BINCA’s 5th Anniversary

BINCA’s 5th Anniversary

by Nicole Hilbert Alcántara

The interdisciplinary group of ‘’Clinical Bioethics and Neuroethics of Anahuac University’’, previously known as ‘’Bioethics and Clinical Neuroethics and Investigation Anahuac’’, celebrated its fifth anniversary on Friday 20th of September, commemorating members and people who have actively participated to ensure constant development and growth of the group. Special recognition was given to students founding members, the first generation of the interdisciplinary neuroethics diploma, to other essential members and to each person who is currently part of the group. Dreams which were established in the beginning where reminisced. It was acknowledged how the initial objectives were achieved, and how this has filled the team with new dreams, goals and expectations.

The event was inaugurated by the assistant of coordination, Juan Carlos Casillas Alcalá, who joined the team in 2017. ‘’It has been 5 years of constant questioning, reasoning, discussing to find knowledge, organizing meetings to enhance research and to comprehend problematics through science and humanities‘’.

These words were followed by three videos which showed the group’s activities. The first video showed events which have taken place in the last 2 years and mentioned some accomplishments during this period. Additionally, it reflected some of the feelings through which the current members relate with the group.

The next one was a speech given by Dr. Maria Elizabeth De Los Rios, president of the Interdisciplinary Cathedra of Clinical Bioethics. Here, special recognition was given to Dr. Mariel Kalkach, for ‘fighting for her dreams’, to father Antonio Cabrera for giving the group ‘wings to fly’ and ‘looking for new horizons’, and lastly to Mr. Adolfo del Valle for ‘supporting bioethics projects which are good to society’. The speech was ended by explaining how BINCA not only is a synonym for knowledge but also of community; sisterhood and brotherhood, it is a family.

The last video was a message by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, Dr. Alberto García Gómez: ‘’I still remember the days when Dr. José Damián and Dr. Mariel Kalkach joined a summer course and discussed about neuro-bioethical, anthropological, juridical and social perspectives. Because of this idea was born, and shortly after it became reality’’.

Unfortunately, due to other compromises as president of the Mexican society in Neurological Surgery, Dr. José Damian Carrillo Ruiz couldn’t attend the event. However, his speech, dedicated to BINCA, can be found on our website. His role as a great supporter in the creation and development of the group was mentioned by Dr. Mariel Kalkach, founder and coordinator of BINCA. She explained the academic necessities which incited the origin of the group: ‘’We sought to promote neuroethics in Mexico’’, and to this, practical matters were added such as ‘how to apply bioethics to the real world, whilst interacting with other professionals whose perspectives might show important differences?’. ‘’The weight of an academic title has to reflect on the theoretical and practical capacities of the graduate, and although in Mexico we count with brilliant academics and theorists in bioethics, we are lacking practical capacity.’’ With this mindset in 2014 a group of 7 undergraduates, dr. Kalkach, Dr. Carrillo and Dr. de los Ríos, was founded.

The founding alumni of BINCA: Tomás Moncada Habib, Katia Ávila, Mijail Tapia Moreno & Emiliano Montiel Nuñez.

We began with small sessions which throughout the years, and with a lot of efforts, turned into a growing audience of students and professionals of different backgrounds and institutions. Eventually, a tradition was born: promoting education with an interdisciplinary method. BINCA seeks that their academics and researchers ‘strip away their egos, prejudices and conventional postures, and look for an honest challenge to pursue truth’.
The objective is that students learn to work with this method. The relevance of interdisciplinarity and foundations of the group are well known to the current nuclear members: Sofía Yarza del Villar (med), Juan Carlos Casillas (med), Adrián Casillas (comm), Nicole Hilbert (med), Scarlett Huerta Pérez (med), Julio Téllez Gómez (psych), María Fernanda García Romero (med), Ana María Gutiérrez (med), Mariana Vargas Hoyo (med), y Aquetzali Andrés Millán (med). This tradition is always transmitted to new members who wish to join the team, such as this year’s newcomers; Saulo Guimel Romo Contreras (med), María Fernanda Rodríguez Pérez (psych) and José Guillermo Flores Vázquez (med).

