The Brave New World of Artificial Human Embryos

Stem cells can be coaxed to self-assemble into structures resembling human embryos, but the technology has run ahead of ethical scrutiny

Sep 23, 2017
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Novelist Aldous Huxley envisaged a Brave New World in which its citizens were subjected to a wide array of medical, biological, and psychological technologies, ranging from artificial wombs and childhood indoctrination programs to the use of a psychotropic drug called soma.

All of it was designed to make sure that everyone was always happy.  It was happiness of the utilitarian sort, one that could be measured, not one of joy or connected to a sense of beauty, goodness, and truth.

In Huxley’s dystopian state, the words ‘mother and father’ had been made obsolete, and the mere fact of a natural pregnancy was scandalous.  That was fiction.

As this article notes, research on real human embryos is currently “dogged by abortion politics, restricted by funding laws, and limited to supplies from IVF clinics. Now, by growing embryoids instead, scientists see a way around such limits. They are already unleashing the full suite of modern laboratory tools—gene editing, optogenetics, high-speed microscopes—in ways that let them repeat an experiment hundreds of times or, with genetic wizardry, ask a thousand questions at once.”

Of course, this technological tinkering is taking place without any understanding of what a human person is in his fullness, what he ought to be, and thus can blithely proceed unencumbered by anything other than considering the technological obstacles to ‘success’.

Of course, should a successful embryo be created, it will grow in a world still filled with all of the ethical dilemmas that these technologists ignore.  Unless, of course, our world has become too conditioned by our own acceptance of medical, biological, and psychological technologies to act as human persons…

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