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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.

Scientists Find Gene Editing with CRISPR Hard to Resist[quotes Marcy Darnovsky and Pete Shanks]by Cameron ScottHealthlineSeptember 29th, 2015CRISPR, a new technique for editing DNA, is so cheap and easy to use, we may be genetically engineering human embryos before we have time to decide if we should.
GM embryos 'essential', says reportby James GallagherBBCSeptember 10th, 2015A stem cell consortium issues a statement advocating for germline gene editing of human embryos, and that GM babies may be "morally acceptable" under some circumstances in the future.
Why thereís an urgent need for a moratorium on gene editingby Vivek WadhwaWashington PostSeptember 8th, 2015Changing human DNA creates a frightening ethical grey zone; no one is prepared for an era when editing DNA is as easy as editing a Microsoft Word document.
Biotech Imagination: Whose Future is this?by Jessica CussinsSeptember 8th, 2015A feature in PLOS Biology highlights insider predictions about the next ten years in genetics and genomics with unanimous optimism. But whose future is this?
Calls for IVF laws to be changed to take advantage of gene editing technique by Steve ConnorThe IndependentSeptember 2nd, 2015A statement by medical research funders in the UK suggests that benefits of modifying the human germ-line could outweigh the ethical objections.
Alphabet/Google Isnít Evil but Genetically Modifying Mosquitos Might Beby Mic WrightThe Next WebAugust 25th, 2015Recent biotech hype about using gene drive to reduce global malaria is best understood as a new chapter in humanity's historically poor record of forcibly changing ecosystems.
Ex Machina: Of Screens and Peopleby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 3rd, 2015The image on the poster isnít what it seems. Ava, with her lights and transparent body, looks like the AI of the future, but she can also be read as an image of the present: a life threaded with information technology.
Sympathetic Sci-Fiby Joshua RothmanNew YorkerJuly 14th, 2015The new sci-fi series "Sense8" fantasizes about human "enhancement" via broadening empathy and social connection.
Talking About the Germlineby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJuly 8th, 2015The debate about heritable human genetic modification continues, with opinions ranging from enthusiasm to dismay, and strong arguments for political as well as scientific involvement.
Genetically Modified Humans? Seven Reasons to Say ďNoĒby Center for Genetics and SocietyCrossing the threshold into inheritable human genetic alterations has long been considered dangerously unacceptable for both safety and social reasons.
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