MindBullets 20 Years

Calls grow to give animals human rights

Big tech scrambles to hire bio-ethicists as inter-species genetic engineering debate heats up

It’s 2019 all over again.

Silicon Valley is on a hiring spree – for bio-ethicists.

Advances in genetic engineering involving integrating animal DNA into human embryos, and human DNA into animals, using CRISPR technology, to enhance health and cognitive ability, have caused an ethical and legal conundrum.

If some humans are technically partly animals, and some animals are part-human, who decided who qualifies for human rights? And who counts as a real person?

Human rights groups are divided into two camps, one insisting that human-animal genetic engineering should be banned outright in order to prevent the bifurcation of the human race; the other preferring to broaden the definition of a ‘person’ to include all sentient beings, even those with part or full animal DNA.

Likewise, animal rights activist groups, such as PETA, are campaigning for sweeping constitutional changes that will see all animals granted the same rights as humans.

On the other hand, meat-eaters are concerned that increasing animal rights could force them to become vegans or switch to lab-grown meats to get their protein fix. Then there is the growing conservative ‘speciesist’ movement that insists that only people with 100% human DNA should be granted human rights or legal personhood.

In response to the heated debate, the big bio-tech firms driving the boom in the elective pre-natal designer DNA industry (now estimated to be worth 80 billion dollars a year), are scrambling to hire professional ethicists to help define their public policies on inter-species genetic engineering, and to lobby legislators to develop business-friendly regulations.

The last time the Valley showed such an interest in ethics professionals was back in 2019, when Alphabet infamously hired, and (mere days later) dismantled, an elite AI Ethics board, intended to advise the tech giant on “how not to be evil” regarding advances in machine learning and algorithmic intelligence. Well, we all know how that turned out, don’t we?

And we’re not even talking about robot rights yet!

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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