News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Making 20/10 Vision a Crime


Read Richard’s current thoughts about transhumanism and related fringe topics here.

There are many debates these days about the ethics of human enhancement through technology. Should we draw a line between medical treatment and human enhancement? For bioethicists calling for the outright bans on some research, the potential benefits for treatments and cures of common medical conditions are outweighed by negative consequences. Others argue that it is okay for people to be cured but not okay for people to become superhuman.

The hosts of the “Ethically Speaking” radio show recently discussed transhumanism [defunct link]. They feel there are “yuck” and “affordability” factors to emerging technologies but neither are good arguments against transhumanism. They end the segment with the following scenario [defunct link]:

“Let’s say that you go to the eye doctor. Instead of 20/20 vision, the doctor offers you glasses that make your eyes 20/10—much better than normal. Would you say, “Don’t enhance my vision please. I want no better than normal vision?”

The most common arguments against transhumanism might as well be from the school yard:

  • “You are NOT better than me!”
  • “If I can’t afford it, you can’t buy it either!”
  • “Yuck! You want computers in your body?”

Many transhumanists are as passionate about making advanced technologies available to all humans regardless of cost as they are for using that technology to enhance themselves. Every new technology that changed our way of life has had its critics, including the first airplanes. Critics argued that man was not meant to fly and would be punished for his impudence. Humans have not and will not be punished. Instead, humans will deal with the consequences, both good and bad, of all of our inventions, including those that begin to redefine what it means to be human.

Thank you, doctor. I choose the glasses that will give me 20/10 vision.

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