Public awareness & perceptions of human enhancement technologies



Implants, drugs, genetic enhancement and prosthetics can enhance human abilities. But using technology for human enhancement comes with ethical, legal and social challenges. As a society, we need to discuss the ethical questions of what is normal, what is natural, what is moral and what can be permitted. SIENNA asked 11,000 people in 11 countries what they think about technologies that can be used to improve human abilities. It turns out that South African, Greek and Brazilian respondents were most positive towards the use of different human enhancement technologies, while people in Germany, the US and France were more hesitant. Curious about what they think we should and should not enhance? Read our report! 

As part of the SIENNA project, the University of Twente commissioned Kantar, an independent research organisation, to conduct a survey to assess public awareness and perceptions of artificial intelligence and robotics, human enhancement, and genomics.

Telephone surveys of around 1,000 adults were conducted in seven EU countries (France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden) and 4 non-EU countries (Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, USA).

Key findings

Nearly half of respondents were more positive than negative towards human enhancement technologies when considering the impact it could have on their own countries. Men, younger people (aged 18-34), and people with university degrees were most positive towards human enhancement technologies.

  • 56% supported technology to improve people’s moral values, with 41% opposing
  • 55% supported technology to make people more intelligent, with 43% opposing
  • 52% supported technology to allow a person to choose a particular emotion, with 46% opposing
  • 47% supported technology to make people live to 120 years old, with 50% opposing

When asked who should have access to these technologies, a majority of respondents answered that human enhancement technologies should be available to all adults 18 and over, or to everyone (including babies and children). Especially in the case of technology promoting longevity, where a majority agree children and babies should also get access.

Looking at the all country average, a large majority of respondents (81%) thought that their country would be different in 20 years because of human enhancement technology, of which a third (35%) thought it would be very different.

In all countries apart from the USA, respondents most commonly thought either scientists or the government should be responsible for ensuring the safety of human enhancement technology. Respondents in the USA were most likely to say that individuals who use the technology should be most responsible. 

Download the report

Explore SIENNA results (Link removed)





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Disclaimer: This website and its contents reflects only SIENNA's view. The Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.