There are many challenges and
problems facing humanity today, and in the generations to come,
but of them all, two factors will be paramount: the definition
of what is human (implying the impact of the concept, and the
full quiver of human rights thereof), and - secondly - the right
to be (and to create) the offspring of a freely-generated and
unregulated feral (naturally-occurring) human genome.
In other words, the right to exist
without deliberately manipulated genes.
The time is approaching when it may
be considered barbaric, unpatriotic or even evil to allow the
propagation of certain genetic characteristics which today are
considered normal, natural, and utterly human in nature.
We err if we are led to believe that humans properly analyze and
regulate the ultimate outcomes regarding these two supreme
Financial and political pressure
will have their unfortunate and historically predictable effect,
perhaps for the last time, as cybernetic versions of humanity
will emerge from the inevitable crises and chaos that will
precede the demise of the human being as we know it, and of the
human body, with all its genetically embedded frailties, in
order to be engineered and designed into something more
predictable, durable, pleasing and tractable.
We risk becoming known as the ancestors of something that may
not even resemble what we think of as 'human' today: just as
apes are scarcely considered primates to be cherished, though
they contain up to 99% or greater of the same genetic materials
that human beings call their own, similarly, those "enhanced"
beings who shall come after us will neither regret the loss of,
nor recognize as precious, their primeval and essential
connection to ourselves as representatives of genuine humanity:
we shall be their primitive, coarse and inferior ancestors.
I suspect that the richness of our Pandora's box of genetic
gifts will lose its texture, flexibility and uniqueness as those
"specimens inconvenient" - those feral qualities that we
currently cannot well control - become regulated, and, finally,
extinguished in favor of prevailing fashions, political
climates, social and physical efficiency, and (inevitably)
economics, though it might be politically incorrect to even
mention our extinction as anything but an unfortunate
consequence of the factors causing our ultimately needing to be
discarded: genuine human beings as we know them will be as alien
to our descendents as monkeys are to us.
Only if the definition of "What Is Human" is very carefully
crafted, and the genetic manifestations of our race guarded as
the treasures that they are - that we dare not allow to be lost
to us - can we hope to retain the slightest link to something so
tender and fragile as human flesh in the millennia to come.
It is possible that clinging to such a past would only continue
to proliferate a strain or streak of evil or destructiveness in
our current species, but it might also prove to be the fighting
force that keeps our life-form wanting to stay alive.
It just might be that experiencing
the broad rainbow and bright spectrum of the fullness of our
'primitive' existence supplies that essence that means life is
worth living, that the range of emotions existing within us that
can make us act in ways that are not human, or, shall we say,
are destructive to what is around us to a greater or lesser
extent, are also the roots of what grows and flowers to produce
the best in us: our sense of soul, of love, of conscience, of
self-value, of struggling toward a higher selfhood.
Such would be eliminated, most
likely, because of such stuff revolutions are made, and without
such stuff, I'm afraid, the very will to live could be
It would take a long time for the human being to descend to that
smaller, more efficient, less-feeling, more loyal robot, but the
result would resemble what the social insect kingdoms have
developed. What begins as a 'crowd' (herd) mentality devolves to
a 'hive' mentality.
We have the capacity and the proclivity to
evolve in that direction, for individuality is not valuable
compared to mass effort, insofar as economies are run.
And the bottom line in modern
society is not society itself, but its financial state.
Where stability reigns, things tend to stay comfortingly the
same. If we dare generalize a bit about it, harnessing the wind
and harnessing the human will are equally rewarding to the
economy. Stability, smoothness, harmony, good work ethic,
guaranteed jobs, everybody's lives guaranteed to be productive
and useful to the very end - it sounds like Paradise.
we are really describing is
life in the Hive.
Bees in beehives are all alike, and tremendously efficient,
giving up their lives entirely to the routines for which they
were created, for the queen, for the hive. They work themselves
to death, living a mere 35 days. If money continues to be our
God, our future overlords will punish individuality, for the
sake of efficiency, predictability, long life, and the economy.
At the same time, the feral human
genome, which may be the only reservoir that will be able to
preserve the unpredictable - necessary to meet the stressors of
a universe that is unforgivingly diverse in its challenges to
self-aware existence - may be most unwelcome. Standardization
means "one size fits all" - or else.
But we should want to preserve the excitement of human BE-ing:
if this essence is eliminated, we may also eliminate that
quality of unique self-awareness that so often is overwhelming
within our breast - those galloping emotions, bursts of ideas,
dreams of pleasure and success, and the power of incandescent
If all is known and forced to be
predictable, the result may be a sameness best represented by
the clone-looking figures of 'aliens' we now so easily can
picture: big, staring eyes, big-brained heads, expressionless
mouths and faces, hairlessness, ultra-smooth skins - look-alike
creatures who walk about naked, thin, and disciplined.
Efficiently the same, such
'creatures' represent our imagination's nightmares - but we may
be looking at "what is human" two centuries from now.
Will we be 'human' then?
We'll more likely be aliens, I fear
- perhaps without any flesh at all with which to burden our
economy, capable of 'living' for millennia and traveling to the
stars. For greed, corruption and power drive people to take
dominion over others, to create submissive flocks of sheep.
Sheep go where they are herded, and we love to be herded.
It feels good: we don't have to
think. Who wants to be a black sheep, anyway?
Will a spark of "what is human" remain within the genetically
engineered creatures of the next century?
It's time to address
the very definition of just what is human - what this means
concerning Human Rights, and what our definition will mean as to
the future of the feral human genome and the human race.