November 29, 2021

Most Americans aren’t ready to evolve into ‘transhumans,’ study says

Pin It ADARIO STRANGE From Mashable

Despite the mainstreaming of science and technology-powered fitness and health initiatives in recent years, a new survey indicates there’s a limit to what we’ll accept in the race to become “superhuman.”

Specifically, the survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, refers to the emerging area of methods (often referred to as transhumanism) designed to enhance our minds and bodies using everything from chip implants, to synthetic blood and even to genetic engineering.

According to the survey, almost 70 percent of Americans have concerns about the unforeseen issues around brain chip implants as a means to improve cognitive ability. And such concerns aren’t the stuff of science fiction. Recent developments in chip implants have led to some patients regaining the use of a paralyzed limb.

Public expresses more worry than enthusiasm about each of these potential human enhancements

Similarly, 63 percent of survey respondents say they’re worried about the development of synthetic blood, despite the fact that such a breakthrough “would greatly improve the emergency treatment of accident victims and wounded soldiers,” according to the FDA.

Those concerns also extend into the realm of genetic manipulation, an area of research that already shows promise in lab animals. Among all the transhuman possibilities, genetic manipulation appears to raise the most eyebrows, with most concerned that unethical actors may use the development to create a kind of “super race.”

“If it starts to sound Hitler-like, [trying to create] a perfect specimen of man and woman,” said one survey respondent based in Atlanta, “then people who are not perfect might be treated badly.”

The biggest concern: unethical actors may use the development to create a kind of “super race.”
But those concerns of unequal treatment appear to transcend genetics, with some of the survey’s respondents voicing concerns that a social divide may occur if things like chip implants and synthetic blood access are only available to the wealthy.

“Who gets the promotion at work? Because you could afford to have an implant so you get it? I mean, what about everybody else?” said one Phoenix-based survey respondent. “It’s not fair to people who wouldn’t be able to afford that.”

But the train has already left the station on these and other scientific and technological developments meant to extend and improve human life. From artificial hip and knee implants to Lasik eye surgery to performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) being used by athletes, humans are already using all means available to perform better and live longer. No amount of moral hand-wringing will curtail the trend because whether it’s robotics, implants, drug therapies or genetic manipulation, if it helps humans to live longer and better, we’re probably going to try it.

“I was always told steroids are wrong,” said another survey respondent based in Phoenix. “But then when my wife was pregnant and we knew the baby was going to be a premature baby … the doctor said they were [going to] do steroids for the baby, so the baby could develop faster. Then all of a sudden steroids were good. So it depends.”

IMAGE: An illustration of an artificial hippocampus designed to restore memory function.IMAGE: BSIP, UIG VIA GETTY IMAGES

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