Almost every civilization has an Eden or garden-of-paradise narrative. These civilizations also share similar kinds of Eternity or after-life narratives. However, ours is the first civilization to possess so many tools by which we believe we can actually alter our narrative!
For instance, America now has more tools that can connect us to the Internet than it has people [311 million people own more than 425 million personal computers, tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles]. Given these devices, the average office worker spends 650 hours a year or 28% of working hours writing and reading emails [the total number of words in those emails, 41,000, is equivalent to a novel 166 pages long]. The very first text message was sent 20 years ago reading ‘Merry Christmas,’ whereas last year more than 8 trillion texts were sent worldwide [about 15 million a minute].
OK, so what is our ultimate hope with all these dandy tools…? According to many futurists our ultimate expectation is that we can modify, improve, even alter our medical histories. New York Times science writer David Ewing Duncan poses: “How far would you go to modify yourself using the latest medical technology?” He predicts within the next 20-30 years scientists will “create a revolution in bio-enhancements from drugs that boost your memory, to brain implants that enable you to drive your car using only your mind, to artificial legs that are faster and stronger than the real ones.”
Ahh but wouldn’t you know it — he sees troubling ethical questions ahead. And just when this was getting to be fun.
When parents were asked if they would give their children brain-boostng pills guaranteeing straight A’s, most said no. But if you tell them all the other kids will be taking the pills, almost everyone said yes. Now push the premise further and ask: “Might this mean the wealthy will have a permanent physical, genetic or bionic advantage, say like superhuman eyesight and strength?”
The mind boggles at the thought of a neo-Nazi, the NRA or Mel Gibson in possession of such pills. See what I mean about ethics ruining all the fun….
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