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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.



DIY Bio-Engineering: Disrupting Democracyby Colleen CordesBiopolitical Times guest contributorMay 1st, 2015The Do-It-Yourself synthetic biology movement (or, DIY synbio) is not advocating "citizen science," let alone "democratizing science." It's not about science or democracy.
A Tipping Point on Human Germline Modification?by Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMarch 19th, 2015Amidst reports that human embryos have been modified using the gene editing technique CRISPR, several groups of scientists have issued statements proposing moratoria on human germline genome editing.
Public interest group condemns human germline modification efforts, supports research moratorium, calls for US prohibition[Press Statement]March 19th, 2015We're at a watershed moment in determining whether human genetic technologies will be used in the public interest and for the common good, or in ways that are dangerous and socially pernicious.
Les Vertiges Du Transhumanisme[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky and Pete Shanks]by Corine LesnesLe MondeFebruary 12th, 2015"They're selling us technology as if it were a total blessing, but the result could well be that what we take for high-tech marvels are in fact the instrument of power exercised by a few over the rest of us."
Privacy is dead, Harvard professors tell Davos forumAgence France PresseJanuary 22nd, 2015"We are at the dawn of the age of genetic McCarthyism," said one Harvard researcher.
Bad Boy Scientism by Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJanuary 8th, 2015Austen Heinz of Cambrian Genomics has been spouting provocative opinions to get attention. And it seems to be working, from his point of view.
Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankindby Rory Cellan-JonesBBCDecember 2nd, 2014Hawking says the primitive forms of AI developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans.
The Vagina Bio-Hack That Wasn’t: How Two “Startup Bros” Twisted and Took Credit for a Young Woman’s Companyby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 25th, 2014When news broke last week that two male CEOs wanted to make women’s vaginas smell like peaches, there was a well-deserved backlash. Now, it turns out the project they announced wasn’t even theirs, and they got it all wrong.
FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancementby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014The documentary produced and directed by Regan Brashear is receiving a new round of well-deserved positive attention around the world.
Cambrian Genomics CEO: We’re Going to Design Every Human on a Computer and Make Your Poop Smell Like Bananasby Chris O'BrienVenture BeatOctober 29th, 2014Austen Heinz: His vision for the future will either thrill you or leave you fearing for the future of humanity. There’s not really any room in the middle.
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