After introducing the current BINCA team, founding members, Dr. Katia Ávila Fernández, Dr. Tomás Moncada Hadid, Dr. Emiliano Montiel Núñez y Dr. Mijail Tapia Moreno, shared their testimonies on BINCA. ‘’It was a pathway that let me grow personally and academically’’, ‘’BINCA is a great opportunity to grow because it draws you away from the ordinary’’, ‘’It’s a great opportunity to satisfy our curiosity’’, ‘’I was given the chance to accomplish my first publication, as well as to attend congresses as a speaker’’, and ‘’Without knowing what was going to happen, everything happened’’, were a few of the words which these members used to describe their unique experience at BINCA.

Later, Dr. Germán Carreto, coordinator of Virtual Education for the Interdisciplinary Neuroethics Diploma in 2018 (DIN2018) briefly described the course. The intensive course of 100 hours counted with the collaboration of 28 professors from different specialties and parts of the world. A total of 18 alumni took part, and 10 of them with ‘’excellent performance’’.   

Later on, Dr. Jorge Álvarez Díaz, winner of the World Health Organization’s award for ‘’Excellence in Iberoamerican Health and Bioethics’’, in 2007, and author of several articles and books, being the most recent one ‘’Neuroethics – relations between the mind/brain and moral/ethics’’ (Neuroética – relaciones entre mente/cerebro y moral/ética), gave a touching speech on the formation of neuroethicists, mentioning the fact that apart from the DIN2018, there is no other educational course in Neuroethics in the world. He explained the historical development of this branch, as well as its importance. ‘’It’s not only about reflecting, but to act’’, were words he used to describe BINCA.

Last but not least, Dr. Tomás Barrientos, Director of the Faculty of Health Sciences, in representation of Dr. Antonio Cabrera Cabrera, the Dean of the Bioethics Faculty who was also present in the event, gave a speech in order to show gratitude to BINCA’s hard work, endurance and performance through the years.

BINCA is a group of people who seek to better understand the world and create solutions through dialogue and practice, a dynamic form to promote the interest of current bioethics issues. BINCA looks to contribute to form a society which questions everyday problems and looks for solutions as a team. It’s an interdisciplinary group which integrates everyone’s expertisse and looks for auto-realization of each individual, without forgetting to grow as a team. BINCA is Clinical Bioethics and Neuroethics for everyone.

UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights has been renewed for other 4 years

UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights has been renewed for other 4 years

We are proud to share some words of the letter received from Borhene Chakroun, Director of Education Sector Division for policies and lifelong learning Systems (UNESCO).

“In light of the very good results achieved by the above-mentioned Chair, confirmed by the positive evaluation of its activities, l am pleased to inform you that UNESCO agrees to renew the above-mentioned Agreement for an additional period of four years until 7 July 2022. l am confident that the UNESCO Chair together with its partners, wilt continue to serve as a forum on bioethics, and contribute to the promotion of bioethics and human rights, multiculturalism and interreligious dialogue, through its interdisciplinary research, training and documentation.”

Prof. Alberto Garcia, Director of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights and the entire team of the Chair is enthusiastic of this achievement.

MASTERCLASS IN NEUROBIOETHICS: Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence – III Edition

MASTERCLASS IN NEUROBIOETHICS: Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence – III Edition

THE PROJECT AND ITS GOALS

The Neurobioethics Interdisciplinary Research Group (GdN) at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum (APRA) of Rome, inspired by the recent achievements made in the field of neurobioethics, robotics and technology, will dedicate its reflection, research, publication and formation of the year 2019-2020 to the critical analysis of “artificial intelligence”.

The potential that the evolution of algorithms has to offer to humanity has the power to arouse enthusiasm and hope for scientific innovation, but not all are convinced of its benefit as serious concerns have arisen. There is no doubt that our history is linked to the development of technology and, in the last century, to the exponential growth of computational innovations. Like every tool, artificial intelligence contributes to the human beings flourishing and to the common good, depending on the use that will be made of it. Indeed, the more powerful this product of human intelligence will be, the greater the potential benefit; but even more feared is the possible incurred damage that would be a consequence of its misuse. Therefore, an interdisciplinary reflection on the subject which explains the status of the art, the real future evolutions, the positive applications and the dangers of its misuse are matters of urgency.

