Friday, April 18, 2014

Transhuman Improvement 4/15/14

The concept of lengthening the human life substantially has been in the minds of men for thousands of years. Stories about so called Fountains of Youth date back as early as the 5th century BC. Modern technology could end up being this fountain of youth that we are looking for, however there is a large possibility of abuse that exists for technology that can lengthen or improve peoples lives and these technologies must be shared equally between all people.
Unlike the Fountain of Youth, Transhumanism is more than a folk tale or story it is a series of ideas on the state humans could obtain with technology if it were to be properly focused. They believe we should use our ability to screen for harmful genetic diseases in a form of altruistic eugenics to eliminate inheritable genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell that lead to death and health problems for all those affected. By screening for these diseases at conception parents can choose to abort fetuses that would otherwise live sickly lives and likely die at a young age. They also hope to be able to take advantage of ever shrinking technology to create artificial limbs and organs that could replace old or damaged ones that are no longer usable to their full capacity. By replacing limbs and organs dying of old age will become far less common as it will allow people to extend their ability to work and enjoy life even more than they do now. Combined these uses of technology could eliminate many causes of early and premature deaths that could easily cause significant increases in life expectancy.
By the nature of invention in the beginning many of these innovations will only be available to those with money. While genetic screening is available to those with healthcare, groups without it still do not have access to a quality of care that allows  them to take full advantage of modern prenatal care. This has allowed genetic diseases such as sickle cell which exists mostly among the black community to continue to thrive and cause death among the poor. Artificial limbs and organs that replace those that were removed by choice and not of necessity will be some of the most expensive and powerful tools to separate the rich from the poor. Currently these devices perform worse than their natural counterparts, but as technology progresses it is only logical that we will eventually be able to build body parts that are superior to their natural counterparts. This could cause a larger gap between the rich and the poor by putting physical differences as yet another barrier making it harder to change classes in our society. Unless measures are made before these technologies become recreational to prevent purposeful replacement of body parts and genetic testing is made free for all, then a gap of disease, lifespan and physical ability will be made between the rich and poor.
Combined these ideas have the ability to greatly improve the human condition for all peoples. However it must be carefully watched and maybe even regulated so that it is not abused to keep the current leaders in power or to oppress the poor.

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