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Pediatrician Margaret Moon, a medical ethicist at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, has spent most of her career focused on decisions made in everyday practice. Recently, however, she’s taken an interest in how doctors can and should respond to requests for enhancements. Currently, those enhancements are largely aesthetic (think: breast enhancement) or pharmaceutical (think: Adderall for those without ADD), but Moon understands that the situation is likely to change as bionic technologies improve. The desire to become a Swiss Army man is understandable and perhaps inevitable, but the ethics of unnecessary procedures are complex. No doctor will replace a natural limb with a bionic arm — no matter how advanced the prosthetic — until there is clarity on whether doing so violates the dictate to “do no harm.”

Inverse spoke with Dr. Moon about the ways we can enhance ourselves now and the way we’ll be able to enhance ourselves in the distant future.

If a person went to a doctor today and said, ‘I want to cut off my perfectly healthy limb to get an advanced prosthetic,’ what would happen?

I think a physician would be way outside professional boundaries to agree to cut off a healthy leg to give somebody a chance to try a fancy prosthesis. I think that would be way outside anybody’s sense of professional boundaries. But those boundaries change, with technology, and with experience, and with social pressures. So all of this is open to discussion moving forward.

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