewer hours required for work, and a higher standard of living. What emerging technologies are in the mix to define the new era of the digital age, and how will they contribute to our overall health and well-being?

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Randall Mayes
Randall Mayes is a technology analyst, author, futurist (technology forecaster), and instructor of emerging technologies in Duke University’s OLLI program.
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Should We Use Technologies to Enhance Morality?

Should we welcome biomedical technologies that could enhance our ability to tell right from wrong and improve behaviors that are considered immoral such as dishonesty, prejudice and antisocial aggression?

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Our moral ‘hardware’ evolved over 100,000 years ago while humans were still scratching the savannah. The perils we encountered back then were radically different from those that confront us now. To survive and flourish in the face of complex future challenges our archaic operating systems might need an upgrade – in non-traditional ways.

Morality refers to standards of right and wrong when it comes to our beliefs, behaviors, and intentions. Broadly, moral enhancement is the use of biomedical technology to improve moral functioning. This could include augmenting empathy, altruism, or moral reasoning, or curbing antisocial traits like outgroup bias and aggression.

The claims related to moral enhancement are grand and polarizing: it’s been both tendered as a solution to humanity’s existential crises and bluntly dismissed as an armchair hypothesis. So, does the concept have any purchase? The answer leans heavily on our definition and expectations.

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Cohen Marcus Lionel Brown
Cohen Marcus Lionel Brown teaches and researches ethics and applied philosophy at UOW in Greater Sydney, Australia. Specifically, he works on questions in neuroethics, moral psychology, aggression studies, and human enhancement. He is a current member of the Australasian Association of Philosophy Postgraduate Committee, Sydney Health Ethics Network, and the International Society for Research on Aggression. Cohen also works as a judge of the International Ethics Olympiad, and volunteers with the not-for-profit organization Primary Ethics. Find him on Twitter @CohenMarcusLio1
Waste smothering our oceans is worth billions – here’s what we can do with all that sh$t

In 2015, human poop was valued at $9.5 billion per year, which today would be $11.5 billion. The Ocean Sewage Alliance is uniting experts from key sectors to change how we handle our sewage and, in the process, create all sorts of economic benefits.

Photo by Simon Arthur on Unsplash

There’s hardly a person out there who hasn’t heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That type of pollution is impossible to miss. It stares you in the face from pictures and videos of sea turtles with drinking straws up their noses and acres of plastic swirling in the sea.

It demands you to solve the problem—and it works. The campaign to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans has resulted in new policies, including bans on microplastics in personal care products, technology to clean up the plastic, and even new plastic-like materials that are better for the environment.

But there’s a different type of pollution smothering the ocean as you read this. Unfortunately, this one is almost invisible, but no less damaging. In fact, it’s even more serious than plastic and most people have no idea it even exists. It is literally under our noses, destroying our oceans, lakes, and rivers – and yet we are missing it completely while contributing to it daily. In fact, we exacerbate it multiple times a day—every time we use the bathroom.

It is the way we do our sewage.

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Stephanie Wear
Stephanie Wear is a marine scientist who has spent over two decades working with The Nature Conservancy to protect oceans for the benefit of marine life and the people that love and depend on it. She recently co-founded the Ocean Sewage Alliance and loves to talk sh$t with anyone who will listen.