Bioengagement - Winter 2017

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The promise and perils of advances in technology, science, and medicine have long been fertile fodder for creative works in literature and cinema. Consequently, a variety of resources exist exploring the realm of medical humanities as well as those providing in-depth analysis of a given cultural medium or particular artifact. This column seeks to offer a more expansive listing of contemporary expressions of bioethical issues in the popular media (fiction, film, and television)—with minimal commentary—to encompass a wider spectrum of popular culture. It will be of value to educators and others for conversations in the classroom, over a cup of coffee, at a book club, or around the dinner table. Readers are cautioned that these resources represent a wide spectrum of genres and content, and may not be appropriate for all audiences. For more comprehensive databases of the various cultural media, please visit our website at If you have a suggestion for us to include in the future, send us a note at


Ben Bova, Colony

(CreateSpace, 2016).

Cognitive Enhancement, Designer Baby, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics.

Ben Bova, Farside

(Tor Science Fiction, 2013).

Human Enhancement, Nanotechnology, Radical Life Extension, Regenerative Medicine.

Dan Brown, Origin

(Doubleday, 2017).

Artificial Intelligence, Personhood, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

(Broadway Books, 2012).

Emerging Technology, Neuroethics, Technology & Society, Virtual Reality.

James Dashner, The Morality Doctrine Series

  • The Eye of Minds (Ember, 2014).
  • The Rule of Thoughts (Ember, 2016).
  • The Game of Lives (Ember, 2017).

Artificial Intelligences, Cognitive Upload, Cyborgs, Neuroethics, Radical Life Extension, Transhumanism/Posthumanism, Virtual Reality.

Annalee Newitz, Autonomous

(Tor Books, 2017).

Artificial Intelligence, Gene Editing, Human-Computer Interaction, Human Enhancement, Intellectual Property, Personhood, Robotics, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Larry Niven, The Ringworld Series

  • Ringworld (Ballantine, 1970).
  • The Ringworld Engineers (Phantasia, 1980).
  • The Ringworld Throne (Del Rey, 1997).
  • Ringworld’s Children (Tor Books, 2005).
  • Fate of Worlds with Edward Lerner (Tor Science Fiction, 2013).

Artificial Intelligence, Neuroethics, Radical Life Extension, Regenerative Medicine.

James Patterson, Humans, Bow Down

(Little, Brown and Company, 2017).

Artificial Intelligence, Personhood, Robotics.

Alastair Reynolds, Terminal World

(Ace, 2010).

Human Enhancement, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Alastair Reynolds, The House of Suns

(Ace, 2009).

Artificial Intelligence, Cloning, Neuroethics, Posthumanism/Transhumanism, Radical Life Extension.

Jeff Somers, The Avery Cates Series

  • Electric Church (Orbit, 2007).
  • Digital Plague (Orbit, 2008).
  • The Eternal Prison (Orbit, 2009).

Artificial Intelligence, Cyborgs, Cognitive Upload, Human Enhancement, Nanotechnology, Neuroethics, Personhood, Radical Life Extension, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Dystopian future vision of emerging technologies run amok, complete with nanotech zombie epidemics, cognitive uploading, and a religion espousing digital immortality. The series follows Avery Cates as he transitions from run-of-the-mill killer-for-hire to international assassin to washed-up criminal embroiled in a battle for the future and survival of humanity.

Ned Vizzini, Be More Chill

(Disney-Hyperion, 2005).

Human Enhancement, Cognitive Enhancement, Neuroethics.

Jeremy is your classic high school student struggling with self-esteem. Enter Rich, someone who until the not so distant past was just like Jeremy, but now is the epitome of cool. The secret to Rich’s transformation is a black market pill (“squip”) that he promises will solve all of Jeremy’s problems by means of a little brain boosting.

Bioethics at the Box Office

Blade Runner 2049

(2017, R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language).

Artificial Intelligence, Identity & Memory, Personhood, Robotics, Transhumanism/Posthumanism.

Ghost in the Shell

(2017, PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images).

Cognitive upload, Cyborg, Emerging Technologies, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Personhood, Research Ethics, Transhumanism/Posthumanism, Robotics.


(2017, PG for thematic elements including bullying, and some mild language).

Disability, Human Dignity.

Primetime Bioethics



Disaster Ethics, Regenerative Medicine, Research Ethics.

Agents of Shield

(2016, Season 4).

Artificial Intelligence, Cyborg, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Personhood, Radical Life Extension, Transhumanism/Posthumanism, Virtual Reality.

Altered Carbon


Artificial Intelligence, Cyborg, Human Enhancement, Neuroethics, Radical Life Extension, Regenerative Medicine, Transhumanism/Posthumanism, Virtual Reality.



Augmented Reality, Cognitive Enhancement, Neuroethics. Privacy, Technology & Society.



Consent, Eugenics, Population Control, Research Ethics.



Bioterrorism, Cryogenics, Disaster Ethics, Organ Trafficking, Radical Life Extension, Surrogacy.

Dark Matters


Artificial Intelligence, Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Nanotechnology, Personhood, Robotics.

Luke Cage


Human Enhancement, Research Ethics, Transhumanism.

Orphan Black

(2016, Season 4).

Designer Babies, Genetic Engineering, Human Cloning, Human Enhancement, Regenerative Medicine, Research Ethics.

The Rain


Bioterrorism, Disaster Ethics, Genetic Engineering, Pandemics, Research Ethics.