Monday, March 23, 2015


   Do you think it is possible to reach a place in the progression of human life where we cease to be human? That begs a number of questions, not the least of which is what is a human being?
    Nicholas Wade wrote in the New York Times of a call by eminent biologists to stop the use of genome editing that could change how human DNA is inherited. While it might cure genetic diseases it could also be used to change qualities like intelligence, physical development and more.
The scientists are concerned the technique will be used before the human race understands the ethical challenges such technology presents. Remember the old potboiler The Boys From Brazil? Imagine the bruisers the NFL could breed, for example!
     This exciting new science develops as humans continue to demonstrate a propensity to screw up and to exercise lack of judgement.
     A lawyer in Huntington Beach is a poster child of such.
Matt McLaughlin has proposed a California ballot proposition that would authorize the killing of gays and lesbians. It's a case that tests limits of free speech, but has caused a reaction that questions why can't something that would be illegal be stopped.  In the meantime some are trying to get McLaughlin disbarred. 
     So, back to the rise of amazing and fantastic science and the potential of human idiots and miscreants to get their hands on such. 
    We should never halt the progress of advancing knowledge, but we have probably reached a cross roads where ethics and implications need to be studied and weighed more arduously than ever.
     We are flirting with cyborgs as we implant new knees, shoulders, hips, heart valves and etc. A chip, placed in the brain to limit the effect of a neural and muscular disorder is a wonder, and so too is the potential of similar procedures to halt dementia. But is there a point at which we change what it means to be human?  This question is probably more relevant when considering artificial intelligence, though we are beginning to blur the lines and draw more closely to a change in the evolution of human life. Biology and nanotechnology present us with new horizons.
      There are bright minds and deep thinkers among us and they are pondering what used to be the stuff of science fiction and fantasy.  Do you think the balance of humanity is up for such deep thinking? Or are we populated by larger numbers who would rather prioritize their own desire to live longer, or to birth beautiful children, or create NBA superstars who can fly, or breed warriors who fight wars with unending force, etc?  What do you think? How should we enter this future?

An oddball assortment of images stuck in the corner file
 Spring fresh
   Palm Springs Patio mellow
  Patience at Lampton Cliff
   Hearst Castle via telephoto
 Barrel Room setting for a Zin Fest Weekend Winemakers Dinner at Le Vigne
  Wow & delicious!  

   See you down the trail.


  1. You have some lovely photographs. The Palm Springs lamp corner is a classic.

  2. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

    May perfect love cast out any evil actions. Thanks Tom for causing us to "critically think" about the important issues of today. Too frequently we are distracted and absorbed with the fluff of entertainment.

  3. These technological changes will bring comfort to some, but frightening power for a few. Who could control it or use it wisely?. No one currently on earth by the look of things.

  4. In Arthur C. Clarke's "Songs from a Distant Earth" there are long discussions about what to send on the seed ships to distant solar systems, journeys that took 100's of years. On some of the ships they left out religion and sent along what they called the Jefferson 3 constitution it had Presidential selection by lottery and a term of 2 years. All they heavy lifting and work was done by robots and they seemed to have bred out the idiots but Clark didn't get into how they did it. maybe it was the selection process for the long trip.

  5. "How should we enter this future?" My 1st thought is, there are far too many zealous ideological factions of humankind that don't agree with one anothers' company and, given our bloody history, seem unlikely to change. We may safely assume any general genetic advantage will be used to gain power and wealth at the expense of others. This also means we are not ethically advanced enough to sort the problem out except in small circles. So, I hope those scientific entities which master genetic manipulation demand legislation before releasing their results and methods. Simplest and furthest-reaching law would be, for every genetic enhancement the recipient should be deprived one foot of height and 1/6th of her/his mass down to a length of 6 inches and weight of 6 ounces --consolation prize would award these elementals wings and rights to live in hollow hills. Personally, with a pacemaker in my chest and being partially bionic, I shall take what comes, and remember the definition of "human" barely begins and certainly does not end with us.

  6. Speaking as someone who is trained as a scientist, the fallibility among scientists is that too many believe that something that can be studied, should be studied. Of course, the next question is who decides.

  7. A beautiful place to spend time with friends. And those questions are truly thought provoking.