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Super Species: When Genetic Enhancement Becomes an Elective Process

September 18, 2013, 6:12 PM

There is a growing realization that those who very legitimately need therapeutic treatments for handicaps or other abnormalities are increasingly going to be the ones who benefit from enhancement technologies. 

Whether it’s advanced prosthetics or other kind of enhancement, whether it's brain-computer interfaces, neuron enhancements, genetic therapies and so forth.  And gradually, this might make them better off, so to speak, than they were.  We’re not at that point totally yet, but things are moving there.  

And then, this could become an elective process, of course.  Particularly wealthy people might voluntarily seek genetic enhancements that they don’t necessarily need per se.  And that’s why there’s some talk, you know, that we could be moving into a world of super species. 

We know that many people experiment, you know, illegally or otherwise with sort of age control kinds of drugs and things like this.  There’s a likelihood, in fact, that there’s going to be a manipulation of these to benefit the few.  And then with the informational systems that we might build around this, you could see a lot of inequality emerging if the super-rich become a super species and then create kind of, you know, walled gardens of community around this.  This is the stuff of perhaps of science fiction or perhaps of movies, but again, there the technologies would make that possible today.  

So the shift from the biotechnologies that we increasingly have at our disposal could or already leading to this shift from therapy to enhancement and I think we have think about that.  On the other hand, what are some of the wonderful things that could happen, such as, of course, massive eradication of disease and so forth? 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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Super Species: When Genetic...

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