The Daily DeX 07/10/2019: The Posthuman Argument

+“Push for Licenses to Genetically Engineer Human Beings” | National Review | Wesley J. Smith 

“Moreover, licensing scientists to tinker with the human genome under industry-created standards won’t solve a damn thing. Hitchcock says we should grant licenses because the technology is both easy to do and inexpensive. Indeed. And that’s precisely why such a scheme won’t work. If someone doesn’t qualify, or if they want to work outside the non-legally binding standards, they will just do it anyway.

No. We need a legally enforceable moratorium with punch for violators. We need to withhold all patent protections for knowledge gained or products made from gene editing engaged in outside legal parameters that are created. We need to ensure that any scientist participating in the work outside the regulations are denied entry into the U.S., denied government funding, or otherwise scorned.

We can’t trust the “scientists” to do the right thing because over the years too many have proven unworthy. For example, during the great embryonic stem cell debate, researchers repeatedly and solemnly promised that all they wanted was to experiment on embryos through the 14th day in a Petri dish. But guess what? Advocacy has commenced to extend that time — just as some of us predicted it would once the technology advanced to the point where they could keep embryos going longer.”

–>If the history of science tells us anything, it’s that once you know you’ve got a genie in a bottle, it’s inevitable you’ll find some justification for letting it out. Engineering the human genome is such an inevitability, and such a major plot point in the human story, that how horrified those who see life in religious terms are about it will be drowned out by the posthuman argument. “Human engineering is absolutely critical to the future of humanity,” the argument will begin. “The problems of the future will be more complex than today’s to such an extent that cultivating the brainpower needed to solve them can no longer be left solely to the genetic crapshoot known as procreation.” Very much within the realm of techno-optimism, proponents will hype the possibility of editing out certain diseases as one of gene engineering’s great benefits. However, the true scope of gene editing won’t be truly understood until posthumanists (quite rightly) advise us that “we need more Einsteins.” Scientific discovery gets more difficult over time, and there are signs of diminishing returns on scientific discovery. Posthumanists will argue that “natural” human brainpower keeps us trapped on the wrong side of what philosopher Nick Bostrom calls a “great filter,” the other side of which (if we had a legion Einsteins) is a global civilization that can innovate beyond technological stagnation or even extinction. The problems of the future will be of such scale and difficulty that most of us will accept the posthuman argument, even if it means Homo sapiens will one day become a second class species.  

Read more:

+“A Third CRISPR Baby May Have Already Been Born in China” | MIT Technology Review  

+“The Fallacy of Techno-Optimism” | Quillette  

+“Here’s Why CRISPR Gene Editing Stocks Rose as Much as 32.4% in June” | The Motley Fool

+“Beyond the Digital Revolution: The Need for Militant Optimism”| Wired  

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Image Source: Elias Sch. from Pixabay

 

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