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Advances across a broad front in the social, natural, and technological sciences are challenging our traditional notions of human nature and calling into question the terms of self-description that define our distinctive place and purpose within the order of the world. Blurring the boundaries between humans, animals, and machines, these advances raise theoretical and practical issues of profound importance for the future of human civilization.

This project is driven by three central questions:

  1. What is it to be human? What biological, social, and cultural qualities and capacities define and distinguish the human species? An important subset of this question is the range of variation in human physical, social, and cultural expression.

  2. What physical constitution, social conditions, and cultural configurations promote the fullest flourishing of our distinct human nature?

  3. What role will our ideas, perspectives, and technological powers play as we go forward into our human future?

Grounded in the active dialogue of an ongoing Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar with our Stanford and Silicon Valley colleagues, together with the input of an international conference of experts, we will address these questions and explore the practical and conceptual challenges posed by emerging bio and information technologies.

Within the frame of these perspectives, we will organize a major multidisciplinary project that seeks a coherent physical, cultural, and philosophical anthropology – an understanding of the 'boundaries of humanity' that defends human dignity and promotes the personal, social, and spiritual flourishing of human life.