MY NAME IS METAL
When I was in high school I was first introduced to New Wave music. I understood that it had a weird futuristic sound to it that was literally before its time. At least some of the bands of the New Wave era sounded like they would forever be remembered as these future rock oddities, much like David Bowie, or even Alice Cooper in his “We are all clones” years.
Two bands that seemed to be before their time were DEVO and a singer from England that had a whining voice that sounded artificial named Gary Numan. My brother first introduced me to his strange music. From songs like “Down in the Park” where alien rape machines awaited those who were abducted, to a human growth lab mentioned in the song “Metal,” I became hooked.
The song “Metal” by Gary Numan has been covered by many bands including Nine Inch Nails. The lyrics in the song describe a time of Transhumanism and future shock that could have easily been listened to in Huxley’s Brave New World.
We’re in the building where they make us grow
And I’m frightened by the liquid engineers
My Mallory heart is sure to fail
I could crawl around the floor just like I’m real
The sound of metal
I want to be you
I should learn to be a man
Plug me in
And turn me on. Oh, everything is moving.
Today as I was reading my morning notes I could not stop thinking of the song and how it seemed so bizarre in the 1980’s to hear such science fiction lyrics and today they are not so bizarre.
Being in a lab or a building where we can grow children is at least two years away according to a report from Russia Today and the child-growing lab is being used in order to allow two men to have children.
Babies of same-sex couples are becoming a future prospect, as scientists have disclosed revolutionary research on making human egg and sperm cells using the skin of two adults.
It means that we might soon see a fully “dish-manufactured” baby in a lab.
The study was carried out by Cambridge University and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, and funded by the Wellcome Trust.
The peculiarity of stem cells is that they can be modified into any tissue in the body.
After producing engineered sperm cells, the researchers compared these with natural human stem cells from aborted fetuses, and checked that the two had identical characteristics. An interesting detail detected by the scientists is that the cell is “regenerated and reset” in the process of “reprogramming”, so it doesn’t age or have genetic mistakes.
The researchers used the skin cells of five adults. Prior to this successful attempt, scientists had managed to create baby mice from engineered egg and sperm cells. Azim Surani, professor of physiology and reproduction at Cambridge, who heads the project and participated in the creation of the first test-tube baby in 1978.
The research says that the gene SOX17, deemed insignificant in mice, turned out to be essential in the process of “reprogramming” human cells. Details were published in the Cell journal. The specialist heading the Israeli side of the project, Jacob Hanna, said it may be possible to create a baby in just two years, and the gay community was particularly excited by the opportunity.
“It has already caused interest from gay groups because of the possibility of making egg and sperm cells from parents of the same sex,” he said. Apart from helping same-sex families out, the study may prove efficient in dealing with infertility, in particular in those who survived childhood diseases like cancer.
“I am not in favor of creating engineered humans and the social and ethical implications need to be thought through, but I am very confident it will work and will be very relevant to anyone who has lost their fertility through disease,” Jacob Hanna added.
As the Israeli researcher states, there is controversy connected with implementing the breakthrough discovery, both ethical and legal. The use of engineered sperm and egg cells could lead to changes in the law.
At the center of the ethical debate is the concept of people “designing” their children, ahead of the motion to approve the so-called “three-parent baby.”
The UK has become the first country in the world to legalize the creation of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) babies using DNA from three people, two fathers and a mother or a mother, father and donor (mother).
Genetic engineering, cloning, and artificial neuro- technology is splashing the news everyday. This I am afraid will be the new catalyst for organized fear amongst the populace. The consensus conservative viewpoint is that it is unwise for man to tamper with what God has created. To some degree however the militant few are hypocritical when it comes to such matters.
The altering of the body anciently was considered heretical. Stories in our mythology such as the story of Samson and Delilah point out that tampering with the hair can make you lose strength.
Cutting of a fingernail was considered going against nature, and tattooing of the skin and piercings still have not shaken their taboos with many people to this day. Meanwhile Religions espoused the idea of mutilating the penis in circumcision rights to show loyalty to God. We still circumcise in the modern era, and doctors now say it is not necessary.
Many years ago the idea of ripping the heart out of a human being and watching it beat while repairing it was considered madness. The thought of opening up the heart as an unconscious body lay on a cold operating table sounded barbaric. However it is routine now and many people accept it as a way to sustain life.
The idea of taking matters into our own hands, and using self-determination is considered taboo and the debate begins on whether or not it is ethically and morally responsible to modify or even create a life form outside the womb or inside the laboratory.
The question you need to ask yourself in this new age is, if the acts of cloning, genetic engineering, synthetic modifying, cessation of pregnancy, organ transplanting, or even deprogramming are evil. They are all connected in a way and all make you question if society has less respect for the human body.
