The world has one long-term goal, perfection. People stride towards it every day in ways such as plastic surgery and make-up and it seems like everyone wants to get in shape. But what is good enough? When do people get to the point where they believe, physically and mentally, they are perfect? With continuing advances in science and technology, people are beginning to realize that the physical and mental condition of humans now might change in the future. The technology has already been discovered to change the way we think, act, and look; it’s ready to be used, but it’s not as wonderful as it sounds. Humans should not be robots; we do not need to advance like your average computer. We are and independent species and should not be altered by technological means.
When people think of perfection, people think of beauty or external perfection first. As it is today, people already do what they can to look perfect; the number one way is plastic surgery. Plastic surgery is becoming more normal than going to the dentist; millions of people are having plastic surgery performed every year. In fact, in 2006 alone, 16,248, 526 known people in the US had plastic surgery (American Society of Plastic Surgeons). That statistic doesn’t even include the people who had plastic surgery done cheap, underground or the people who had it done in other countries. That is 20% more people who had plastic surgery than in the year 2000. Every year, more and more people strive to look “pretty,” but what’s so bad about a unique world? If everyone had plastic surgery to fix their flaws and had perfect shape, skin, and features, they would be the same, that would make them just an average person. If everyone had the same changes made to themselves, beauty would lose its definition; even the most flawless person would be normal. No conflict is truly ended by beauty. Crazy alternatives have come out already for people worried about appearance. For example, many women routinely put on eye make-up, such as eyeliner, every morning. Surgeons now have a procedure that they call “Permanent Eyelash Enhancement.” They inject permanent color pigments between eyelashes so it looks like the lashes are thicker, giving the same appeal as eyeliner would. People that undergo this procedure would never have to put on eyeliner in the morning again. The extent people go to be beautiful already is appalling, and in the future it will only increase as newfound technology increases as well.
Even if everyone were truly beautiful, that wouldn’t be enough to stop conflict in the world. To make a perfect person, more than just a pretty face is needed; how about a pretty mind? People will have sharper senses, for example, or better memories and greater intelligence, but we already have this technology. People in the present already have the power to alter cognition, including memory, mood, appetite, libido, and attention through the use of psychoactive drugs. They have the power to replace body parts with natural organs, mechanical organs, or tissues derived from stem cells. Soon we will be able to wire ourselves using computer chips implanted into the body and brain. Scientists, by experimenting on mice, have already found a way to insert “smart genes.” “This points to the possibility that enhancement of learning and memory, even IQ is feasible through genetic means, through genetic engineering,” said Joe Z. Tsien, the assistant director of molecular biology at Princeton University who led the research team (Barnard). Scientists are already able to improve intelligence in animals, and that was back in 1999, think how much technology has increased since then. A computer chip implanted into the brain; now doesn’t that sound lovely? Picture this- it’s Saturday night and you want to go out with your friends, but your parents say no. You beg and beg them to change their minds, but they are persistent. Eventually they tire of your pleading and walk to their household computer to “modify” what you want to do that night. Does that sound fair? If they can control how we think, they can also control our actions; we are no longer people, but robots. Technology has already radically enhanced human capacities, so we are stronger, faster, and more agile than any other living system; but the capacities were provided by external means: rockets, cars, cell-phones, and computers. However, these technologies are slowly getting smarter, and the human-machine interface is getting more seamless. We are now, just barely, at the start of the upcoming stage, where technology gets directly incorporated, whether by implanted chips, neural interfaces, or by remote sensing capabilities. Even cell phones will be a thing of the past, we will communicate brain to brain, all the technology stored right inside our head. “We move from the natural organism, Humanity 1.0, to the natural/artificial hybrid, Humanity 2.0” (Bostrom and Roache)
Some people are already living beyond 120 years old, and longetivity records keep being broken. Disease is largely a thing of the past. You no longer see children with the sicknesses of decades ago, such as polio or the measles. Designer babies, babies genetically altered, are commonplace, and some babies are even being born with engineered genetic traits that they will pass to their own children. Parents, with enough money, can already choose the gender of their baby; so why not be able to choose hair, eye, and skin color? In 2000, Adam, the first boy cloned, was more or less designed. Adam has actually been proven to posses the genes he was designed with. Those were not merely taken, or passed down from another person’s, like his parents, but selected to give Adam specific traits. “The combination of genetic knowledge with reproductive technology already allows parents to select some of the genes they pass on to their children. Someday it may even enable the creation of human genes, and traits that have never existed. It is possible that our children’s children’s children will be engineered to live longer and be healthier, stronger and more intelligent than any generation before them.” (Krensen) Who are we to decide our children’s purpose? Shouldn’t we just accept kids the way they are supposed to be, with their own traits naturally given to them? What they should look and act like? Every child hates being controlled by their parents the way things are presently, but this goes far beyond that. We wouldn’t even be able to comprehend the fact that were being be controlled, the power to think of something simple like that would be beyond our reach. So with that in mind, are we really even advancing?
The study of genetics isn’t all that bad, and the goals are not always that radical. Some scientists are working to prevent and ultimately end diseases. In the future, children could be designed to resist cancer, heart disease, mental illnesses, AIDS, and other human diseases.
There are a lot of scientist who focus mainly on a perfect race, using the technology and research they have learned for less important things such as children designed for superhuman strength, sunny disposition, flawless beauty or photographic memory. People are on the brink of the next plateau of technology and they are going about it in the wrong way. Many researchers believe it will be years before doctors can slip genes into our DNA easily and flawlessly. They do not have everything figured out yet but they are getting very, very close. Technology should advance, yes, and humans should advance, yes; but humans should not advance technologically. Humans should advance naturally, and adapt to new coming environments the way they’re meant to. No matter what we do, nothing will ever be perfect enough; we are only human after all, or will that change too?
Barnard, Jeff. “Mice Who Go Beyond Mazes.” The Post-Standard 2 Sept. 1999, Nation ed.: A8.
Bostrom, Nick, and Rebecca Roache. “Human Enhancement.” Human Enhancement. 2007. 24 Apr. 2007 <http://www.nickbostrom.com>.
Crensen, Matt. “Adam and ‘Eve’: Beyond Cloning.” Carroll County Times 19 Jan. 2003: B4.
Lawton, Graham. “The Incredibles.” New Scientist 13 May 2005: 32-38.
“Permanent Eyelash Enhancement.” Scott co.-Wilton & Durant Area unknown ed.: 16
American Society Of Plastic Surgeons. “2000/2005/2006 National Plastic Surgery Statistics.”. 2007. American Society Of Plastic Surgeons. 24 Apr. 2007 <http://www.americansocietyofplasticsurgeons.com>.