When I was a kid, I was given a beautifully illustrated book on science that told a story about atomic energy. In the story, which it happens was also a 1950's movie, compared the knowledge and applications of nuclear physics to an all-powerful genie put in the hands of a plain fisherman (a strange perspective for a story that is often labelled as pro-nuclear propaganda). It concludes with our genie holding out it's hands offering two wells from which we will draw our futures, and challenges us to do so wisely. And 50 years on, with all our best efforts, nuclear power and nuclear weapons are still tools from which we and our states strive to balance benefits and detriments, such as Fukushima's China syndrome and the US vs Iran nuclear non-proliferation talks.
Anyway, for almost 20 years, since the cloning of a sheep, the writing has been on the wall that more pressures than just Darwinian evolution must soon be shaping humans. Now, some of us have let another genie is out of the bottle, and are trying to squeeze it back in. It would be naive to take on faith that nobody has started down this road in that score of years, though they are unlikely to have gotten very far. But the path is becoming easier, and, in a way, to be more travelled and more dangerous as people pursue first-mover advantages. And people want to say that it would be okay to reduce and prevent disease, but not to increase intelligence? My thoughts from a few weeks ago on gain-of-function research still apply here. We need some good ideas to help us deal with the things we have created.
Can we give people a genetic right to self-determination of their offspring?
Can and should we preserve human cultural diversity the same way we strive to preserve diverse ecologies?
How do we preserve our diversity in the posthuman transition?