On “Chasing Captain America” by Paul Zehr

Submitted by nima on Sat, 10/09/2021 - 21:18
On “Are We Prepared for Humans to Become Real-Life Superheroes?” by Paul Zehr

Are We Prepared for Humans to Become Real-Life Superheroes?

In his essay “Chasing Captain America”, Paul Zehr, the director of the Centre for Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria, argues production of a Superhuman due to advances in science. Advances in science and biotechnology enabled humans to modify their biology. But are we ready and allowed to make this change? First, we should understand the recognized acceptable limitations of human capability. The author compares the rules of doping in sport with biological enhancements. There are no rules about biological adaptation to environmental stresses. There are only evolutionary stresses and adaptations in biological systems that remain if they are useful and otherwise disappear. “Normal” is in our minds as a concept to categorize things simply. In biology, it is about a continuum of performance from low level to extremely high level with no defined boundaries. The effect of human biological changes on the next generations is a concern. It would be different if the changes affect one person or next generations. According to C.S. Lewis, writing in 1943’s The Abolition of Man, biologic manipulation of future generations means a few men will rule over billions. Improving human ability brings ethical and societal implications, which needs thinking as we continue developing technology. Technology and treatments were originally designed to cure and can also be used to enhance performance. We must be cautious, thoughtful, and courageous in using our biotechnological ability because we do not yet know much. We all need to have a general understanding of the issue and be involved in deciding our future. We look forward to seeing the result of well-intentioned biological, cultural and technological evolution that reduces diseases and prepares our specie for environmental change and long-term space travels.  In this way, we must pay attention to the words of Stan Lee that “with great power there must also come great responsibility.” Scientific enhancements are not just in the movies anymore, they are real.

 

Questions:

  • What guarantee is there that biological advances will not be used for military purposes?
  • Isn't it better to provide better living conditions for human beings instead of manipulating them?
  • If human biological manipulation to achieve the superhuman begins, would all countries and societies be equal to use it?
  • Do scientists have a plan B for when the project to manipulate human biology may fail?
  • Human beings today are the result of millions of years of gradual evolution and the extinction of many different human species. Does it make sense to achieve a superhuman in a few years?
  • What would happen to humans’ mentality after being a superhuman? Will be happier or will it end to a deep depression?

 

Isn't it better to provide better living conditions for human beings instead of manipulating them?

Humankind has always sought eternal life and superhuman powers. The picture of this desire is reflected in the gods of different religions, created by the human mind. Winged humans with lions' claws or fish fins are examples of this dream found in almost all ancient civilizations. In my opinion, today, when we can achieve this dream, there are more significant problems and priorities for human beings. Perhaps the most critical priority is to preserve the planet. As a result of climate change, many people suffer from water and food shortages, and many are losing their homes. Most people who suffer from this condition are in underdeveloped and developing countries. While developed countries add to their technological capabilities every day and pursue ambitious goals in space or superhuman production, underdeveloped countries seek to meet their basic needs. But soon, the effects of these climate changes will reach the developed countries as well. For example, we see more and more extensive fires every year, and the rising temperature sets a record every year. Isn't it better to use our technological and biological ability to control this situation immediately instead of building a superhuman who can travel long distances in space? Paul Zehr mentions “enabling adaptations to deal with environmental change on Earth” as one of possible modifications to human biology, but can’t we stop or slow down the climate change instead? It also refers to the fact that manipulation of human biology is a decision that will be made for future generations: “the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men.”. Likewise, suppose the ability and knowledge that exists today are used for other purposes, like the production of superhumans, instead of preserving the planet. In that case, scientists must be responsible to future generations as well.