Thursday, February 2, 2012

Short Essay: Ethics of Enhancement

Should we actively enhance and augment who and what we are? Do we have the right to embrace evolutionary forces? Should we cross into the transhuman and accelerate our development as a race? These questions form the basis of an ethical debate. From a religious standpoint, what transhumanity wants is against many religious doctrines. However, from the religious standpoint would not a loving god want what is best for his or her children? If a popular creation myth states that humanity was created in the image of the divine then it is almost natural for humanity to want to become like the divine. From the evolutionist standpoint the answer is more simple: Adapt, Evolve, Overcome, or go the way of almost every species that has ever evolved.

Evolution is inevitable. Humanity as we know it will evolve into something that is no longer Homo-sapien. A glaring flaw in natural evolution is that evolution does not always select for the betterment of a species. Evolution selects for what is the most successful at breeding. The movie Idiocracy highlights a possible avenue of the natural evolution of humanity. If only people of lower intellect breed, then it stands to reason that eventually the degradation of human intellect will spread generation by generation. By embracing the precepts that the transhumanist movement proposes then humanity could gain direct control of its evolutionary path. Emerging technology could allow for the artificial boosting of human intellect through the uses of selected gene therapies or through nano-technological enhancement.

With the decoding of the human genome there exists a window into what makes biological victims. Scientists broke the genetic code cipher and opened the doorway to the possibility that humanity can dictate its biological evolution. Genetic therapy will become an effective way to combat maladaptive genetic changes. Directed gene therapies could also aid in the eradication of various genetic disorders.

Working as an emergency medical provider opens ones eyes to human suffering. There are a lot of people that are good honest people and they are victims of bad genetics. Is it more ethical to continue to allow these people to suffer from afflictions that are beyond their control? It is the duty of science to operate to the benefit of humanity as a whole. The augmentation of the genetic code to reduce or even eliminate genetic disorders is one goal that should be actively pursued.

Ancient humanity changed the world forever when they shaped stones into cutting tools. At that moment in history humanity was no longer a simple animal but a creature able to shape the environment around them. Through natural progression of artificial environmental alteration the species has build cites, selectively altered food products through cultivation, set foot on the moon, and has seen the vary building blocks of what makes organisms biological. The next step in the process is to alter the very biology of humans to suit the continued survival of the species. Humanity is quickly gaining the knowledge to redefine what it is to be human and this knowledge should be embraced for the betterment of mankind.

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