Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, November 02, 2007

Scientists Shy Away from Human Enhancement...Again

I have written before about this phenomenon and wondered aloud about its psychological and sociological underpinnings. Here I go again. The article in question describes the creation of so-called super-mice: able to leap tall buildings, etc., but very quickly quotes the researchers as follows:
They emphasized that the aim of the research was not to prepare the way to enhance the genes of people.
And again:
"We humans have exactly the same gene. But this is not something that you'd do to a human. It's completely wrong. We do not think that this mouse model is an appropriate model for human gene therapy. It is currently not possible to introduce genes into the skeletal muscles of humans and it would not be ethical to even try."
No, no, no. We aren't even thinking of enhancing anybody. That would be wrong. We only want to help cure diseases:
Professor Hanson accepted that it was possible athletes might misuse any future drug developed in this way. He said: "It's very possible. It's a different approach to putting a gene into a human. I would only do that to help anyone who suffers from disorders such as cystic fibrosis."
Apparently it's politically incorrect to consider making humans better. We can only use science to bring everyone to the same level. I absolutely believe that we should find cures for diseases. I also believe that we should not shy away from enhancing ourselves.

How will the current mentality play itself out? I know there are researchers out there working at human enhancement, but when will it be seen as "ethical"? Will it ever?

The mouse that shook the world

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l9ms said...

I'm not against the enhancement of the body, but what is at stake here is whom this enhancement will reach and benefit most. Certain people are going to be priveleged at the expense of others and there is no doubt it will be exploited for military use or security or sport.

While I believe there's nothing morally "wrong" with modifying human genes, especially in an attempt to better ourselves and lead humanity away from suffering, this kind of development should have to be made available to a far broader section of society. We want to aim for equality, but considering economics and our sacred notions of "the body as humanity", it doesn't seem plausible.

I think it's hypocritical to manipulate the genes of animals but to assume that man is somehow "not allowed" to engineer his own evolution.