And Do the Bioethicists Understand Enough of the Science?

To be well-versed in how a discovery might impact society or a particular individual, bioethicists need to comprehend the discovery. It is hard to say how much science or technology they need to master. The more complex the discovery, the better an understanding helps in informing a solution. In the privacy sphere understanding the basics (even the definitions of) cybersecurity, blockchain technology, edge computing, or computer generated data reidentification capabilities is necessary in some cases, yet basic privacy considerations can be outcomes-based. (Is it ok for bioethicists to say we do not care how it is done, but data must be kept safe?) In genetics, knowing the capabilities of gene editing and which applications of it would result in inheritable traits is necessary. In the topic of environmental ethics, understanding the causes and contributors to climate change, the options for sustainable energy, and the discoveries that recycle plastics, or remove plastic from the ocean is important. Without knowing all aspects of how they work, ethicists contribute to the limits on and can expand the scope of the discovery. It is a synergistic field where bioethics contributes. To harness the interdisciplinary nature to reap a whole larger than just a sum of each field’s contribution, a cross-categorical knowledge base or the ability to read up and quickly absorb the basics is key.

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