Americans Aren’t Thrilled About Becoming Super-Humans
Life + Money

Americans Aren’t Thrilled About Becoming Super-Humans

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Smart chips in the brain, synthetic blood to build strength and gene editing to reduce the risk of illness are not far off, but there’s one surprising stumbling block -- Americans aren’t thrilled about their super-future.

In a new Pew poll about enhancements to the human condition, 66 percent said they wouldn’t want implanted devices “giving them a much improved ability to concentrate and process information” and 63 percent rejected having synthetic blood coursing through their veins even if it could deliver increase strength, speed and stamina.

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The Pew Research Center survey of more than 4,700 respondents found the public – especially those who are highly religious -- wary of what it calls “cutting-edge biomedical technologies that could push the boundaries of human abilities.”

Members of six focus groups Pew assembled to discuss the findings said they worried that the breakthroughs could put humankind on a “slippery slope” to “super humans” or human “robots.”

One 59-year-old woman in Atlanta said, “If it starts to sound Hitler-like, [trying to create] a perfect specimen of man and woman … then people who are not perfect might be treated badly.”

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And some 73 percent worried that enhancements would increase the gulf between haves and have-nots because they would at least initially be available to only the wealthy. And 63 percent said that those who received synthetic blood transfusions that could make them more physically powerful would feels superior to those who still had good old red blood pumping through their hearts.

The survey found more positive responses to the questions about artificial organs and curing cancer. Some 81 percent said that in 50 years they expect artificial organs to be widely available and cancer to be vanquished.