When Dr. Scott D. de Hart and I were researching and writing Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, we were almost at a loss on how to compose the book, since events seemed to be overtaking predictions as fast as the prognosticators could make them. One of the conclusions we very early came to, however, was that any form of direct engineering of humanity, such as genetic engineering, was a form of social engineering, and that many of the emerging technologies would spell new areas and implications for society, particularly in the realm of jurisprudence.
One of the stories we discovered and wrote about, and that I have blogged about subsequently on this website, was the instance of mice having been "born" to not two, but by dint of some sophisticated gene splicing, to three parents. Other stories have filtered in, that mice or rats have been born to two male parents, or two female parents, and so on. As the technologies advance, the stories get more bizarre, but it's the one about a mouse having three parents that interests us here. When my co-author and I first discussed the possibility of this particular technology being applied to humans, we had a small conversation on how long it would take. I opted for the "safe" view that it would be within two to five years. Dr. de Hart said "I think it's already being done."
Well, apparently, he may have been right. Consider this:
The implications of this "research" are rather disturbing, not the least because it appears it was carried out in semi-secrecy to avoid public scrutiny over the ethics involved. But perhaps the real significance is that it once again - and now with some urgency - highlights the need for a discussion of human nature, of what it is and means to be human. Equally significantly, how will jurisprudence handle this? I would submit it would be a dangerous path to tread to maintain that, because these individuals have three genetic parents rather than two, that they are somehow less human, or, conversely, more human, than the rest of us. It is a discussion that needs to be had, particularly for its social consequences and for jurisprudence. Consider just the small matter of inheritance: will such individuals affect inheritance laws? My guess would be yes: for at some point such individuals will seek to establish stakes in estates based upon their genetic heredity, it is only a matter of time.
Questions such as these drive home once again that the technological modification of and interface with humanity is going to drive social change at a rate humanity is not experienced before. We need to begin having that discussion now.
See you on the flip side.