This topic is one that will probably be very complicated to the non-scientific mind, as with my own. So I will not attempt too much shop talk here, only a basic overview. But, even those of us without a biotechnology degree, will understand the basic horrors of this new frontier.
American political science commentator Francis Fukuyama was once quoted as saying that "transhumanism" is the world's most dangerous idea. What is transhumanism? Well, in brief, it benignly began with the new technologies of prosthetics and implants, (innocent enough) but then led to cognitive enhancing drugs, genetic engineering, or neuro-implants to total artificial intelligence and augmented realities. Transhumanists boast that the newly engineered humans will enjoy a projected life-span of over 120 years with these new controversial technologies. But will it truly be human life .. or a sci-fi interpretation of humanity?
The recent movie, "Surrogates" depicts a futuristic society, in which humans use surrogate robotic clones of themselves, which they live through. The humans sit immobilized and hooked up to computerized controls of their robots, who navigate the outside world for their human agent. The humans can now live through a sort of virtual reality, with their robotic counter parts, who do not feel pain, or age, and are almost totally indestructible, doing all the work for them.
Transhumanism is not exactly like creating a robotic surrogate to navigate the outside world for people. It's more like the humans themselves will become the robots, with more and more technology taking over their physical entities. How will this come about?
Again, without getting too technical here, one method is the mixing of genes and or cells of animals with humans and vice-versa, in order to manipulate the human organism into a more designer type of being. Another, will be through cognitive enhancing drugs, genetic engineering, or neuro-implants that will further evolve this new ape. Artificial intelligence and augmented reality ... whatever that means ... is promised to be integrated into everyday behavior. But, how human will transhuman humans be?
In the movie "Splice" a scientist splices the genes of animals with humans, and creates a totally new creature, that is part human, part animal. ACHM is the acronym for animals containing human material. Mice with human-derived livers, goats with human blood cells, and other animals containing human genes or cells, are being argued as valuable tools in medical research. But how will such research be regulated, and by what or whose ethical guidelines?
The British Academy of Medical Sciences recommended that the U.K. government establish an expert commission to regulate certain types of these experiments with animals containing human material. But, apparently, the real motive of the author of the report, was that early public discussion of these controversial experiments, might encourage wider acceptance of such research, and diffuse any public aversion. "We are trying to get this issue out there before anything has happened," said geneticist Martin Bobrow of the University of Cambridge, who chaired the academy's working group. He went on to say, "If the public has heard something, they are less likely to get irritable when something does hit the headlines."
Really? Is that called, "breaking the news gently" - that we are about to be turned into a bunch of hybrid, humanoids? Even some of the regulations are a horror. One suggested regulation, was that human embryos mixed with non-human primates, not be allowed to develop beyond 14 days. Embryos that are "predominantly animal", however, containing only some human cells are presently unregulated in the United Kingdom. The report recommends closing that loophole. Really.
Of course, the beginnings of this brave new world, will naturally be in the area of human reproduction. Did you think it wouldn't? Children will be "planned", along with their entire genetic make-up. What genetic make-up are they referring to I wonder? Cat or mouse? IVF and surrogacy will become the norm for having children, with parents being required to apply for a license to have their little transhuman offspring.
The other boast of this new transhumanistic society, will be the "absolute right to bodily autonomy". We saw that one coming, didn't we. Drug usage would not be regulated. "Abortion, assisted suicide, voluntary amputation, gender reassignment, surrogate pregnancy, body modification, legal unions among adults of any number, and consenting sexual practices would be protected under law." What a brave new world!
Rights discourse will shift to personhood instead of common humanity. Of course they suggest a sliding scale of this new transhumanist personhood, based on "sentience, empathy, self awareness, tool use, (tool use?) problem solving, social behaviors, language use, and abstract reasoning." What end of the scale would you fit into?
Well, Charles Darwin's apes have come a long way baby!
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