Will we let companies make synthetic people in test tubes?
A generation ago we would have been in the streets over synthetic embryos. Now, it’s just news. Some people find it odd, while others don’t care or even applaud it. The fact that we may see companies try to create genetically modified or artificially formed people in our lifetime should be alarming.
Perhaps we are numbed to the threat because of the prevalence of abortion and sex-change surgeries. The sanctity of human life and the human body have become ideals fraught with political disagreements over personal autonomy.
Maybe people aren’t reacting because blockbuster science fiction movies over the last 30 years have created a pseudo-morality around the idea of synthetic people.
Films often feature human clones as heroes who must overcome prejudice against their origins, or robots that are struggling to get their rights as living beings recognized, or humans uploading their consciousness into new bodies.
These themes teach people that it is moral to treat clones, artificial intelligence, and synthetic people as actual human beings. In many movies, humans are the villains for trying to repress these new life forms. Think Blade Runner, Cloud Atlas, and so on.
But getting brainwashed by Hollywood and numbed by political debates shouldn’t leave us sleepwalking into a world of genetically-altered and synthetic people.
Americans are dying from terrible food, sitting around, stress, and loneliness and getting “cured” with increasingly expensive and technologically advanced drugs, devices, gene therapies, and biologics.
While some researchers may have good intentions, investors want living organisms, cell lines, embryos, genetic traits, and biotech capabilities they can patent, own, and sell. What will it mean to the very nature of humanity if we give them a free hand with the human genome?