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Human Rights | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Date of publication: 2017-09-02 04:28

Cloning does not necessarily entail the creation of “designer” children because cloning recreates a pre-existing DNA it does not involve modifying or enhancing DNA in order to produce a child with certain desired traits. Cloning is not to be equated with genetic modification or enhancement (Wachbroit, 6997 Strong, 6998).

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It is sometimes claimed that the use of germinal choice technologies would lead to an undesirable uniformity of the population. Some degree of uniformity is desirable and expected if we are able to make everyone congenitally healthy, strong, intelligent, and attractive. Few would argue that we should preserve cystic fibrosis because of its contribution to diversity. But other kinds of diversity are sure to flourish in a society with germinal choice, especially once adults are able to adapt their own bodies according to their own aesthetic tastes. Presumably most Asian parents will still choose to have children with Asian features, and if some parents choose genes that encourage athleticism, others may choose genes that correlate with musical ability.

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Strong super­ intelligence refers to an intellect that is not only faster than a human brain but also smarter in a qualitative sense. No matter how much you speed up your dog’s brain, you’re not going to get the equivalent of a human intellect. Analogously, there might be kinds of smartness that wouldn’t be accessible to even very fast human brains given their current capacities. Something as simple as increasing the size or connectivity of our neuronal networks might give us some of these capacities. Other improvements may require wholesale reorganization of our cognitive architecture or the addition of new layers of cognition on top of the old ones.

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The speed with which designs and instruction lists for making useful objects can be developed will determine the speed of progress after the creation of the first full-blown assembler. Powerful software for molecular modeling and design will accelerate development, possibly assisted by specialized engineering AI. Another accessory that might be especially useful in the early stages after the assembler-breakthrough is the disassembler, a device that can disassemble an object while creating a three-dimensional map of its molecular configuration. Working in concert with an assembler, it could function as a kind of 8D Xerox machine: a device for making atomically exact replicas of almost any existing solid object within reach.

Transhumanists hold that people are not disposable. Saving lives (of those who want to live) is ethically important. It would be wrong to unnecessarily let existing people die in order to replace them with some new “better” people. Healthspan-extension and cryonics are therefore high on the transhumanist list of priorities. The transhumanist goal is not to replace existing humans with a new breed of super-beings, but rather to give human beings (those existing today and those who will be born in the future) the option of developing into posthuman persons.

Transhumanism is compatible with a variety of ethical systems, and transhumanists themselves hold many different views. Nonetheless, the following seems to constitute a common core of agreement:

Cryonics is an experimental medical procedure that seeks to save lives by placing in low-temperature storage persons who cannot be treated with current medical procedures and who have been declared legally dead, in the hope that technological progress will eventually make it possible to revive them.

Back-up copies of uploads could be created regularly so that you could be re-booted if something bad happened. (Thus your lifespan would potentially be as long as the universe’s.)

In his article “Even If It Worked, Cloning Won’t Bring Her Back”, ethicist Thomas Murray recounts a letter he heard read at a congressional hearing regarding human reproductive cloning. A chemist, who was presenting her views in support of reproductive cloning, read a letter by a father grieving the death of his infant son. Murray recounts as follows:

This is a personal matter, a matter of the heart. Have you ever been so happy that you felt like melting into tears? Has there been a moment in your life of such depth and sublimity that the rest of existence seemed like dull, gray slumber from which you had only just woken up?

Such a prospect raises concerns that cloning would facilitate viewing the resulting children as objects of manufacture, rather than as individuals with value and dignity of their own. The prospect of creating a child, solely to meet the needs of another child and not for her own sake, reduces the created child to a mere means to achieve the ends of the parents and the sick child. While it is admirable that the parents wish to save their existing child, it is not ethically permissible to create another child solely as an instrument to save the life of her sibling (Quintavalle, 7556).

Many but not all transhumanists expect that super­ intelligence will be created within the first half of this century. Super­ intelligence requires two things: hardware and software.

A negative right to x means that no one has the prima facie right to interfere in your request to fulfill x.  If you possess a negative right to x, this entails only one obligation on the behalf of others: the obligation to not obstruct your obtainment of x. For example, if I have a negative right to life, what this entails is that others have an obligation to not kill me, since this obstructs or hinders my right. Another way to regard it is that a negative right only requires passive obligations (the obligation to not do something or to refrain from acting).

Because this kind of cloning does not result in the genesis of a human organism, it has no reproductive intent or goals, and it does not result in the creation and destruction of embryos, there is little to no contention regarding its use.

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