Working Title Films have brought out The Theory of Everything, which is a sort of biographical love story about Stephen Hawking and his relationship with his first wife, Jane. The British film industry have produced two features this year that are both quintessentially English, so much so that one can almost smell tea and crumpets from the screen, the other movie that fits this description is the wartime film about Alan Turing. The Theory of Everything is not so much about the world famous physicist, but about his years with the first love of his life and giving a glimpse into workings of the scientist who has been called one of the smartest men in the world.
In this electronic day and age where newspapers and magazines are becoming passée I am still reading Readers Digest. I guess all those years of reading them at my Gran’s house and in waiting rooms around the globe has made the old RD a sort of comfy blanket. Comfortable as an old shoe and as reliable as Old Faithful.
It was in this month’s Readers Digest that I read about designer babies. I saw the article in the September issue (I know, it’s August. But that is the fun of monthly magazines, you always get them early) and it was discussing the advantages of using genetic screening to ‘design’ your foetus.
Quite frankly, I was horrified. Have we come this far? I know that what they are talking about is still illegal. But in a world where celebrities and wanna be celebrities have designer dogs, teeth, tits and whatever else you can think of, do we really want babies by design?
The very idea makes me think of Adolph Hitler‘s maniacal quest for breeding the perfect Aryan race. I know that the folks who are suggesting that genetics can help you ‘build’ the perfect child aren’t in Adolph’s class. But dammit, it’s scary!
I am not knowledgeable enough to argue against the idea. My understanding of science and biology doesn’t go much past the high school curriculum level. A high school level that was attained back in the 70’s yet. So if you’re looking for an intelligent debate on the cons of the issue, I suggest you read something by Stephen Hawking, that is, if he even knows about it yet.
No my argument against the genetic building of babies is entirely from the parental point of view. And come to think of it, from the child’s as well. Amazingly I can still remember most, if not all, of my childhood. I know it was a long time ago, but I have been blessed (or cursed) with an excellent memory.
Can you imagine getting into an argument with your ‘specially’ crafted offspring and having them shout back at you, full of indignity, “I didn’t ask to be made this way!”
Or how about…
“Well you designed me! If I’m doing something wrong, it must be your fault!”
My mind is reeling from the very idea of all those issues that genetic enhancing will bring up. I remember yelling at my parents, years ago, the age old complaint from children across the world, “I didn’t ask to be born, you know!” Or the distant cousin of that statement, “I didn’t ask for you to be my parents!”
But disregarding the above scenario altogether, just how is it that scientist’s or gene enhancer’s think that we know what the perfect mix of genes are?
We could get it completely and utterly wrong. Think about it. People right now are and have been raising children who believe that they are special. That they are entitled to everything because of that ‘specialness.’ And just look how the youth of today are turning out. Thankfully, so far at any rate, there are more ‘adjusted’ kids out there who realize that no matter how ‘special’ you are, you still have to work for a living.
But this gene enhancement or splicing or mojo, whatever you want to call it, is a recipe for disaster. What if experts tell us that we need children who can empathize with everyone and can also be sympathetic to their fellow man. The same child can have his aggression gene altered to keep his or her temper levels down. They can be ‘enhanced’ to allow them to be faithful, loyal, trusting, et al.
I am sure that the child who has those genes introduced into its body would grow up to be a gentle, caring, sharing mild mannered wuss. The world could be populated (for a time, at least until the enhancers realize what a boob they’ve made of humanity) literally by the meek. I think the end of mankind might be escalated a bit by a world full of those folks.
I am not saying that the entire idea is bad. I’m sure that it could be used to help stop deformities, disease, and other horrible things that we all pray our babies will not be born with. I am saying that we should be very careful in this, so far, illegal area of science and birth.
Let’s take a minute to think about what we are doing here. Do you really want to be the new Adolph Hitler or worse?
