The late physicist, Stephen Hawking, contributed greatly to our knowledge of Earth and beyond. Recently, Hawking’s extensive collection of essays and articles was released, in which he predicted that the growth of genetic manipulations will lead to a generation of rich “superhumans” which will interfere with politics and society as we know it.
Hawking suggested that laws should be put in place to prevent what could become a society of a “two-tier system of humans”: those engineered to live longer, be more intelligent, and even more aggressive, versus the unaltered, “unimproved,” population. However, “some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics,” states Hawking, “such as memory, resistance to disease and length of life.”
A member of 279 states, “It will be hard to draw the line. When do we stop curing diseases and when do we begin giving people predispositions, or social privileges, because such alterations can wipe away the personality of a society.”
Though severe genetic alterations are not likely to change the face of social interactions in our lifetimes, the cutting of nucleotides to alter gene expression is already exercised by scientists in the form of molecular scissors, or CRISPR-Cas9.
The idea of designer babies and gene manipulation is no new concept, featured in medias as far back as the 1990s such as in the film Gattaca. However, what is more and more concerning about the topic for scientists is that advancements are bringing us closer and closer to that reality.
Hawking also attempts to raise awareness about the potential threat of artificial intelligence, or AI, incorporation into the science field, claiming “AI would be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity.” The physicist outlined that only when the AI fails to complete the goals underlined for it by its human counterparts, does the threat appear. He wrote, “AI could develop a will of its own, a will that is in conflict with ours and which could destroy us.”
As scientists delve deeper into the unknown, scientific fantasies are brought closer to reality. Our genes fade from being our personal identities and artificial manipulations dawn on our posterity.
Jessica Lvov (279)