Today I attended an early showing of the science fiction epic 'Elysium'. The film, in my opinion, was slick science fiction and from what I have noticed there is plenty of slick science fiction out there that can be used to deliver all kinds of subtext. The film never really had a moment where it dragged and the message was obvious about what the future holds if we continue on our path of heavy surveillance, overpopulation, bad health care and the polarization between the haves and the have-not's.
It is also evident in this film that there is a definite distinction between common people who are forced to live in impoverished slums and those rich elite who live in posh surroundings located on a space station suspended above the earth.
As I had said in another published article, the critics love this film however there are some that have said that it is heavy handed politically. I know that bias will determine who the film is calling out as a villain, however the entire system seems to be at fault and the politics involved are far more bio-political or eugenically political rather that forcing a liberal of conservative label on the political message.
The range of diversity on the planet seems to no longer be valued anymore. This is why we declare war on a manufactured 'other'. This is why, in the film, there is no real war declared against the poor only a barrier that is placed between them and their freedom to lead healthier and more productive lives. It cannot be accomplished in the slums and people are forced to take shuttles to try and enter into the world illegally.
Most of us would hope that our future would consist of being healthier, more intelligent, attractive and having a longer prosperous life.
However, there is a few that are satisfied with just being average, but when it comes to our progeny, most of us want to see our children do better than we did. We want them to have the best future that we can provide.
If we had the opportunity would we choose to enhance their looks, intelligence, athletic abilities and lifespan with customized gene injection or perhaps using designer chromosomes that we can order through a clearinghouse online?
Many decades in the past it was the topic of science fiction, it still is however now the reality is here as researchers have discovered or isolated a gene that can influence a particular human trait. We have heard of genetic research done on animals and the creation of what are called chimeras in the lab.
However, if it has not been claimed in the consensus narrative the secret has been let out of the bag and the genetic genie has been let out of the bottle as fertility clinics have already genetically modified human embryos. We are even about to enter a post-human epoch where not only genetically modified babies will be common but there will also be offspring that could be born with human plus traits and brains that can have that technological handshake with computers and robots.
The human body version 2.0 is allegedly going to be a reality within the next six years where there will be an availability of radical upgrades to maintain longevity, health and well-being. The emerging biotechnology will bridge with nanotechnology in a revolutionary change that will challenge how see the human life span.
Already science has created methods using nanotechnology to augment and ultimately replace failing organs.
In fact, the process is well underway now and while full nanobot rewiring of the brain is not expected before 2020, it has already been reported in peer reviewed science journals that our DNA has been successfully targeted by nanobots "for drug therapy or destruction."
New psychiatric science is also emerging where human behavior will be managed and in most cases predicted. This means that freewill will be targeted with the usage of drug therapy – or it can be eliminated if we choose to have it that way.
Ethics are being voiced but scientists are happier with opening Pandora’s box feeling that it would probably be better to say I am sorry than to wait for the people and today's arcane politics to give permission to move forward.
Science will come up with something to somehow dampen negative consequences if they arise.
The question is do people already assume that this science is a malignancy or do they see it as benign and logical step in our evolution?
History has shown that eugenics and genetic selection has had horrific consequences, not to mention the military experimentation on human populations and what that created and still haunts us today.
It was kismet that I stumbled across an old article from 2001 that reported that genetically modified babies have already been born in the United States and that their whereabouts are unknown.
I was cautioned that the story may be a tabloid story but after a lot of searching the story seems to be about a nebulous lab in some remote location closed down and the whereabouts of the babies are unknown.
All in all 30 healthy babies were born and scientists ran a genetic analysis on two of the infants. Tests confirmed the babies inherited their DNA from three adults -- two women and one man.
It is now possible for parental engineering of the babies. This is a breakthrough for parents who worry that their children could be born with genetic abnormalities because of a genetic disposition that may cause birth defects.
The future is now and we now see a procedure that empowers "parents to give their children a healthy life, even if it meant giving their offspring traits they themselves could not pass down."
However, the ethical arguments are about mistakes that can be made and there is that murky area about life and conception and whether or not we devalue life when we make genetic changes and then discard the results if they don’t work out.
For example, a recent story out of India about a child that spontaneously bursts into flame sounds like it could be taken from 'The X-Men' or the 'Fantastic Four'.
Doctors are saying that the child Rahul has a rare medical condition where the skin on the child is emitting flammable gas which causes to child to flame up if he is not monitored.
He first caught fire when he was only 9 days old. Doctors are divided on their opinion about the rare medical condition, with some stating that it is a possibility and others completely rejecting it as child abuse. Tests have shown that there is really no reason to suspect such abuse.
Now this may sound outrageous, but India has an extensive genetic experimentation program. In 2007, an Indian research team published their research for creating a strain of bananas that inoculates people against Hepatitis B. The team also successfully altered carrots, lettuce, potatoes, and tobacco to carry the vaccine, but feel that bananas are the most reliable way of transporting the vaccine.
Meanwhile, the United States in 2013 set aside $44.5 million for DARPA to develop “biological systems that cross multiple scales of biological architecture and function, from the molecular and genetic level.” The objective is to create a super soldier.
Soldiers can be enhanced to be more effective in a war zone. Could you imagine a group of soldiers that have the abilities to move like animals or even burst into flame without burning? They could be a secret lethal weapon.
The truth is that we share genes with cats, carrots and apples, and there is nothing carrot-like or human-like to these genes, because those same genes are shared by other organisms too. We just happen to take present genes for projects from some organisms rather than others.
What makes us human is how all of those genes function to make us that way.
What we do as humans intentionally manipulate objects of nature. But not until now have humans been able to intentionally manipulate the biological foundations of human nature.
The question that always arises is should we? However now it is apparent that we already have and so now what do we do with the results.
Is a human life less of a human life if it's created in a lab or is genetically designed by parents that wanted only the best for their unborn child?
Now that we have at least 30 of these genetically modified babies what should be done with them? Should we accept them as human beings and put away the Frankenstein anxiety or are there still die hard believers that think that this is an abomination and that those who are different should be hunted down and terminated?
The politics of today have not grown substantially enough to procure a bio political dialogue. All we can determine is that there will be the genetically inferior and the genetically elect. The discussion wanes and the politics will have to change because developments concerning the new human genetic technologies have been interpreted in many countries largely through the old dialogue of abortion politics and the underlying social wars.
This is why films like 'Elysium' are politically relevant and open the dialogue now to avoid a dystopia later. Who will live and what will the quality of life be if we cannot cure ourselves of cancers and other maladies that will leave families genetically unable to adapt to the new world that awaits us.
The old political arguments will no longer have influence. Therefore, it is an evolutionary imperative that we begin setting the foundation that literally separates and evaluates abortion rights and keeping them apart from genetic and medical research that benefits and enhances life while making clear that we have a moral obligation to prohibit any and all applications of genetic science that open the door to profoundly dangerous and horrible outcomes.