Re: "Sound and Fury" over enhancements

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Jan 10 2002 - 00:04:54 MST wrote:

>Yet among the deaf community the issue is highly troublesome. The main
> issue is that the deaf see themselves as a separate group with a separate
> culture, almost like an ethnic or religious group. They have their own
> language (ASL) and their own customs, and face common challenges. Deaf
> people often marry other deaf people. They are bound tightly together.
> But all this is defined by their handicap. Giving a child hearing means
> that they will no longer be part of their community. They may learn
> ASL but they won't really need it to survive. They won't face the
> same challenges and problems. They will not be part of the culture.
> For the deaf parents faced with the question of getting their child a
> cochlear implant, they face the loss of their child from their culture.

So what? This is precisely what happens in any relatively
isolated culture when the kids have a way and interest in moving
on or the outside world breaks through the barriers. How can we
as parents want anything less than the best possible for our
children even if it will result from them moving away and being
too different from us for our relationship to be comfortable?

> It is possible that this may be a precursor to some of the biological
> enhancements which will become possible in future decades. If you are
> human, would you take steps to make your child transhuman, if it meant
> that you would lose the child from your culture? Suppose you could
> give him some kind of ESP implant and allow them to join in a communal
> consciousness, for example? He might abandon the use of speech, and
> begin to act in ways which you could never hope to emulate, sharing
> perceptions from other enhanced individuals.

As long as I knew the steps were safe and effective and
particularly if the child was of an age to understand and
consent, then you bet I would. In a heartbeat. I would also
encourage any and all of my circle of people who might for some
reason be capable of or desire to change in ways that made them
not part of my circle to do so. Would I have some mixed
feelings and sense of loss? Sure. But why would I think those
feelings and avoiding them were more important than the growth
and fullest well-being of these others I profess to care so
deeply about? Of course, I would work my butt off to make sure
the ESP implant could also work for those who grew up without it!

- samantha

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