The current solicitations of robotics, the development of artificial intelligence and the multiple applications of human empowerment call upon the men and the women of today to know more about these topics and their consequences in order to consciously decide the direction of neuro-technological progress.

The Neurobioethics Research Group (GdN) in continuity with the paths on Transhumanism (2017-2018) and on Roboethics (2018-2019) will offer a third specialization course for the academic year 2019-2020 (75 hours in total – 3 ECTS) on “Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence”. From October 2019 until June 2020 a course of ten monthly meetings will be proposed: seminars, round tables and the March conference inside of the Brain Awareness Week, promoted by the DANA Foundation. The course will develop the technological, neuroscientific, psychiatric, psychological, philosophical, ethical, legal and theological aspects of the so-called “artificial intelligence” in order to create a mature awareness of the applications of anthropological, ethical, legal, sanitary and social consequences of these innovations for the life of human beings.

This third specialization course in Neurobioethics “Neurobioethics and Artificial Intelligence” will collect the fruit of the interdisciplinary reflection of the GdN. It will be possible to follow the course both in presidential mode and online. The course is in Italian.

Particular emphasis will be given to the consideration of the issues related to the principles enshrined in the UNESCO Bioethics and Human Rights Declaration of 2005.

Promoters:

Faculty of Bioethics

UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights

Institute of Science and Faith

COURSE STRUCTURE

The course includes a two-hour monthly meeting (seminar or round table) starting on Friday 25/10/2019 until Friday 19/06/2020. The dates, times and classrooms of the meetings are the following:

10/25/2019, 17-19: 00, Aula Magna (2nd floor)

11/29/2019, 17-19: 00, Aula Magna (2nd floor)

12/13/2019, 17-19: 00, Aula Magna (2nd floor)

24/01/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

21/02/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

18/03/2020, World Brain Week Conference, 15-19: 00, Master Classroom (1st floor)

20/03/2020, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

24/04/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

22/05/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

19/06/2020, 17-19: 00, Thesis classroom (1st floor)

The specific contents and speakers will be communicated month by month and will progress from the technical-computational aspects of the algorithms up to the neuroscientific, psychiatric, psychological, philosophical, ethical, legal and theological issues concerning the development of the so-called “artificial intelligence”.

TARGET

This training course is created for all of those who wish to become more aware of the development, application to humans and the environment of “artificial intelligence”; specifically: politicians, bioethicists, engineers, teachers, trainers, doctors, philosophers and theologians. At the end of the course a certificate will be issued to the attendees, and after the evaluation of their summary of the course, 3 ECTS credits will be issued.

SIGNING UP

The registration fee and the total course fee is € 350.

Registration deadline: 10/31/2019

Coordinator of the specialization course:

Prof. P. Alberto Carrara, L.C.

Tel: 06/916891

info.bioetica@upra.org

For further informations

Prof. P. Alberto Carrara, L.C.

carraraneuroblog@gmail.com

Tel: 329/9157494

Joseph Tham participated in the International Workshop: Ethics of Biomedical Technology and Artificial Intelligence.

Joseph Tham participated in the International Workshop: Ethics of Biomedical Technology and Artificial Intelligence.

On May 31st, our Chair fellow Fr. Joseph Tham participated in the International Workshop: Ethics of Biomedical Technology and Artificial Intelligence. The workshop was organised by Global China Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong (CityU). He discussed the latest publication Interreligious Perspectives on Mind, Genes and the Self, which is based upon research and presentations given at the fifth Multicultural conference in Houston in 2016. 

