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Americans aren't ready for biotech-enhanced superhumans

Engadget Engadget 27/07/2016 Mariella Moon
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Superhero movies might be in, but the American public isn't quite keen on seeing a real Captain America. Pew Center researchers asked people how they'd feel about genetically modifying babies to reduce the risk of serious illnesses. They also asked participants for their thoughts on implanting brain chips and transfusing synthetic blood into perfectly healthy humans to make them faster and stronger, as well as to improve their capacity to process information. The participants' answer? Well, let's just say they're wary of using advancements in biotechnology to enhance humans' capabilities.

Around 66 and 63 percent of the respondents even said that they don't want to go through brain and blood enhancements (respectively) themselves. They were more receptive to the idea of genetically modifying infants, though, with 48 percent saying they're cool with making sure newly born humans won't ever be afflicted with cancer and other fatal illnesses. Most participants (73 percent) are also worried about biotech enhancers' potential to exacerbate inequality. Not to mention, there are those who believe using brain implants and blood transfusions to enhance one's capabilities isn't morally acceptable.

The survey certainly sheds light on how people think new technologies and medical advancements should be used. Many felt that "no effort should be spared to help the sick." Scientists in various institutions, for instance, have been experimenting with the use of brain chips to help the paralyzed communicate and move again, as well as to make cancer drugs more effective. As Pew wrote, though, most of the people they asked believe we should "proceed with caution before allowing biomedical advancements to boost the capacities of healthy people." They fear that it would start "a slippery slope toward the creation of 'superhumans' or human 'robots.'"

Pew Research Center

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