Why is (even the notion of) altering the human genome/artificial breeding so taboo?

MonacoMonkey's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 2,276

Sometimes I wonder if humans are actually destined towards a path of self destruction. And I don't mean extinction, but rather, towards a cess pool of genetic mish-mash that will drag down those with superior fitness and raise the feeble. (In essence, a reversion to the mean, a world of "just ok" humans)

We spend billions (actually, tens of billions) on agriculture genetics (read about the banana, apple, cauliflower, etc). And even more on animal/livestock enhancements. The biggest chickens, cows that produce the most milk, the most "purebred" racehorse, your little bug-eyed toy chihuahua, etc.

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In a perfect world, we'd construct humans specifically designed for certain tasks, just as we do with animals/plants. It would make (most of) our lives so much better. (Ask yourself, why do you have a perfect 6 pack, gluts, thighs, and calf muscles if you spend 10 hours sitting on a chair?) If we could produce humans with bigger brains, eyes that don't strain (essentially, torsos perched on fixed pedestals) to do your quantitative analysis job, then you could actually use your abs, gluts, and legs to do something more suitable that gives you more utility/happiness (surfing, rock climbing).

Specialization in industry is widely accepted today for maximum efficiency. It's time we celebrate this outward success and look within, to our own bodies.

The "people-oids" in the year 2818 will look back and pity our poor souls. A generation who (for one, couldn't vacation on another planet) couldn't step over our self-imposed stigma of genetic alteration/design to create a society where people are designed as an embryo for specialized roles.

And while most of this post alludes to "design by occupation", the idea could be applied to a myriad of other (and sometimes darker) uses. Maybe to create extremely perfect specimens of physical and mental fitness. Or to create humans devoid of any feeling/emotion to be used purely for the enjoyment of others. The possibilities are endless.

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I mean, I have nothing wrong with "maintaining the status-quo". In fact, I hate (the faux) innovation (that's so widespread today). HOWEVER, if you're going to push massive R&D spending on virtually EVERYTHING, purposely stunting research on creating the perfect human (for the task at hand) is somewhat irrational, don't you guys think? After all, aren't we the "best" species to ever roam the earth?

Comments (7)

Best Response
Mar 28, 2018

because they're scared that they might accidentally create a second MonacoMonkey to shitpost on WSO.

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Apr 6, 2018

Damn, beat me to it, although I posted a similar comment below. Silver banana for you.

Apr 6, 2018

haha, well SB back to you for using more sciencey words than I know.

Mar 28, 2018

In a nut shell, it decouples society from nature. We're not longer bound (or less so) to objective, external factors. The consequences of such actions are entirely unknown and therefore frightening.

Yes, we do genetically modify agriculture, but modifying potatoes, for example, is very different from modifying humans. We don't know what impact it will have, not only on our physiology but also on our psychology. To be clear, we don't even know what impact genetically modifying produce has had on our health. There's all kinds of literature out there on the dangers of GMOs.

Also, genetically modifying certain classes of humans to perform specific functions directly violates our notion of free will and our concept of freedom altogether. We basically commoditize humans. Many find this uncomfortable.

There is undoubtedly a religious component here as well. The Judeo/Christian tradition holds that we are created in the image of our creator by our creator. We are born ignorant but with free will and we will face the consequences of our action in the after life. Kind of hard to be held accountable for your actions if you're not really in control of them (i.e., if you're programmed a certain way). So on religious grounds, there's an issue.

All around, there's a lot to object to.

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Apr 5, 2018

It's taboo because it challenges long held religious norms and takes away personal freedoms of the engineered.

Morality aside there's not much funding for R&D because most people simply don't care. A very small minority of people are looking to create a new class of ubermensch. Most people just want to maximize personal utility during their time on this planet, and when they do think about human genome editing/eugenics (if they think about it at all) it's mostly an exercise in mental masturbation.

Also, as far as I understand it, evolution doesn't care about big brains and six packs. Evolutionary fitness primarily means the ability to pass on genes to the most offspring. The world/universe does not give a flying fuck about your idea of fitness or specialization; it just is.

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Apr 6, 2018
MonacoMonkey:

We spend billions (actually, tens of billions) on agriculture genetics (read about the banana, apple, cauliflower, etc). And even more on animal/livestock enhancements. The biggest chickens, cows that produce the most milk,

These genetics often result in unintended consequences. We don't know what we are creating. We create a bigger fruit, a larger chicken breast to eat and to sell and for profits, but really at what cost?

We are tampering with nature in ways that we are not supposed to and are not only damaging the purity of our soil, oceans, animals, and produce, but we are prohibiting future generations from having these natural foods that were once prevalent in farms and at the local grocery store. Now natural foods are at exorbitant prices and unadulterated whole foods are in such low supply that the prices are through the roof.

This is the 'margarine' of the 21st century. We created something without being able to measure the full consequences ... yet.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Apr 6, 2018
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