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Building better humans?

“Technology and the law operate at two vastly different speeds, with the legal community continually playing catch-up. This seminar turns the tables, allowing us to look at issues related to technologies that haven’t been invented yet, issues that will compel us to make difficult choices in the future.”

Jeremy Hessing-Lewis, third-year law student and participant in the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section's Seminar Technorico: Building Better Humans?

A “post-human” world created by the merging of people and technology may seem like distant fantasy, but the gap between science fiction and reality is quickly narrowing, raising important challenges for society, notes third-year law student Jeremy Hessing-Lewis.

In January 2008, Hessing-Lewis and fellow University of Ottawa law students teamed up with their counterparts from the University of Puerto Rico to study these challenges in Technorico: Building Better Humans? The intensive three-week seminar, taught by Professor Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology, and hosted jointly by the two universities, looked at the social consequences of cyborg technologies used to enhance and perhaps redesign the human condition.

Hessing-Lewis, who chose the University of Ottawa for its unique Law and Technology Program, says Technorico’s innovative bi-national and bi-juridical examination of the legal and ethical implications of the “human-machine merger” make it an eye-opening experience for law students of both countries.

The former vice-president of the Technology Law Society, who has also gained valuable national and international research experience on technology-related privacy and environmental issues while at the University of Ottawa, will be putting his talents to work this spring when he begins articling for a law firm in his hometown of Vancouver.