EGGS FROM STEM CELLS: SOME POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF THE ...November 14, 2012
In Transhumanism: A Grimoire of AlchemicalAgendas, Dr Scott de Hart and I pointed out that the basic agenda behind transhumanism, as a philosophical movement or meditation upon humanity's future, seems to be at root fundamentally alchemical, since it follows the path of ascent from animal, to vegetable, to mineral, and finally, to androgynous man. Crucial to this emerging philosophical meditation are the so-called GRIN technologies: Genetics, Robotics, Information-processing, and Nanotechnologies. In that book, we likewise advanced the hypothesis that androgyny, in the ancient myths, was really a symbol for all sorts of chimerical fusions, the very types of fusions we see being advocated by some transhumanists: man-and-animal or "manimals, man-and-plant-, man and machine. Similarly, we advanced the hypothesis that the symbol of androgyny may be a legacy of a high science known in ancient times.
Interestingly enough, it is now being reported that scientists in Japan have successfully synthesized egg cells from stem cells:
What it interesting here is that the technology is being sold as being potentially beneficial to humans currently unable, for whatever reason, to have children, or, in some cases, for women wishing to have children after menopause:
"If the technique could be adapted for people, it could help infertile couples have children and even allow women to overcome the menopause."
But we may envision some other possibilities. What is possible today with the synthesization of egg cells, may tomorrow also include sperm cells, allowing infertile or impotent couples to have children...
... or it may allow a much more dubious proposition: the elimination of natural childbirth altogether, and the "production" of humans by those elites possessing the technology to do so. And there are other disturbing possibilities as well, some of which Dr. de Hart and I outlined in our book: what is the status in law of such humans? If the entire process of synthesization is an intellectual property, what of its product? Aspects of current American jurisprudence would argue that such offspring would not be property, while other aspects, particularly of patent law, would argue they are.
We need additionally to consider other problems the emerging technologies are opening up. On this website, and in the book, we have reported that some mice are now being synthesized from not just one, not just two, but three parents, all of which, incidentally, were males in a kind of genetically engineered male parthenogenesis. Suppose now the unthinkable: suppose a human child, make or female, were similarly engineered? If in law it was eventually decided this individual were not somehow "property," whose child would it be? How would inheritance law be adjudicated?
If nothing else, these technologies are advancing faster than our discussion of their social and legal implications. Rest assured, what is being done today with stem cells and eggs will be done tomorrow with stem cells and sperm, and eventually this will all be applied to humans, like it or not. We therefore need to begin the philosophical discussions now.
See you on the flip side.