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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.

Don’t Miss This: The Story of CRISPR Told in a Comicby Kayla TolentinoOctober 6th, 2016Illustrator Andy Warner helps to break down the complexities of the still unraveling CRISPR gene editing story in his recent piece "Bad Blood."
What’s the Longest Humans Can Live? 115 Years, New Study Saysby Carl ZimmerNew York TimesOctober 5th, 2016Despite improvements in modern life and medicine, researchers claim that humans have reached the upper limit of longevity.
With New Program, DARPA To Encourage Safety "Brakes" For Gene Editingby Alex LashXconomyOctober 5th, 2016The US military R&D agency has launched a funding program called "Safe Genes" to find "safety measures that don’t slow us down."
Are Swedish Designer Babies Coming Soon?by Eric NiilerSeekerSeptember 23rd, 2016"What are the oversight and controls to prevent this technology from being misused and go to a stage that, for now, the scientific community has agreed is a no-go?"
Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos[citing CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Rob SteinNPRSeptember 22nd, 2016Using CRISPR gene editing on human embryos is a step toward attempts at producing genetically modified humans. It's not a step to be taken lightly.
Will Genetic Engineering Really Change Everything Forever? [Video Review]by Elliot HosmanSeptember 8th, 2016The hype surrounding CRISPR gene editing and a future of designer babies is on playback with a popular new video. Is its optimism justified? And who decides what’s inevitable?
Remembering Ruth Hubbardby Marcy DarnovskySeptember 8th, 2016Ruth Hubbard — biologist, feminist scholar, social justice advocate, and critic of what she termed “the gene myth” — has died.
Passing My Disability On to My Childrenby Sheila BlackThe New York TimesSeptember 7th, 2016Drawing on hew own experience, the author challenges the logic of creating "designer babies" with screening or modifying technologies.
The Perils of Planned Extinctionsby Claire Hope CummingsProject SyndicateSeptember 6th, 2016Instead of taking time to fully consider the ethical, ecological, and social issues of gene-drive technology, many are aggressively promoting its use in conservation.
Forget Ideology, Liberal Democracy’s Newest Threats Come From Technology and Bioscienceby John NaughtonThe GuardianAugust 28th, 2016Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, reviewed here, argues that "In the 21st century, those who ride the train of progress will acquire divine abilities of creation and destruction, while those left behind will face extinction."
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