As researchers in photonics we have both opportunities to positively impact people's lives and responsibilities to assist in ethical integration of these important new and disruptive technologies into modern society. While photonics provides solutions to critical global issues, such as key technology for measuring the environment and mitigating the impact of climate change, we are also developing new capabilities, which test society's legal and moral frameworks. Photonics enables the internet and social networking, high throughput sequencing of the human genome, pre-implantation testing of human embryos, measurement and control of neural networks in vivo—advances which present significant ethical challenges.
In addition, as scientists we are part of a global research community with the common goal of openly sharing our knowledge world-wide. Knowledge gives competitive and strategic advantages to those having access to it, leading to government pressure to limit free access to and unrestricted dissemination of scientific research. How do we reconcile our national responsibilities and loyalties with our responsibilities as members of the global scientific community to openly share our knowledge? These pressures become particularly acute when most of our research funding comes from federal/national sources.
Both students and faculty are welcome and encouraged to participate in an open discussion of these topics over lunch.