[Paleopsych] CBC: Will Human Beings Remain Truly Human? by Wesley J. Smith

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Will Human Beings Remain Truly Human? by Wesley J. Smith

    [15](Register for the Techno-Sapien Conference Today)

    Brave New World is closing in upon us at mach speed. Consider the mind
    boggling technological potentials that have gone, in just the last few
    years, from science fiction to very real science potential. The most
    obvious of these is the prospect of human cloning. But following just
    behind that biotechnology is a radical concept that makes cloning seem
    about as novel as a transistor radio; the drive toward a post human
    world known as "transhumanism."

    Transhumanism is a nascent and explicitly eugenic philosophy that
    advocates seizing control of human evolution through bioengineering.
    Transhumanists come from the highest levels of academe. The founder of
    the movement, Nick Bostrom, is a professor of philosophy at Yale
    University who recently received a three-year fellowship at Oxford
    University. Other pioneer transhumanists include Professor James
    Hughes of Trinity College, Hartford, and Gregory Stock, director of
    the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at the School of
    Medicine, UCLA and author of the recent book, Redesigning Humans.

    Transhumanists are biotech-absolutists. They assert that humans should
    not merely be allowed to metamorphose themselves through plastic
    surgery, cyber-technology, and the like, but should have the right to
    control the destiny of their genes via progeny design and fabrication.
    This could include replacing natural chromosomes with artificial
    chromosomes, increasing or decreasing the number of chromosomes in
    offspring or clones, and even in Hughes words, "mixing species

    University of Alabama bioethicist Gregory E. Pence, an enthusiastic
    proponent of cloning-to-produce-children, also promotes mixing human
    and animal genes. In his book, Who's Afraid of Human Cloning? Pence
    writes, "In some ultimate sense, humans are both nothing more, and as
    wonderful as, compassionate monkeys." By "weakening the ethical
    boundary between non-human and human animals," he asserts that it will
    be easier to "do to humans some of the things we think quite sane to
    do to animals," beginning with cloning and moving from there to
    genetic modification.

    Transhumanists intend to take us on a long march to post humanity. If
    that is not to happen, we will have to resist. Unfortunately,
    transhumanists have arrived among us at a weak moment when traditional
    sanctity-of-human-life cultural norms have been undermined
    significantly. But the future won't wait for us to regain our moral
    equilibrium. Genetic science is advancing at an almost reckless pace.
    If we are going to maintain the equal dignity of all human life in the
    face of the biotechnological threat, society will have to act.

    Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics has
    written, "It is our difficult task to find ways to preserve [society]
    from the soft dehumanizations of well-meaning but hubristic
    biotechnical 'recreationism'-and to do it without undermining
    biomedical science or rejecting its genuine contributions to human
    welfare." This crucial task will require informed and committed public
    participation in which people become aware of both the potentials and
    perils of our unfolding technological world, and be able to
    distinguish between the two.

    This is why the upcoming CBC conference---"Technosapians: The Face of
    the Future?" -is so important. The conference will bring together some
    of the leading thinkers on these issues in one place to debate,
    discuss, and ponder the potential consequences of transhumanism and a
    post human future. I urge all to attend, and then be willing to
    participate through our democratic institutions in helping society
    benefit from biotechnology without succumbing to it.

    Author Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute
    is a special consultant to the CBC. He is currently working on books
    about human cloning and animal rights.


   15. http://www.thecbc.org/redesigned/research_display.php?id=118

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