The different book chapters of Interreligious Perspectives on Emerging Technologies represent a robust conversation of six religious groups regarding the interface of neuroscience and genetics with their traditions. Some Hindu scholars challenge the Western epistemological categories of religion, ethics and the relevance of such applications in science. All these world religions discuss the anthropological questions of selfhood and identity, the understanding of soul, spirit, mind and brain, and the relationship between the individual and the collective from their respective philosophies and theologies. They ponder if such novel technological applications on the genome or the brain can alter their long-held beliefs and whether they reduce the soul or selfhood to some matter of physics. Others worry about a form of determinism that negates the existence of our spiritual nature and free will. There is also a concern that such innovations may further propagate social discrimination and injustice. Finally, religious wisdom questions the prudence of “perfecting” humanity with the hubris of the transhumanist project.

Evangelizing culture through sport and interreligious dialogue: the example of the Vatican cricket team

Evangelizing culture through sport and interreligious dialogue: the example of the Vatican cricket team

by P. Sameer Advani – Jose Mathew

The Vatican’s cricket team, founded in 2014, is made up of priests and seminarians who study and work in Rome and is affiliated with the Pontifical Council for Culture and Sport of the Vatican under Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. Team members come from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Canada, Australia and Ireland. Fr. Eamonn O’Higgins, LC and P. Sameer Advani, LC, both professors of philosophy at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, are the managers of the team, and several of his players study in Regina Apostolorum and are formed in the Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae. The team has various objectives: to promote interreligious, ecumenical and intercultural dialogue, to increase awareness of the importance of religion for society, to address important social issues such as slavery and immigration, and to promote the spread of the Christian Gospel through cricket. Cricket matches therefore serve as platforms for bringing together different religious, social, and cultural communities and promoting what Pope Francis has called the “culture of dialogue”. The team then tries to engage and challenge leaders in the areas of religion, sports, media, and culture to work together for the common good. “We created the team because, although football is very popular in the traditionally Christian countries of Europe and South America, nothing could be compared to the popularity of cricket in Southeast Asia, which is predominantly Hindu and Muslim,” says P. Sameer. “Our idea is to use a language that we have in common with these groups and religions – the language of cricket – to start a dialogue with them.”

Most of our cultural tensions come because we don’t know each other. Ignorance is the source of almost all fundamentalisms, and cricket is a simple way to begin the process of true dialogue and friendship that lays the human foundations necessary for evangelization. No less important for Fr. Eamonn is the example of the Catholic priesthood and of the Catholic Church that is transmitted in this way. “We have so many stories in today’s press on the sins and failures of priests,” he says, “but to see 15 young seminarians, happy, who love their vocation and eager to serve the church, give much hope for the future and transmit a positive image that touches the hearts of many people.” Finally, concludes P. Sameer, “the dialogue between public reason and the rich heritage and accumulated wisdom of religious traditions is the key to building a society that truly respects man and seeks his good, and in a small way but importantly, we want to contribute to this essential task.” As a means to achieve these goals, the team played several high-profile games in its brief history, engaging in five“Light of Faith Tours.”In 2014, 2016, and 2018 they toured England playing matches against Anglican, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu-Sikh teams in some of the country’s most iconic locations: Lords in London, Headingly in York, Edgbaston in Birmingham, and Kent Spitfire Ground. The team also played against His Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s The Royal Household Cricket Club at Windsor Castle twice, and in 2018 they launched the Commonwealth Cup and Peace at the Crease initiative with Baroness Patricia Scotland, the Secretary General for the Commonwealth.

In 2017, the team traveled to Portugal and played against Muslim, Hindu, and Jewish teams in preparation for Pope Francis’ trip to the country for the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions, and in 2018 they visited Buenos Aires, Argentina. Furthermore, they have played games against the Cricket Without Borders program that wants to help young people in poor neighborhoods through cricket. “Pope Benedict has often said that the essence of Christianity is a personal encounter with God,” concludes Fr. Sameer. “Through cricket, and in a simple but real way, I think we have helped many people, Christians and non-Christians, to meet again, in a deeper way, with God. The transformation and evangelization of culture are achieved in this way­– when people have been touched by God– and it’s incredible to see and participate in a project like a Vatican cricket team that God has and continues to use to get closer to us.”