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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.



Using Light Technique, Scientists Find Dimmer Switch for Memories in Miceby Pam BelluckThe New York TimesAugust 27th, 2014Using a technique in which light is used to switch neurons on and off, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology appear to have unlocked some secrets about how the brain attaches emotions to memories and how those emotions can be adjusted.
Should we Open the Door to Genetically Modified Babies?by Jessica CussinsCNBCAugust 11th, 2014There has been a lot of confusion around this controversial issue, but as we are now facing a historic crossroads, it is important to set the record straight.
Is Moral Bioehancement Even Possible?by Xavier SymonsBioEdgeJune 20th, 2014A new article criticizes the debate on moral bioenhancement as misguided and founded on gratuitous assumptions.
Truly Human Enhancement by Nicholas Agar and Humanity Enhanced by Russell Blackford – Reviewsby Steven RoseThe GuardianJune 19th, 2014When does therapy become enhancement? Designer babies, smart drugs and the ethics of becoming superhuman.
On the New Alphabet of Lifeby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorJune 6th, 2014On metaphors, stories, and synthetic nucleotides: rewriting the code of life.
Stephen Hawking: 'Transcendence Looks at the Implications of Artificial Intelligence - But are we Taking AI Seriously Enough?'by Stephen Hawking, Stuart Russell, Max Tegmark, Frank WilczekThe IndependentMay 1st, 2014Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks, says a group of leading scientists.
Transcendence: See it for its Cultural Relevance, Not its Plot Lineby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 1st, 2014Transcendence won’t win you over with its dialogue or love scenes, but it’s a great springboard for pondering what quickly approaching developments in artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and regenerative medicine may actually mean for society.
Geneticist Cynthia Kenyon is Heading to Googleby Stephanie M. LeeSan Francisco ChronicleApril 20th, 2014Google's mysterious health venture dedicated to extending human life has quietly lured an acclaimed biochemistry and biophysics professor away from UC San Francisco.
How Long Is Immortality?by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesApril 15th, 2014A Russian millionaire created a big splash less than a year ago when he sponsored a conference at the Lincoln Center about mind uploading and immortality, but seems to have fallen off the media radar, at least in the U.S.
We May Already Know How we Will Cure Death—But Should we?by Christopher MimsQuartzMarch 29th, 2014A pair of advocates—they do legitimate research too, but their ardor is so intense, it’s hard to call them scientists—believe that they will, within their lifetimes, make ours the first generation of humans to live forever.
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