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Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),


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we should use new technologies and genetic engineering to enhance human beings.

Here is an issue that has always divided people at University and therefore should bolster some interesting debate on TED. Interestingly the debates we've had were sparked by Aubrey De Grey's TEDtalk back when TED was new to us. So this in a way is bringing a debate back to its place of origin.

I have my personal opinion on the matter but I will withold it until I've heard some arguments for and against.

Other issues that can be raised in the debate is the extent to which it should be allowed, solutions to problems arising from it and the societal consequences of such a shift.

So where does everyone stand on this issue?

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    Mar 5 2011: I'd say "yes, but when it's safe enough". And it would be safe enough when we have full understanding of the human genome. We don't have it yet. Scientists are currently basically playing with it, and trying to improve the parts of the gene for which they do have understanding. I think that we should only do enhancements on a larger scale once the full consequences are known, and that's not the case currently and seems unlikely it will be in the near future. Yes, we'll explore the genome enough to make a lot of changes and enhancements. I just think we should hold them out FOR NOW.
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      Mar 6 2011: As a student of bioinformatics, I can really appreciate what you're saying. If I've learned one thing from the course it's that genome sequencing really isn't as straightforward as I used to think it was. We're definitely not there yet, although it's worth having the debate now rather than when we get there.
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    Mar 7 2011: I will not deny this is always appealing , we should improve on synthetic hormones as I believe its a personal choice and as long as their not breaking laws, hurting or killing people ... I lightly advocate such things. As for human engineering prior to birth? Higher nurturing substances of nature possibly. What would you like a 3rd arm, hormone injections? HGH and other synthetic chemicals such a progesterone and testosterone can accommodate a human being. Though new borne develops these through its life based on its needs and likely the needs of society. Therefore beauty is like produced out of necessity, strength out of fear and encouragement. While it would be nice to think you could make Brad Pitt from fight club over and over again, notice most people do not sustain these extreme levels of beauty and incredible mass as it isn't needed unless we are in times of war, possible underground fighting, modeling...which most models end up being plain due to the better contrast of the aesthetics that create more significant beauty. Therefore the answer in the traditional sense of super human pre -birth engineering is no. The answer to becoming super human if you F*c% with me bad enough...I will hire a doctor and become a monster to pull your limbs apart or simply defend myself from cruelty , thats here and exist today.
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    Mar 7 2011: Whenever I see this debate, people seem to ignore the fact that we're not talking about modifying ourselves. We're talking about modifying other people, people who haven't been born yet.

    I'd love to be superhuman, but I'm not sure I want to be an older me and sharing a world with a new species of human.
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      Mar 7 2011: I'm not completely sure I understand. Can you elaborate please? I'm genuinly curious.
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        Mar 8 2011: Sorry, I was talking strictly about genetic engineering. That is, the next generation will receive the benefits but nobody alive today will. And we'll be sharing the same planet.

        In terms of new technologies being used for the people alive today, I'm all for it. I'm sure anyone who wears glasses or other artificial enhancements will feel the same way.
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    Mar 6 2011: I say no. Why fix something that isn't broken? Why mess with the balance of nature? To suggest a human enhancement would suggest we understand all things human. science still doesn't understand how our brains work yet there is talk to enhance ourselves? It doesn't make sense to me. I always side with mother nature, let nature take it's course. Naturally. I love and support science but like everything there are limits.
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      Mar 6 2011: This is interesting actually, where do you draw the line between the natural and the artificial?
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        Mar 6 2011: We will naturally tap into our minds and realize our potential: we are what we think. We all possess infitinate potential. Without knowing the process and science behind GE it suggests modifying our genetic makeup to "enhance" and to me this would not be natural and if done before we fully understand our natural capabilities it could result negatively. I say support the research to gain a better insight in understanding the human brain and it's capabilities before we attempt "enhancement".
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          Mar 6 2011: Your conclusion is similar to Vasil's: Maybe but later when we know more. I can agree with that. Another alternative is to approach transhumanism gradually. We could argue that to some extent we've already started a weak form of transhumanism (one that is not as invasive as what full-blown transhumanism promises) with medecine and prosthetic limbs (although the latter is more a case of fixing which from your previous comment I suspect you'd be more ok with).
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    Mar 5 2011: Humanoid new terminolgy it is about our next generation of human will be hydbird with machine
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    Mar 5 2011: I'd say no, as it has already being tried, aka Eugenics. In theory its good, in practice, well, just look at what HItler was doing.

    Anyhow, Eugenics still exist today under a brand new name "Genetics".
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      Mar 6 2011: I've heard that said before, but I still don't see how it's like eugenics. Eugenics involved artificially selecting people under false pretences of making our species better. That involved killing and sterilising people based on very terrible criteria that ultimately had very little to do with fitness. It was bracketed as being what evolution wanted us to do, bolstering a further false idea that evolution has a purpose and direction.

      Transhumanism seeks to enhance humans in the same way we've already been enhancing ourselves with technology and synthetic objects, but more directly. It does need to be done at the expense of anyone.

      Genetics is the study of genes, how can you brand a whole field of science, especially one I'm highly involved in as eugenics? You know there are courses you can take in genetics.