Thursday, May 25, 2006

Labels

We define ourselves with labels. Some define themselves by their work, men especially. I am an accountant, lawyer, scientist, etc. Some define themselves by other roles: mother, father, sister, brother, prince, princess, count, baron, etc. Sometimes you see a progression of labels - boyfriend/girlfriend, lover, wife/husband, significant other, ex-wife/ex-husband. Or, another example is newborn, infant, child, teenager, young adult, adult, senior, deceased. Even names are labels. None of them really matter. The only labels that we can't escape from are man/woman and human being. The former is becoming more and more irrelevant in a genderless society, so it just may come down to how we define what a "human being" really is at the level of an individual and at the species level? And maybe that doesn't even matter. If we start geneering (genetic engineering) the species, then the three races we have now will pale in comparison. And sooner or later, we will start engineering the race. At first, we'll screen out the deleterious genes through abortion and eventually, we'll correct them at the one cell or totipotent stage of the fertilized egg. Then we'll eliminate degenerative diseases. Then we'll start engineering people for specific roles such as astronaut or deepsea diver. This doesn't even begin to touch upon uplifting other species such as dolphin or chimpanzee to full sentience (which we could possibly do now with chimps). What would a fully sentient chimp do to religious belief? I suppose that if you can treat everything as sacred and with equal respect, from a pebble, to a plant, to any animal, to any human being, then you've even gone past labels to a whole new experience entirely.
Comments:
The future never seems to turn out quite like it's imagined in the past.
 
All I could do is posit a logical extrapolation of what medical science and molecular biology would LIKE to do. After all, the savings to society if everyone had the apolipoproteinE gene allele from the Italian family that prevents arteriosclerosis would be enormous. The protein has been turned into a drug that effectively rotoroots one's arterties, but the effect is temporary. Of course, this doesn't mean that these guesses will turn out right, but they stand a good chance since they will be preventative in nature.
 
What would it mean, from that point of view, if apes and monkeys were degenerated humans, who would somehow need to be 'raised' up to the human condition?
 
Gattica perhaps?
 
Never really saw that movie, but from what I gather that movie was really about genetic discrimination. I'm not talking about genetic discrimination, but about eliminating genetic diseases and possibly a few other diseases that have genetic components and improving the quality of life of the human species. Medical science doesn't care what one looks like (unless you are a plastic surgeon and likely, plastic surgeons for the most part are the whores of the medical establishment...and Godsends of the burn wards).

Sigh, I challenged Jim Watson about genetic diseases in 1990 or so at a conference. To me, the Human Genome Project was a hugh waste of money. It was against everything I'd been taught as a scientist. Guess I was already extinct (an anachronism) and didn't know it. Only 5% of diseases are genetic, but we might as well get rid of them by either genetic screening (aborting fetuses) or repairing the defects in the embryo. If the defects make some people gifted in some way then I guess we'll find out as a race when we lose that specialness. :-)Although most people don't praise good health enough until they lose it. Kind of like breath, few praise it, but to be without it. :-)
 
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