For the fifth year in a row, the University of Notre Dame’s John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values has released a list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology that we should be talking about in the coming year.

This year, the issues range from freezing brains to swarms of drones and highlight issues in robotics, neuroscience, education, and medical management.

The goal of the annual list is to present items for scientists, policy makers, journalists, teachers, students, and the public to consider in the coming months and years as new technologies develop. The Reilly Center will follow up on the list with programming and events for its students and the public in 2017.

This year's list includes:

NeuV’s “emotion engine”

A blend of artificial intelligence, robotics, and big data that lets your car know how you’re feeling.

Swarm warfare

DARPA is looking for a way for drones to act in unison so that hundreds or thousands can be controlled on the battlefield at the same time.

Reanimating cryonics

An old fad that now aims to freeze your brain so it can be downloaded into a computer in the future.


By 2026 we may have a large marketplace of informal experts and learners exchanging skills and knowledge for money, buying and selling education piece by piece.

Brain hacking

Wearable devices that measure EEG waves are easy to come by, but a simple hack into your headset could reveal a whole host of your most private information.

The self-healing body

There are at least two projects going on now that aim to create bots so small they can move through your blood or attach to your nerve endings. Either by electrical stimulation or a release of chemicals, these bots may regulate our bodies before we even know something is wrong.

Medical ghost management

Pharmaceutical companies can hire firms to perform their clinical trials, write up the research, find academics to put their names on publications, place them in journals, and run their marketing campaigns. An invisible and monumental conflict of interest.

Predicting criminality

Two researchers are returning to the pseudoscience of physiognomy, claiming that they can program a computer to guess with great accuracy whether or not someone is a criminal.

Automated politics

What can we do about the thousands of Twitter bots that post hundreds of times a day with the purpose of misleading voters and skewing public opinion?

The robot cloud

A combination of massive data transfers between robots and programming robots to solve problems in their “dreams” means it's time to talk about how much autonomy we should give them. 

The Reilly Center explores conceptual, ethical, and policy issues where science and technology intersect with society from different disciplinary perspectives. Its goal is to promote the advancement of science and technology for the common good. You can find us at