31/07/2008

The Perfect Human Vol. 1

I'm expecting this to become something of a series of posts, all revolving about humanity, our history and future, and our genes. Though that's probably just a small piece of what I'll mention. So, let's get to it, shall we?

We all know that there's always been a notion of a perfect human being, either the ├╝bermench of Nietzsche, the Nazis addition, the perfect athlete, movie star, astronaut, or thinker.
Some, like the samurai, tried to incorporate several aspects of the ideals of that time. The monks aimed for another. All, in a sense, striving to become perfect in what they saw as the only way possible. Either by fighting or meditation. (A really bad comparison in this case.)
But what I think about, not disregarding the past of course, is the future.
Thanks to watching Gattaca, and reading the latest from Iain M. Banks about us joining the Culture after genetically erasing racism, greed and so on from our DNA.
I can't help but think that it might not be such a good idea.
For instance, what if the modifications, instead of erasing all competitiveness, makes us passive and uninterested in everything?
What if the people who have been moded becomes the obedient workforce of the unmoded, who only care for their own gain?
Not that I think that would happen, but you could write interesting fiction about it. And fiction have more than once become reality, so who knows?

When we've got so far into the future that we can get rid of unwanted personal traits in people, we're probably also able to actually turn everyone into superwomen and men from birth. This presents another problem, does a superior body lead to a superior person? Here we get into the debate about inheritance vs. upbringing, which is fascinating, since I think both play into it. But I have to say that I think upbringing gets the upper hand for the most part. Sure, you can be totally fucked up from birth in a number of ways, but can also be so from upbringing. And with the right upbringing I'd like to think a monster could become a saint.
In Gattaca the protagonist does things his physically and genetically superior brother could not not, not because he is better than his brother, but because he has a reason and a goal that motivates him. Which in turn makes him better. Comparing this to what Banks said about competetiveness being a hinder for us, I can't say I agree there either.
It can be if you don't have control over it of course, in which case I suppose it's pure greed more than anything. But it's also a powerful way of achieving things we didn't think we could.

For instance: jump from one place to another. Now do it ten meter up in the air and the previously filled distance is a pitfall. It gets a lot harder that way, even though we know we can do it, if we don't have the motivation to do it we'll give up. And besides, you don't have to compete against your ├╝bermenchian brother, you can compete against yourself.
It's harder, but also a lot more rewarding if you ask me.

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