- Genetically engineering babies a “moral obligation” | Jill Stanek (amhec.wordpress.com)
- Genetic Selection Involves Killing (str.typepad.com)
- Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics (engineeringevil.com)
- Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor (todayonline.com)
- Embryo screening ‘moral obligation’ (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- National News: Embryo screening ‘moral obligation’ (coventrytelegraph.net)
- UK News: Embryo screening ‘moral obligation’ (walesonline.co.uk)
- UK & World News: Embryo screening ‘moral obligation’ (journallive.co.uk)
- Bioethics (keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com)
- Embryo screening ‘moral obligation’ (express.co.uk)
I’ve just finished watching a very funny video on YouTube from Rhett and Link (very funny guys). My daughter had just watched it and wanted to show me part of it.
The title of the video was Live Forever Online. The bit that she showed me was about a website called LifeNaut.com. The whole premise of this website is to allow people to create “mind-files” that can be loaded into an avatar (online) or into an animatronic head that you can interact with.
The reason for all this? The ability to leave a “computerized” version of you, again in the form of an online avatar. This service is free. Presumably if you want the data loaded into an animatronic head it costs money. But which ever version you choose will give you the same result.
“Live Forever – Upload your Mind to LifeNaut.com” this is the message that greets you when you google the site. When you click the link provided on the site you will see the site itself with, “Make a Profile Build an Avatar Connect with Friends” running along the bottom of the Register/Sign In page.
But before you register and sign in look at the bottom of the screen. On the lower right hand of the screen you will see the word bina48. If you click on this it will give you an in depth tutorial what a bina48 is.
In a nutshell, it is an animatronic head filled with a real person’s memories and thought processes. The aim is to recreate another you.
The idea behind all this “mad” scientist scenario is this: You can leave a ‘copy’ of yourself via avatar or ‘head’ that your loved ones can talk to after you die.
Okay, so far so creepy. But if you really watch the tutorial and read their statements, you will find that the ultimate goal of Lifenaut is to replicate a person (that’s spelt dead loved one) via a robot. A robot that thinks like you, reasons like you, talks like you, looks like you and is concious like you.
An android version of a real person. If you’ve ever seen any of the Alien films you’ll know what I mean. So you too can be the model for an evil Ash (Alien) or the human ‘wanna be’ David (Prometheus).
The long term goal of LifeNaut is to marry up a computer’s Artificial Intelligence – AI and a robot with your conciousness (or to be more accurate the above mentioned thought processes, memories, etc). Once this has been done, not only will there be an “immortal” you, but they are also hoping the this blend of machine and memory will develop it’s own conciousness. It will become aware.
Okay everybody, repeat after me, “‘TERMINATOR.”
All joking aside, the idea does have some merit. As my daughter just pointed out, “If it works, it may help us to understand more about the human condition or what actually makes a soul.” Smart girl my daughter.
Completely moving away from the Terminator style technology, I can’t decide whether the other portion of the program is a good thing or just creepy and weird. Yeah it would be kind of neat knowing that the loved ones you leave behind can chat “with you” after you’ve died.
It is also kind of neat to think that any future grandchildren or great-great grandchildren can see and hear how you talked. Although all the examples I watched on YouTube sounded like interesting variations of Stephen Hawking.
I also don’t think I will be able to partake in the free offer. I registered and signed up. I then took a picture to build my profile. I also answered 52 of 486 questions to give my avatar “my” personality. Then…nothing.
I don’t know what I did wrong, but my avatar won’t load. Period. Maybe I’m too ugly? Or maybe the picture wasn’t good enough. But whatever the reason, I couldn’t check it out today.
I may have to wait for my android to do it.
- Check Out ‘Trakur” Argentine’s New Agricultural Robot (VIDEO) (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- Russian Researchers want to Replace Your Physical Body with a Holographic Avatar (sott.net)
- Teen creates talking, moving robotic head (news.com.au)
- Now You Can Build Your Own Animatronic 3D-Printed Hand (mashable.com)
- The Robotic Uprising Begins At Google I/O (webpronews.com)
- Animatronic dinosaurs get used to their new habitat (photoblog.msnbc.msn.com)
- Robot Never Loses Rock-Paper-Scissors (abcnews.go.com)
- Oz school student creates talking robotic head (news.bioscholar.com)