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About a "Post-Human" Future & Human Biotechnology


Most observers acknowledge that human biotechnologies are likely to create serious challenges for individuals and society. Some people, however, deny or downplay their risks and challenges, and uncritically embrace the dramatic changes they believe human biotechnologies will bring. These enthusiasts tend to oppose public oversight, and to urge the unfettered commercial development of enhancement technologies.

For the past several years, a small but influential network of mainstream scientists, bioethicists, and others has been actively promoting the unfettered development of inheritable genetic modification (changing the genes passed on to future generations) and the expanded use of selection technologies such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Most of them acknowledge that these applications are likely to exacerbate existing inequalities and to create new forms of inequality. They often argue that such developments are inevitable.

"Transhumanists" are a marginal but vocal group of self-described futurists who promote human biotechnologies and other scientific advances as a means to "enhance" physical and cognitive abilities and "transcend" aspects of the human condition such as aging and dying. Their ideas are often seen as a replay of eugenics - the belief that science can and should be used to "breed" people with "superior" qualities.

Some transhumanists want to recast "eugenics" as a positive term, distinguishing their vision from past government-mandated eugenics policies. They are comfortable allowing market forces to shape these technologies and their social impact, arguing that government should have no role in developing, promoting, or regulating human biotechnologies.

Many transhumanists embrace libertarian social and political values, and some have attracted support in more mainstream libertarian circles.



Written evidence for the Genomics and Genome-Editing Inquiry of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee[cites CGS]by Edward Hockings and Lewis CoyneEthics and GeneticsJanuary 20th, 2017UK’s bioscience policy has been framed in terms of commercial value at the expense of substantive public consultation and broader deliberation.
The Promise and Peril of Emerging Reproductive Technologiesby Ekaterina PeshevaHarvard Medical SchoolJanuary 11th, 2017IVG, thus far successful only in mice, allows scientists to create embryos in a lab by reprogramming any type of adult cell to become a sperm or egg cell.
How Gene Editing Could Ruin Human Evolution[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Jim KozubekTimeJanuary 9th, 2017There are no superior genes. Genes have a long and layered history, and they often have three or four unrelated functions, which balance against each other under selection.
Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?by Philip BallThe Guardian January 8th, 2017A perfectly feasible 10-20% improvement in health via PGD, added to the comparable advantage that wealth already brings, could lead to a widening of the health gap between rich and poor, both within a society and between nations.
Rewriting the Code of Lifeby Michael SpecterNew YorkerJanuary 2nd, 2017Combining gene drive and CRISPR/Cas9 technologies, Kevin Esvelt is in an unusual position. There has never been a more powerful biological tool, or one with more potential to both improve the world and endanger it.
2016 Fear vs Hope: Gene Editing— Terrible turning point?by Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleJanuary 1st, 2017As the tools for gene editing rapidly advance, we approach our best chance to prevent the rise of a modern, uncontrolled and dangerously ill-considered techno-eugenics.
Should We Rewrite the Human Genome?by Alex HardingXconomyNovember 28th, 2016Critics worry that a synthetic human genome could be used in unethical ways. Unlike for clinical trials, there is no regulatory body for basic science research.
Obama’s Science Advisors Are Worried About Future CRISPR Terrorismby Daniel OberhausVICE MotherboardNovember 21st, 2016While the form biological threats will take in the future is uncertain, what is certain is that the United States is not at all prepared to deal with them.
DNA-editing breakthrough could fix 'broken genes' in the brain, delay ageing and cure incurable diseasesby Ian JohnstonThe Independent [UK]November 16th, 2016The technique allows DNA changes that have not previously been possible, modifying the genes of non-dividing cells in a living animal.
CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first timeby David CyranoskiNature NewsNovember 15th, 2016A clinical trial in China used cells edited with CRISPR-Cas9 to treat a patient with lung cancer. Spectators anticipate a biomedical duel with US.
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