After reading Conor Friedersoorf’s article on “The Limits of Diversity”, I was compelled to give my thoughts on the subject. I definitely recommend everyone check out his writings, but if you are strapped for time, let me summarize it for you before I give my thoughts. Friedersoorf discusses his support of diversity as it is defined today, but rejects the possible future of the term as a possible bastardization of the human concept (my words not his). The focal point of Friedersoorf’s fear is the idea of synthetic enhancements.
According to Adam Zaretsky, an expert in the science “There’s a movement based on the idea of synthetic enhancement to make us taller, stronger, longer living, resistant to disease, resistant to radiation, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Although this seems like an atruistic endeavour, the process fo complete this is, for lack of a better word, synthetic. “The idea is that you take a gene, say for pig noses, or ostrich anuses, or aardvark tongue, and you paste that into a human sperm, a human egg, a human zygote. A baby starts to form, Developmentally, the baby is mostly human, but it has an aardvark tongue, a pig nose, and an ostrich anus. That makes for difference––bodily difference, and surely metabolic difference, but it also makes for a version of ourselves that is based on collage, so it is literally gene collage. What’s weird is once you get that started, if it stabilizes, if you can find partners, if you’re still fertile, if you’re still into it, you go ahead and reproduce, then you’ll have children who are born with ostrich anuses and aardvark tongues and pig noses.“
Cringe worthy to say the least, and the big reason for Friedersoorf’s hard diversity limit. The writer does admit that supporters of the synthetic enhancements ridicule Zaretsky’s train of thought as demoralization of the practice, and not at all accurate, the thought of pig humans is something interesting to think about. While, I do not know the man, every description led me back to the movie Gattaca. Gattaca is the story of a boy born naturally with the goal of flying into space. In a world of genetically enhanced humans, Ethan Hawke’s character is discriminated against due to possible future outcomes of hiring someone with naturally genetic defections. While I won’t spoil the movie, the ideal behind the film is the consideration of the evolving definition of discrimination and advocacy of opportunity for all. The idea of synthetic humans is intriguing and sounds like it’s becoming more of a possibility.
But is that the ultimate taboo? Should humans look to synthetically create diversity by mixing rat and human genes to create the perfect human? For humans living in 2016, that is not a question we can answer, but if you’re accepting of a world full of diversity, this has to be included….right?
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