[extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] Transhumanism: menace or threat?

Terry W. Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Sat May 28 19:22:02 UTC 2005


The most dangerous idea on earth?
By Stephen Cave and Friederike von Tiesenhausen Cave
Published: May 27 2005 12:42 | Last updated: May 27 2005 12:42


It is easy to see how you could be tempted. It might start with 
genetically screening your children for a lower risk of a hereditary 
cancer. Or perhaps with a pill that promised to keep your memory fresh 
and clear into old age.
But what if, while you were having your future children engineered to 
be cancer-free, you were offered the chance to make them musically 
gifted? Or, if instead of taking a memory-enhancing pill, you were 
offered a neural implant that would instantly make you fluent in all 
the world’s languages? Or cleverer by half? Wouldn’t it be difficult to 
say no? And what if you were offered a whole new body - one that would 
never decay or grow old?
A growing number of people believe these will be the fruits of the 
revolutions in biotechnology expected this century. And they consider 
it every individual’s right to take advantage of these changes. They 
think it will soon be within our reach to become something more than 
human - healthier, stronger, cleverer. All we have to do is live long 
enough to be around when science makes these advances. If we are, then 
we may just live forever.
This idea, known as transhumanism, is steadily spreading from a handful 
of cranks and Star Trek fans into the mainstream and across the 
Atlantic. But it is an idea that Francis Fukuyama, famed for 
proclaiming the end of history when US-style liberal democracy 
triumphed in the cold war, has described as the most dangerous in the 
Fukuyama’s answer to the threat of transhumanism is straightforward: 
stringent regulation. Despite the current deregulatory mood in America, 
his views chime with those of the anti-abortion right, a core 
constituency of the Bush administration. When President George W. Bush 
first came to power, he set up his Council on Bioethics to, as he put 
it, “help people like me understand what the terms mean and how to come 
to grips with how medicine and science interface with the dignity of 
the issue of life and the dignity of life, and the notion that life is 
- you know, that there is a Creator”.
Members of the president’s Council on Bioethics, on which Fukuyama 
sits, are widely credited with crafting Bush’s stem cell policy, which 
saw a ban on federal funding for research on new stem cell lines. This 
propelled the question of regulating biotechnology to the top of the 
political agenda. During the Democratic Party Convention last year, 
presidential candidate John Kerry mentioned stem cell research more 
often than unemployment.

"Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright 1992, Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1 at mindspring.com >
     Alternate: < fortean1 at msn.com >
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