Superhuman: from Science Fiction to Reality


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Science fiction (Sci-Fi) plays an important role in human culture. Back in the 1970s, television productions like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman have shown us with an image of the future with the enhancement of human capability with modern technology. Engineering ourselves to become superhuman.

The book Engineering the Human: Human Enhancement Between Fiction and Fascination, a collection of 13 short essay edited jointly by six scholars including Bert-Jaap Koops, Christoph H. Lüthy, and etc. has provided an in-depth review on the issues regarding human enhancement in a variety of perspectives with historical and philosophical backgrounds on numerous domains including genetic enticement, life-prolonging and robotic humans with the aim of bring the debate on human enhancement to a next level through fact, fiction and fascination (Koops, 2013, p. 183).

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As defined in the fourth chapter of the book, human enhancement enables the human being to be in control of development and evolution in a direction that they desired (Cornips&Asselt,2013,p. 49). Which is a rather ambiguous definition of the future or outcome of human enhancement. This review will focus on evaluating the future of genetic enhancement, clones, and life-prolonging which is often mentioned in Sci-Fi production. Discussing the possible outcome and problems human enhancement could bring to us. Each of the topics will first be covered by reviewing the concept from that particular chapter then followed by a discussion and evaluation with a conclusion at the end of each topic to summarize. In chapter 5, Nelis and Posthuma(2013) has discussed the difficulty faced on genetic human enhancement due to the complex relationship between the genomes and the environment. As pointed out in this chapter, recent technological development in genotyping and scientific finding has raised a question on whether genetic determinism in the Hollywood science fiction movie would become possible in the upcoming future.

Science fiction production like Gattaca, Splice and The Crossing featured a society that has acquired the ability to understand, control and manipulate the human genome. To understand whether the above-mentioned science fiction will remain as a fiction or not, Nelis and Posthuma(2013,p. 64) begin their analysis on whether the society featured in Gattaca with all of the human characteristics including our career and future are entirely determined by our DNA profiles. What makes us human? Nelis and Posthuma(2013,p. 72) stated that genetic is not the only factor that contributes to human traits while the environmental factor is also a key. In the movie Gattaca, Vincent was diagnosed with 99% chance of dying of heart attack at an early age with numerous nervous disease and psychological issues (Nelis et. al,2013,p. 114). But he has proven himself to be able to complete the same task with the people that are genetically superior to him. Back to the question of what makes us human, in my opinion, it was the choices we make along our life that make us who we are. Nelis and Posthuma(2013,p. 68) mentioned multiple times that each of us is unique in every way with a different environment to grow up in.

Genetic determinism would take away our opportunity to choose as our life will be determined when we born, it’s written in our gene. Besides the possible genetic determinism outcome pointed out in chapter 5, in chapter 9 Nelis et. al (2013,p. 113) pointed out that uncontrolled genetic manipulation could lead to problematic future while there will be a group of people that processes genetic superiority over the human in every way including strength, intelligence, and health. Television productions The Crossing describe the future with genetic enhancement human taking over the world with the objective to eliminate human being as they are inferior in every way compared to them (Gay,2018). Although such apocalyptic situation would most likely only appear in a movie theater, if we do not create boundary or rules on genetic manipulation and proceed with caution, the reality of Gattaca or The Crossing may be more imminent than we think.

To briefly conclude, there is no doubt that genetic manipulation is one of the most important advancements for human enhancement. As we now process the ability to create a better human being, we must enter the new era of genotyping and genetic manipulation with caution and do not let our success crowded our judgment.

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