1. Report on "Enhancing the Human"
About 80 people attended the May 21 "Enhancing the Human"
UCLA, co-organized by Gregory Stock's pro-germline engineering
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
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
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
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,
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
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,
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
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
For more on PMTS, see <http://research.mednet.ucla.edu/pmts/>.