Americans Are Apprehensive About “Enhancing” Human Abilities
August 17, 2016 Leave a comment
For fans of science fiction, the idea of humans artificially enhancing their abilities (by implanting computer chips or genetically modifying embryos to protect against various diseases or disorders) is a pretty familiar idea. And some of those technologies are likely to arise within the next few decades, but with that technology comes some serious concerns.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, while many Americans believe that we’ll be able to transplant artificial organs, cure most cancers, or implant computer chips into our bodies within the next fifty years, they aren’t quite sold on whether or not we should actually do those things. The survey asked people how likely they would be to have computer chips installed into their brains, get synthetic blood transfusions, or edit their babies’ genes. About a third of respondents said they would consider having a computer chip installed into their brain or get a synthetic blood transfusion. Meanwhile, just about half said they would consider editing their babies’ genes.
Among the findings, the Pew Research Center concluded that Americans with strong religious identities were less likely to want such procedures, and more likely to think that they were a bad idea in general, stating that such procedures were crossing the line by interfering with nature. However, people were also more likely to considering undergoing an enhancement if it were controllable or reversible, or if those enhancements would bring about a sort of health equality. People were less likely to think it is okay for synthetic blood to make people faster or stronger than they are, or to let computer chips improve cognitive abilities.
The survey tells us that overall, Americans are confident that science will continue to advance human capabilities as we move forward, but our fears about such procedures might outweigh the potential benefits. While curing cancer seems like an easy sell, implanting computer chips into our brains seems like it might be slightly harder to pull off.