The Majority of Americans Are Worried About Designer Babies and Brain Chip Implants

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 - 11:38AM
Genetic Engineering
Dystopias
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 - 11:38AM
The Majority of Americans Are Worried About Designer Babies and Brain Chip Implants
While sci-fi has been portraying technologies like human genetic modification and cognitive enhancers for decades, real-life technology is only just starting to catch up. But how does the public feels about these imminent advances? According to a new poll, the majority of Americans feel "worried" about these burgeoning technologies, and a large portion are against them entirely.

The new poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, showed that the public is generally suspicious of "biomedical enhancement" for human beings. More than half say they're concerned about gene editing (for designer, disease-free babies), brain chip implants (for Limitless-style cognitive enhancement), and synthetic blood transfusions (which would give people greater strength and stamina), while the percentage of people who are "enthusiastic" about these advancements was consistently less than half. Some said they were both enthusiastic and worried, but the concern is significantly more prevalent. 

Gene editing for the purpose of eradicating diseases was the least controversial, as people were evenly split on whether they thought the usage of the technology is appropriate. But more people say that they wouldn't want to enhance their own brains or strength than say they would want to use these technologies on their own bodies, especially since more than 70% of them believe that they will be implemented before they are properly tested or fully understood by scientists.

While people tend to be resistant to change in general, some of the reasoning is more charitable, and shows that the American public is genuinely worried about Gattaca coming to life. 73% of respondents, for example, thought that these advancements would increase inequality, since they would be more easily obtained by the wealthy. However, some of the other reasoning seems to show wariness of scientific progress in general, such as the concern that we're "meddling with nature," held by approximately half of the respondents for each new technology. 

This likely won't mean that these technologies won't come to fruition, since pretty much everything that can happen in science ends up happening, but it could mean that progress will be slower than other countries, for better and for worse. The UK recently became the first country to sanction the genetic modification of human embryos, while China has just approved human trials for CRISPR gene editing. Change is probably coming in America, too, but lack of public support could slow it down significantly.
Science
Technology
Genetic Engineering
Dystopias

Load Comments