Assertion: I would count myself a definite advocate of human
meta-programming, genetic manipulation, and interfacing with microprocessor
technology. I recognize humanity as a beautiful actualization of classical
evolution, but also that we are on the verge of accelerated, directed
evolution via advanced technologies. I embrace human self-modification (and
what the heck, why not our evolutionary cousins? Why not our ecosystem?).
But, as with any new technology, I think it necessary to consider the social
and economic implications.
Genetic engineering already seems to be creeping into acceptance. It starts
with genetic screening: inform parents, for example, of possible genetic
anomalies in their embryonic offspring,
'Your child appears to have a predisposition towards acquiring Parkinsons
someday, having a slow metabolism, and has a low count of tandem repeats on
the novelty-seeking gene. He'll probably have average intelligence. Would
you like to terminate? If you like, we can exert some influence on your next
child. Would you like to have a boy or a girl, Mr. Smith? We'll just filter
your sperm through liquid albumin, detect the molecular weight differential
of the DNA (the difference between X and Y chromosomal content) and implant
the gender of your choice. And we'll screen out those low-intelligence
potentials if you like... And for $30.000 more, we can engineer your child
superior motor-coordination potential so he/she'll have a better chance at
that Basketball scholarship...'
Where do you draw the line between rectifying genetic disease and choosing
the eye color of your offspring?
Is one okay and not the other?
Personally, I'd love to affect genetic optimization of my offspring. But I
think we need to be aware of the issues that arise: For example, the 'haves'
will have 'better' offspring, while the 'have-nots' won't be able to afford
all the 'kinder-mods'. And what happens if and when everybody can afford
it? Are we all going to optimize our offspring's genetic predispositions
towards some arbitrarily-chosen 'superior quality set'? There goes the
genetic diversity of the human race... It would be sad if humans turned out
to have a gene pool like the poor cheetahs. What happens if the environment
changes drastically, say, due to an asteroid impact that we failed to
prevent because nobody funded the hurtling-space-rock-defense program? Will
we have the genetic diversity to ensure the continued survival of our kind?
And is the process of deliberately manipulating your child's genetic
blueprint fair to the child? It/he/she doesn't seem to have much of a
choice in the matter at the time. I can see it now: little Susan files a
lawsuit against her parents for giving her basketball genes when all she
ever wanted to be was a doctor...
As for direct interface between the nervous system and computer technology,
it seems like an obvious and tangible transhumanist endeavor. I spend a lot
of my time pondering the integration of the human nervous system and
microprocessors (and also the extensions of that basic interface -
telepathy, anyone? How about downloading images from satellites, directly to
your visual field?). I would love to connect and learn from people with a
similar vision. I am currently seeking a graduate-level program, if such a
thing exists, dedicated or related to the exploration of these
possibilities. I have thus far been unsuccessful, not because the idealists
aren't out there, but because it seems like 'fringe science' like this just
doesn't get a lot of funding (unless of course there is immediate military
application - but must I really go out and join the Air Force to participate
in this field?). If any of you bright people know of anybody out there
working on making this possible, I would be very interested in initiating
contact with them. I actually have an outline for an experiment I would
love to try, on animal or insect models.
From: Ian Field [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2000 11:17 PM
Subject: a new thread
Any thoughts on human genetic manipulation? Say, with the purpose of
creating a workable interface between an electronic microprocessor and a
human mind? Throw in some nanotechnology for physical interaction...
Education equates to software development... Implications?
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:11:09 MDT