15-18 November 2017, the Plenary Assembly looked at The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology.
The meeting had four sessions:
1) The Ground Map: Anthropological Models
An historical overview of the anthropological models that underlie past and future ideologies and cultural models in order to study their dynamics and influences and an examination of the ethical problems that such cultural currents raise. A focus on the distinction between the sexes, the relation of paternity and maternity, the dignity of each person, personal responsibility for our actions, immortality, and the uniqueness and superiority of humans over animals.
2) Redesigning Human Nature: Medicine and Genetics
Starting with the changing definition of nature, this reflection looked at how scientific advances such as genetic engineering will influence humanity and its relationship with God. Discussions addressed the anthropological and cultural perspectives and the many issues raised by efforts to manipulate DNA and create a stronger new genotype.
3) The Human Person, the Brain and the Soul: Neurosciences
This reflection discussesed issues from the neuro-cognitive sciences such as the relationship of mind and body, the origin of religiosity, the phenomena related to biological/physiological determination of the brain, the significance of human activities, the implications of discoveries about the neuronal bases of knowledge, and the question of free will. Then there was consideration of to what extent this knowledge can be harmonized with the anthropology of our Christian tradition.
4) In the Society of Intelligent Machines: Artificial Intelligence
With a focus on the impact of “digitalization,” this reflection examined the future of developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence to change human behavior and activity.