Marvin Olasky

 After reading the technological radicals, I still suspect that some prospects for deeper revolutions are overrated. Will artificial intelligence be in the saddle, wiping out mankind? No. Computers will be even more glorious machines, able to imitate humans and leave a person reading a transcript unable to know whether computers or humans are speaking -- but they will still be responding to software, without the spark of life that is God's gift.

 More likely than a melding of man and computer is the genetic engineering of half-human, half-animal chimeras through the uniting of human and great ape sperm and eggs. Guidelines published this spring by the National Academy of Science and three affiliated groups gave species-mixing experiments the go-ahead. If those experiments proceed, all kinds of legal, ethical and theological issues will arise: Will such creatures be considered persons? Can they be owned, or does the 13th Amendment's abolition of slavery apply to them? Might they have souls?

 Those will be hard questions. Potential increases in human longevity could also bring about difficult issues, but I doubt we'll average triple digits. Doctors will be able to repair parts of our bodies, but after a while all systems will spring leaks. I may be wrong on that and much else, yet I feel sure about this: We learned in this last century that better things make for easier living but not necessarily better lives, and we're likely to learn the same about biotechnology in this century.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit www.worldmag.com.
 
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