In the early 1990s, an author named Dougal Dixon wrote a book called Man After Man, an Anthropology of the Future. The book was clearly conjectural in nature. In it, Dixon discussed ways in which human genetics might be manipulated to create “people” who could perform various tasks or work in particular environments. Two illustrations from the book are shown below. On the left is a Vaccumorph, an individual engineered to work in deep space without any external support such as a space suit or oxygen. On the right is the Aquamorph, created to exist in the deep sea and breathe using gills.
As far-fetched as these examples may seem, there is no telling what the future may hold. Here are some questions to consider.
1. If such creatures could be created, where would the genetic material come from? What portion of the population would be the “donors?” Would you donate your DNA?
2. Since these beings would be basically “human” what do you think their social and legal status should be. If they could breed successfully, what about their offspring? Would that ability make them a different species?
3. Would you support the creation of creatures who could work in mines, in high altitudes, in deserts, in rain forests, underwater, or even in the air? What about a being especially engineered to rescue victims of natural or man-made disasters? Clearly, they would do disagreeable tasks that we don’t want to do. Support your arguments with references.
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