Re: Cow egg, human gene combo created stir

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Tue, 08 Jun 1999 15:41:10 -0500

> A human-animal hybrid, particularly one that would not be implanted in a
> uterus and could not become a child, could provide a neat solution to the
> ethical problems some Americans have with human embryo research, said Thomas
> Murray, president of the Hastings Center, an ethics think tank. ACT has said
> it has no plans to implant human-cow embryos.
> "Suppose there was a way to create stem cells without creating embryos," he
> said. "Many Americans who have qualms about working with embryos, that gives
> them another option. But I'm not personally enthusiastic about what ACT is
> doing."

Okay, now this one bothers even me. I don't have any problem with using human embryos as throwaways; as far as I'm concerned they're ethically equivalent to rocks as long as no neurons have formed. But I'd be really disturbed by letting neurons form in these embryos on the theory that they're not "really" human because they started out as cows. Human is as human thinks, and a "human" embryo is a matter of human DNA. These embryos aren't human because they don't have brains - not because they're hybrids.

It's not the throwaway part that disturbs me. It's the idea that these transplanted genes are somehow "less" human. While I admire their judo-like self-cancellation of technophobic attitudes, I think they're promoting dangerous prejudices.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way