February 1, 2003

February 2003


Destination: Cyborg
Moving from flesh to silicon, humanity is transforming itself. Here's why you should welcome our cybernetic future

TransExodus: The Enduring Secular Reformation, Pluralist Transhumanism, and Posthuman Pilgrims
Humanity’s spiritual and existential journey is about to take a radical turn, one that will be reminiscent of the religious schisms of the Protestant Reformation and the New World missions of the pilgrims

Updated Quotes
New quotes from Einstein, Herbert, Hobbes, Kurzweil, Lewontin, Marx, Medawar, Mencken, Meshuggah, Mirandola, Nietzsche, Pinker, Russell, & Teilhard de Chardin.

I've been invited to speak at Transvision USA 2003 this June at Yale University. My proposal was accepted by the WTA last week. I'll be speaking about reproductive rights, designer babies, and the consent of the unborn. Here are the details from my proposal:

State enforced limitations of human reproductive options in the 21st century will need to be considered neugenic and dysgenic. Assisted reproductive technologies and the advent of ‘designer babies’ are a legitimate reproductive option that will require monitoring and regulation. Parents have the consent of the unborn to commit their genome to these changes, and an ethical imperative to do so is forthcoming.

· To illustrate that in consideration of pending genomic technologies, state enforced limitations of reproductive options in the 21st century should be classified as neugenic and possibly even dysgenic policies
· To show that the advent of ‘designer babies’ is a legitimate reproductive option, but like any powerful technology, one that will require regulation and monitoring
· To demonstrate that parents do in fact have the consent of the unborn to alter their genome, and that an ethical imperative to do so is forthcoming owing to the normative and evolutionary demands of human socialization and technocultural adaptations


Reproductive Rights
Any discussion of human reproductive rights must critically explain how the state justifies the abrogation of specific procreative choices. Fewer things are more coercive and unnecessary than state intervention in the reproductive practices of its citizens, especially in consideration of the presumption that parents tend to have the best interests of their children in mind. State control of human reproduction is a central tenet in the conventional definition of eugenics; the purpose of the state’s intervention in this context is irrelevant. Thus, as the state exerts a greater interventionist role in limiting reproductive options, the greater its commitment to eugenics, or in the case of limiting or denying germinal choice technologies, a commitment to autocratic neugenics (i.e. human genome stasism), or even dysgenics if detrimental traits are allowed to disseminate in the human gene pool.

Designer Babies
The ‘designer baby’ is a legitimate reproductive option. It represents the next revolutionary step in human procreation, and characterizes another victory over the blind forces of nature. Prospective parents will no longer have to rely on the genetic roll of the dice when it comes to determining the makeup of their offspring. This issue speaks to the heart of reproductive rights as it is an empowering technology, allowing for greater individual control and autonomy over personal reproductive processes. but like any new technology, it will be subject to abuse. And like any other powerful technology, it will need to be regulated and monitored. Child abuse laws are already in effect, and they will need to be applied to those cases in which the guidelines for how parents can or cannot genetically alter their offspring are disregarded or abused.

Consent of the Unborn
Not only do parents have the consent of the unborn to optimize their physical and cognitive characteristics, it will eventually come to pass that not doing so will be considered negligent and a violation of the rights of the unborn. Once parents decide to have a child, obligatory considerations come into play where parents are in fact ethically bound to optimize the health of the prospective child.

Boom Time for Longevity
Facing their mortality, Baby Boomers are set to launch an assault on aging

The Future of Cognitive Psychology
In many respects, what we know as psychology is actually an attempt to understand human behaviour without actually being able to read the 'software' that creates the behaviour (imagine trying to understand how a complex killer app works without a hint of how the s/w is coded). In essence, what psychologists are doing with their experiments, observations, and theories, is trying to figure out what the software scripts are actually saying without being able to read it.

Assuming this is the case, it would appear that psychology in the conventional (historic?) sense may not have a bright future, replaced instead by a cognitive science that is more scientifically/biologically rooted, and where cognitive scientists can read the code of the mind and look at the behavioural source code much like geneticists are starting to do in the domain of life.

That being the case, psychologists will still be required to understand the emergent and complex effects of this software as it is executed, and importantly to us, how changes may positively or detrimentally affect the individual. In other words, they'll be more like software programmers and analysts than psychologists.