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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.



Hacking life: Scientists ‘recode’ DNA in step toward lab-made organismsby Sharon BegleySTATAugust 18th, 2016Recoded organisms could have talents evolution hasn’t yet created. For instance, they could make proteins that do not exist in nature, including drugs.
Diversity, disability and eugenics: An interview with Rob Sparrowby Xavier SymonsBioEdgeAugust 11th, 2016Philosophers and the medical profession have been way too swift to make judgments about other people’s quality of life. We're not as far from the bad old eugenics as many think.
To Err is Biotechnological: Reflections on Pew’s Human Enhancement Surveyby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 9th, 2016Biotechnologies aimed at human enhancement come with a guaranteed set of deficits, inadequacies, inconveniences, and risks.
What Ever Happened to Cloning?[cites CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Kimberly LeonardUS News & World ReportAugust 4th, 2016Twenty years since Dolly, the field of cloning remains highly inefficient for animals and too unethical to attempt with humans.
Peter Thiel Is Very, Very Interested in Young People's Bloodby Jeff BercoviciInc.August 1st, 2016The controversial venture capitalist believes transfusions may hold the key to his dream of living forever.
Puffing Cryonics in New Scientist?by Pete ShanksJuly 13th, 2016New Scientist is a popular science magazine that sometimes prioritizes popularity over science.
25 Scientists Just Made A $1 Billion Pitch To Build A Human Genome From Scratchby Nidhi SubbaramanBuzzFeedJune 2nd, 2016Drew Endy and Laurie Zoloth argue the project fails to ask a basic question: “Is developing capacities to synthesize human genomes a good idea?”
Scientists Announce HGP-Write, Project to Synthesize the Human Genomeby Andrew PollackThe New York TimesJune 2nd, 2016Synthesizing a human genome "immediately raise[s] numerous ethical and philosophical red flags," NIH director Francis Collins said.
Scientists Say They Hope To Create A Human Genome In The Labciting CGS' Marcy Darnovskyby Rob SteinNPRJune 2nd, 2016"The worry is that we're going to be synthesizing entire optimized human genomes...to produce synthetic human beings that they see as improved models," said Marcy Darnovsky.
Public Interest Organization Comment on Synthetic Human Genome Project[Press statement]June 2nd, 2016Twenty-five scientists and corporate figures call for a ten-year project to construct a synthetic human genome from scratch.
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