An 8 year old girl from Montana, weighs only 11 lbs and joins the rare group of a 29 year old Florida man who looks like he’s 10 and a 31 year old Brazilian woman who is the size of a 2 year old (see link below). These three people have a series of genetic disabilities that have impaired their bodies from aging. This lack of physiological change, or “developmental inertia” is an interest for geneticists looking to isolate the genes that cause our bodies to age. If properly identified, these genes can be targeted at young adulthood, toggling the aging process and creating biological immortality. This potential “fountain of youth” is clearly skirting the boundaries of natural ethics and fits in well with Bill Joy’s hesitance toward the possible advances of 21st century technologies- genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GRN). Yet it also possesses the power to remedy the bevy of degenerating diseases that come along with age–Alzheimers, dementia, etc. Advanced genomics is already paving the way toward individualized health care based upon each patients’ own DNA sequence, leading to advanced warning of high risk inherited diseases. But the question becomes, do we want to know what ailments we are predisposed for, and once we know, whose responsibility does it become to seek or give treatment? Will the world naturally divide into the ‘want to know’ and the ‘want to remain ignorant’? If this ‘developmental inertia’ gene is indeed isolated and a therapeutic age blocker is created, will the world be separated to those who prefer a natural death, or those who wish to live until they’re well over 200? Obviously affordability and access will be an issue, so while live expectancy climbs into the centennials in the Western countries, how will the rest of the world look? How will overall human fitness be affected? If those who survive longest are ultimately in existence through genetic engineering, how faithful to humanity will we remain? I think these questions tie into Joy’s queries about whether intelligent robots will forcefully take over as earth’s dominant sentient beings, or if “biological humans will be squeezed out of existence.”
Let’s imagine a time in the (not so) distant future where the battle versus individual privacy and Facebook domination of data mining has been lost or forgotten, and all that makes us who we are is easily displayed for every Facebook user to see. Facebook has become intrinsically tied to our identities. There’s nothing we can do about it because public policy is now on their side, so might as well make it useful and desirable. If we have nothing to hide anymore, what type of information becomes prioritized? What type of “TMI” news could be displayed to even make our lives easier? For example, medical records and patient treatments could be publicly shown and help others diagnose their own similar problems or help make connections to health professionals. If our lives become completely transparent to our friends, families, employers, would that cause human nature to change its behavior? Would people always be on guard, or completely let their guards down?