Our Posthuman Future | Francis Fukuyama

Summary of: Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
By: Francis Fukuyama

Introduction

Embark on a thought-provoking journey through the complex world of biotechnology and contemplate its implications on the very essence of humanity. With ‘Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution,’ Francis Fukuyama exposes the possibilities and challenges of a time when technology can manipulate human nature in unprecedented ways. This summary illuminates key themes such as genetic engineering, neuropharmacology, and genetic stratification while probing into the political, ethical, and moral dilemmas our society must confront. Through clear and user-friendly language, you will discover the risks and advantages of biotechnology as it interfaces with human dignity and our understanding of mortality.

The Threats of Contemporary Biotechnology

The book argues that contemporary biotechnology has the potential to alter human nature, which could lead to a posthuman era. The mixed benefits and harms of biotechnology create a seamless package that could significantly impact political rights. The possibility of manipulating body chemistry through genetic and non-genetic means raises a fundamental question on how political rights shall defend against the powerful advancements of biotechnology.

The Future of Genetic Advancements

The idea of maintaining our bodies in normal function perpetually has been proposed by William Haseltine, CEO of Human Genome Science. Princeton biologist Joe Tsien experimented by adding an extra gene to the mouse’s genetic makeup, resulting in superior memory. The question then arises – how many “special genes” should be added before it becomes something other than human? The use of neuropharmacology, specifically psychotropic drugs, has also led to political trends such as reducing responsibility for one’s actions and expanding therapeutic realms. These advancements have the potential to change people’s relationship with death and how it’s viewed in society.

The Future of Genetics

Genetic engineering is no longer a far-fetched idea and is already present in agriculture with Bt corn and Roundup Ready soybeans. With the completion of the Human Genome Project, the application of genetic technology on humans is imminent. The merger of biology and information technology has led to bioinformatics, a field of medical focus. The study of how proteins interact to affect human organisms, proteomics, is the next focus of research. Although it is clear that research is needed before applying genetics on humans, the impact of biotechnology on neuropharmacology, prolongation of life, and understanding genetic behavior is already profound. As human nature forms the basis of our ideas of justice, morality, and social progress, these developments are expected to have a significant impact on society.

Biotechnology and Human Dignity

The emergence of biotechnology has raised concerns about threats to human dignity. Stem cell research is one such frontier in contemporary biomedical research. Social stratification of genetic variation is a major issue as genetic selection could favor the wealthy with innumerable skills and abilities. This threatens to create a permanent underclass.

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