Oxford Today, Volume 22 Number 1, Michaelmas 2009
„Artificially engendered humans have long been a science fiction staple – from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Huxley’s Brave New World and, most recently, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island – their heroes dehumanised figures depicted amid bleak, biotechnologically devastated landscapes.
But in the year of Darwin’s bicentenary, science fact presses hard on the heels of science fiction. Three decades since Louise Brown, the first ‘test tube baby’, woke to the world, breakthroughs are now trumpeted almost every month. Chinese scientists recently announced that they had cloned the first animals from skin cells. Earlier, British scientists revealed they had manufactured artificial sperm using stem cells from a fiveday- old male embryo.
Human enhancement provokes violent controversy: the American writer Francis Fukuyama branded ‘transhumanism’ (the radical enhancement of humanity by technological means) ‘the world’s most dangerous idea’. But genetic technologies are only one, if perhaps the most controversial, sector on the enhancement front.“ [read original article]