There is even a deeper philosophical question to be considered. Dogmatic spokespersons tell us that religion is for the spirit and not for the body. So why then are they concerned about what we do with those bodies?
It is also necessary to consider if we are our own masters of our brains. Cognitive liberty is a territory not really observed in present tense. But in the future, your liberty to think unhindered, without drug induce interrogations, or dream monitoring or even thought cleansing are things we are not thinking about now, but will have to understand and protect ourselves from unwanted tinkering of the mind by governments or even the places we work at.
Even our vacations can be “staycations” through the use of virtual reality.
The holiday of the future will still provide memories of strolls along sunny beaches, the sensation of sand between your toes and the peaceful rush of the ocean, but there will be one crucial difference.
You won’t have ever actually been away. In fact, you might not have even left your home. Instead, people will download memories to their brains to make them feel as if they have been on a rested and fun holiday.
“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” is a short story by Philip K. Dick first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in April 1966. It features a melding of reality, false memory, and real memory.
It is a story about an ordinary man who goes to a company called REKAL that provides mental vacations and relaxation. The company provides the customer an implant of “extra-factual memory” that simulates or creates a virtual brain trip to the planet Mars. In this vacation the protagonist Douglas Quail wants to be a secret agent.
This has been the subject of the film Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dr. Michio Kaku is best known for his expertise in theoretical physics — his previous books have dealt with topics such as parallel universes and the cosmos.
But his latest book, The Future of the Mind, takes a look at how rapid advancements could bring about huge changes in how we understand — and use — our brains in the next 50 to 100 years.
His theories on the future of the mind are wide-ranging, from the possibilities of telepathy to controlling “programmable matter” with our thoughts alone.
At times, his opinions sound purely like science fiction — but he’s convinced that these are developments we’ll see not just in the distant future, but by the end of the century.
These breakthroughs in reproduction and mind expansion are only the beginning. Mankind is about to venture into a world of future shock because things are about to rush us into a future that no one not even the biblical prophets or the ancient soothsayers could fathom.
Ever since man walked the earth he has made his world, destroyed it and made it all over again. As it is written biblically that God made man in his own image, it must be said that man has made things in his own image to his own liking in ways unprecedented for thousands of years.
It has been speculated by many theorists that as man realizes his power he most often sees himself as a God and develops technological creations that imitate what is termed “natural” or “human.”
By the time we get to the postmodern world that many human beings inhabit today, the lived-in, physical environment is for the most part, culturally produced. Reality is encountered mostly as virtual, or produced as an effect of human enhancements and operations. We are kept constantly surrounded by human productions and technology that is indistinguishable from magic.
We are transported everywhere by machines within a realm totally fabricated by human engineering. We remain mesmerized by phenomena that are electronically simulated. We lose ourselves in virtual worlds.
Most memories now are collective unconscious thoughts that have been pumped into you through electronic transmission. You accept reality through the electronic medium. All things both real and simulated have had an effect of your brain. You have retained everything based on what a controlled electronic dictum has given you. Our rational minds are now far from rational because we have had most of the objective reality replaced by hyper-reality.
The uncanny valley hypothesis holds that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. From robots, to enhanced humans and even synthesized sperm and ovum, the new science is here and Transhumanism is the next phase in our evolutionary shift.
A loose definition of Transhumanism is a point in evolution where man becomes something that is beyond human. Transhumanists see the human body as something that can be improved through science and technology.
Human sperm can now be created outside of the human body in a laboratory. The sperm can be made from a small sliver of skin. It raises the possibility of babies being born entirely through artificial means, and even the macabre scenario of long-dead men “fathering” children from beyond the grave.
This means that we are at a point in our evolution where human reproduction is not a purely biological process. Imagine making sperm from the DNA of a dead man. Or how about making sperm from the DNA of a child? How would that affect us psychologically, socially and ethically? The process could be done in a lab with machines monitoring the embryo as it grows.
With this technology it is feasible to get the same result from the stem cells of an aborted fetus. This would mean that if a woman wanted an abortion she could request that the cells of the unborn fetus to be salvaged, kept in liquid nitrogen, and then used later when the baby could be born at a more convenient time for the mother. Does this technology now eliminate the murdering of babies in abortion clinics?
Would conservative groups praise this type of technology if it meant that the baby would eventually be born instead of killed off?
Let’s face it 40 years ago we were warned of this happening. We were told that in the future life would change at a faster pace, in everything from technology to family structure to politics. People were moving more, throwing away their belongings sooner and having to adapt more often to new kinds of work.
Which reminds me of yet another song by Zager and Evans called “In the Year 2525” where much of what you do, what you think and say will be in a pill of a nano- bot you have swallowed or injected into you.
All of the futurists gave us approximations and probabilities, and we have seen to it that they are not so far off in their observations.