Opening Insights: Intelligence, Yes – Wisdom, No
Extinction catches Man by surprise because no one can even imagine
that such a catastrophe can happen to an intelligent species.
The internet is an incredible marvel of technology and ingenuity. It has changed our world. What have we done with it? Many good things, that's for sure, but we also use it to destroy freedom of speech, insight violence, spread dangerous propaganda and generally widen the divides between people who are different.
Our scientific world is mere moments away from the complete and deliverable custom, made-to-order human being. Through editing of genes in embryos the potential realization of complete erasure of disease and inherited maladies is now close at hand.
"What's the problem with that?" You might say.
Sure, at the onset, the editing away of disease and debilitating gene-carried ailments will be a marvelous boon to humanity, but we won't stop at stopping disease and ailments.
However, let us assert that humanity, as it currently exists, is far too immature, petty, narcissistic and misguided to have the power to create custom people. That power will be abused.
"I want my gender-nonspecific child to be a basketball player, because I love basketball!"
"I want my gender-nonspecific child to be a scientist, because I wanted to be famous, but never got the chance."
"I want my gender-nonspecific child to be a dancer, just like me!"
Imagine, a whole generation edited to be without a gender so that, at a time of their choosing, they may decide if male or female is the gender they identify with. Can anyone else see a potential for problems to come out of this?
Informational Insights: We Can, but Should We?
The following article was published by CNN, "the world leader in online news and information[.]" It was written by Jack Guy, a London based freelance journalist for CNN.
(CNN) Genetically-modified babies are "highly desirable" to help protect people from disease and could be created ethically within two years, according to a new scientific paper.
Gene editing now presents such low risks that it could be used in human embryos, according to an analysis by Kevin Smith, a bioethicist at Abertay University in Scotland, published last week in the journal Bioethics.
Advocates like Smith want to change the genetic makeup of embryos to prevent the transmission of gene-related diseases.
However, the practice is hugely controversial due to fears that it could be used to create "designer babies" whose genes have been edited for non-therapeutic purposes.
In November 2018 Chinese scientist He Jiankui sparked outrage after announcing he had created the first genetically-modified babies in the world from embryos altered to make them resistant to HIV.
But Smith says their creation is ethically justifiable and would offer hope to parents at risk of transmitting serious genetic disease to their offspring, according to a statement.
From a "utilitarian standpoint" genetic modification is the "only conceivable way" to deal with multiple disease-associated genes in an embryo, according to Smith.
Genetic modification would allow doctors to protect future people against cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia, as well as other common illnesses, said Smith.
"If several common disorders could be avoided or delayed by genetically modifying humans, the average disease-free lifespan could be substantially extended," he said in a press statement.
Smith recommends delaying genetic modification programs because right now "society is largely opposed to genetically modifying humans."
Still, he believes an ethical attempt to produce genetically-modified babies could be less than two years away.
His work has been criticized by other experts in the field, who point out that the risks of gene editing are still being studied.
"I do not believe that there are adequate experiments that will 'prove' that this technology is safe," Joyce Harper of the University College London (UCL) Institute for Women's Health told the Science Media Centre (SMC) in London. "So we need to tread carefully."
Harper underlines that genome editing has huge potential, but wants "public debate and legislation to ensure we have carefully thought this through."
Sarah Norcross, director of the Progress Educational Trust (PET), an organization that works to improve public understanding of genetics, called Smith's analysis "flawed."
Norcross points out that the public might not change its mind about genetically-modified babies, and more work needs to be done in understanding the risks of the technology.
"Lessons should be learned from the mistakes that were made last year, by the Chinese scientist who was responsible for the world's first genome-edited babies," Norcross told the SMC.
"If this technology is to be put to similar use in future, then far higher scientific and ethical standards need to be met."
Authorities in China have since said that the experiments which led to the birth of the babies broke the country's laws, and the scientists involved were suspended.
In October, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard published details of a new gene-editing technology that could potentially correct up to 89% of genetic defects, including those that cause diseases like sickle cell anemia.
This article originally appeared in CNN: 'Designer babies' could be just two years away, expert claims
Possibilities for Consideration: Editing Us Away
Okay, let's just concentrate on the good stuff, like editing away the bad stuff. We won't talk about the potential for misuse of gene-editing technology. We won't ask the question, "Now that we know how to do this, should we?"
It's conceivable that we'll simply edit ourselves right out of existence, but then again, if we're stupid enough to that, then we deserve it. If you think the potential for misuse of technology is staring us right in the face and you want to do something about it, fill out the SocraticQ toward the bottom of this page. You will find you are not alone.
Add Your Insight
Take a moment and examine…
- As you reviewed the material above, what stood out to you?
- What is the potential impact, economically and/or socially?
- What action is needed to stop or support this idea?
- You may want to consider whether you:
- want to be aware of,
- should become supportive of,
- would want to be active in this topic?
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.
LEONARDO DA VINCI