Image by The U.S Army
At the start of the 1970′s TV series 6 Million Dollar Man, Oscar Goldman talks about Steve Austin, the world’s first Bionic man, in reverent tones, “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology … better than he was before … stronger, faster”. But as so often is the case, the stuff of science fiction eventually becomes reality. In fact I was only telepathically talking about this very subject with my android friend just the other day.
The US military are working on developing exoskeletons and bionic limbs to make soldiers stronger and enable them to carry heavier weapons. But even more controversial is their experiments on genetically modifying soldiers to enable them to run faster and work for longer on less sleep and less food.
It’s interesting to consider what implications this might have for the rest of us? The Christopher Dorner affair is an example of what can happen when a highly trained and heavily armed man becomes mentally disturbed and goes on a killing rampage. Will the creation of superhuman fighting machines provide us with more Christopher Dorner incidents?
People who work in the military often suffer from psychological issues as a result of what they have been through and observed. But perhaps we’ll be able to solve this by genetically programming people to become emotionally immune.
How far will we take human manipulation? Might we become in danger of manipulating people so much that they start losing their identity and become dehumanised? Are we trying to turn humans into machines, while perversely technology companies strive to make machines more human?
Another question is when and how gene manipulation will be used for none-military purposes. One of the experiments being carried out is to turn fat into energy. As Professor Gill Garrow at Chicago University explains, “finding that metabolic switch would wipe out the 40 billion pound diet industry in a heartbeat” (a heartbeat that could potentially be produced by a mechanical plastic bionic heart). So the US army could end up destroying Doctor Gillian Mckeith. This can’t be allowed to happen!
It is even suggested that gene manipulation will enable severed or destroyed limbs to regrow. Therefore, the likelihood of needing emergency medical care should decrease, reducing military kit insurance claims, and the need for granted leave and convalescence.
Of course, the subject of genetic modification is a controversial one. Certain people are ardently against genetic modification in crops, so how will US citizens react to the concept of genetically modified soldiers? I certainly wouldn’t eat one; I prefer my soldiers organic.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
- License: Creative Commons image source
David Eagle is a freelance radio producer, writer, voice over artist and member of a popular British folk group. He also writes for JBI Insurance.