A team of researchers at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou modified the human DNA to change defective parts that lead to a blood disorder using the latest CRISPR technology.
A robot receptionist that looks human has begun service in a Japanese department store. It, or “she”, can talk in Japanese and answer questions about the store.
I’m honestly scared of either development.
Two things come to mind when I hear such developments. The Clones from Star Wars are one. The other is a few Nexus-6 androids from Philip K. Dick’s book Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?, turned into the beloved movie Blade Runner.
Which of the two are a scarier prospect? Humans genetically modified to be perfectly obedient, or robots with the same purpose?
It doesn’t seem to matter who has an opinion, people are still going to advance in that direction. But there are some good things to both.
Robots, machines, whatever you want to call them. They’re used in everyday life. In cars, as heating systems, and even the computer, tablet or smartphone you are reading this on is a machine that is controlled by human beings. That’s the purpose of robots, is it not? To be controlled by humans.
The future of what we think of robots can come in many ways. They are already taking over many manufacturing jobs. With their precision, however, they could begin to even take over hospital jobs, where an extremely careful surgeon is needed or something. They could take over accounting jobs, reducing monotonous jobs.
Although it might seem that there will be a huge loss of jobs, there it was, too, in the Industrial Revolution. New jobs will be created as humans still have to operate the robots and keep the overall system running.
Then there’s the topic of genetically modified humans.
There’s a whole argument on the bioethics of that. What happens if it goes wrong? What will happen to the production of these people? On a religious note, what will happen to their souls? There is a whole list of questions that can be asked and that I could not even fathom.
But, like robotics, there is some good to having GM humans around. Inherited diseases and genes for cancer could be removed. Viruses with no cure, like AIDS could potentially be cured as people with resistant bodies are developed. All babies could be born without defects as the human DNA is cleaned up to ensure a perfect child. There is a whole range of what ifs and solutions to diseases that could come with GM humans.
Both robots and genetically modified humans are a frightening prospect. The ethics involved are complicated. But, as science progresses, we will have to face the fact that either we face it and adopt it into society, or find other solutions and methods to solve our problems. This is a problem that is just beginning to arise, after all, and will probably be debated for decades to come.
Our job now is just to be ready and have an answer to this question when it comes.