The Ethics of Taking Control of Human Evolution

As science and technology progress, it’s becoming ever clearer that soon we’ll have the ability to make some drastic changes to the human body, should we want to. And why wouldn’t we? To create disease-immune people, increase our intelligence, to end aging and eventually populate different planets—each of these require altering our makeup.

but altering our makeup comes with significant ethical concerns. Who gets what and why? Superintelligence could prove fatal if placed in the wrong hand; immortality may lead to extreme overpopulation if we have no means to escape earth or control worldwide birth rates.

This delicate topic was discussed by Juan Enriquez during his TED talk. Below are a few quotes:

“…how quickly you react to something depends on the diameter of a nerve. And of course, if you have nerves that are external or prosthetic, say with light or liquid metal, then you can increase that diameter and you could even increase it theoretically to the point where, as long as you could see the muzzle flash, you could step out of the way of a bullet.

“Phonak hearing aids … cross the threshold from where prosthetics are something for somebody who is “disabled” and they become something that somebody who is “normal” might want to actually have, because what this prosthetic does, which is really interesting, is not only does it help you hear, you can focus your hearing, so it can hear the conversation going on over there. You can have superhearing.”

“…once you can insert an entire human genome into a cell, then you begin to ask the question, would you want to enhance any of that genome? Do you want to enhance a human body? How would you want to enhance a human body? Where is it ethical to enhance a human body and where is it not ethical to enhance a human body?

If you’d like more, you can follow Juan Enriquez on Twitter, watch a longer Google talk that includes Steve Guillans, and check out the book they co-authored—Evolving Ourselves.

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