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Genetic Crossroads
June 12th, 2000

1. Report on "Enhancing the Human"

About 80 people attended the May 21 "Enhancing the Human"
symposium at

UCLA, co-organized by Gregory Stock's pro-germline engineering
Program on

Medicine, Technology and Society (PMTS) and by the Goethe-Institut.

event featured Stock; John Campbell, also of PMTS; German post-humanist

philosopher Peter Sloterdijk; Daniel Kevles, author of History
of Eugenics;

Gregory Benford, a physicist, science fiction writer, and libertarian;

Paul Billings, of Council for Responsible Genetics and GeneSage.

Of the panel members, Stock, Campbell, and Sloterdijk endorsed
the view

that human germline enhancements are both inevitable and desirable,

that the "free market" is the way to make them available,
and that the

resulting inequalities would be acceptable. According to Billings--the

only critic of human germline engineering among the speakers--much
of the

audience seemed to agree.

Billings' talk was titled "Zeus's Revenge: Myths, Moxie
and Human Genetic

Enhancement." "Zeus's Revenge," he explained,
was Pandora. Among the

myths he tried to dispel were the notions that germline manipulations

be achieved without serious problems for the developing child,
and that

the use of such procedures would not drastically enhance divisions

the haves and have-nots. Billing also pointed out that the people

likely to be "enhanced" out of existence--minorities
and disabled--were

not present in the audience.

"Moxie," he said, referred to playing on the emotions
of people with

illnesses, and the special regard in which medicine is held,
to cover

a political ideology--an attempt by a group of experts to control

outcomes of individuals' development.

Sloterdijk's talk, which he delivered both at UCLA and at a
May 19

symposium at Harvard University, was called "The Operable

It is available on-line at <www.goethe.de/uk/bos/enpslot2.htm>.

A brief report on the symposium, and audio video clips, are

at <http://research.mednet.ucla.edu/pmts/Goethe-Institu.htm>.

For more on PMTS, see <http://research.mednet.ucla.edu/pmts/>.


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