Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Americans Fear Superhuman Technology, Study Shows

Americans Fear Superhuman Technology, Study Shows

News Image By PNW Staff August 04, 2016 Share this article:

A new survey released by the Pew Research Center shows that more Americans than not are not on board with technology designed to enhance a human's disease-fighting capability.

The survey that was recently released showed that most Americans were not sure three currently researched technologies were a good idea, especially due to the possibility of their use to enhance human ability without disease. 

Gene editing, brain chips and synthetic blood were the three technologies in question and were brought before certain cross sections of about 4,700 Americans.

The simple survey was given to approximately 4,700 people, while six focus groups of 47 responders were asked more in depth questions.

The study also aimed to find the opinions of those who considered themselves devoutly religious.

Disease vs. Performance Enhancement

One of the biggest divides in opinion centered around the intended use of the technology. The majority of Americans against the use of biomedical technology for disease control seemed to stem from a fear that the same technology will be used to breed super humans and that super human technology would only be available to the super rich. 

Researchers felt that if there was no chance the technology could be what some people perceive as misused, then the study might have been in favor of the latest advances in biotech.

Gene Editing

Using a new method known as CRISPR, scientists have developed technology capable of editing genes in the human embryo to make a child less prone to disease. 

While the technology has never been used on a live human being, 68 percent of survey participants said they were "very worried" or "somewhat worried" about using the new biotech.

When reworded, 49 percent of Americans stated they would be "somewhat enthusiastic" or "very enthusiastic" about using CRISPR.

Asked in a different light, 48 percent of respondents said they would "probably" or "definitely" want the technology used on their own child, while 50 percent said no and two percent were not sure.

Brain Chips

While brain chip technology, also known as neuroprosthetics are currently only available for use on patients suffering from deafness and Parkinson's disease, the technology could be potentially used on people who have no medical need for it and are simply looking to enhance their own cognitive abilities.

Only 34 percent of those surveyed reported being somewhat or very enthusiastic about performance enhancing use of brain chips. About 69 percent surveyed said they were somewhat or very worried about using brain chips to enhance performance.

Seventy-three percent polled said they thought the technology would only initially be available to the affluent in society. The fear seemed to ride on the back of what many already feel is an extreme divide between the rich and the poor.

Synthetic Blood

The idea behind the development of synthetic blood is to eliminate the need for human donors for blood transfusions, according to the Pew Research Center. However, if synthetic blood is developed that can carry significantly higher amounts of oxygen than normal human blood, the technology could give athletes utilizing the technology a big advantage over the competition.

Sixty-three percent of responders reported being somewhat or very worried about the use or perceived "abuse" of synthetic blood while only 36 percent said that they were very or somewhat enthusiastic about its potential to enhance performance. 

Forty-seven percent felt the technology was called for if the blood would not enhance performance in any way and only 28 percent thought that the use of enhanced blood was "appropriate."

Religious Questions

The fervor against super human tech seemed to increase when religion was brought into the equation. When asked how committed they were to the idea that each of the three technologies were meddling with nature inappropriately, those considering themselves highly religious responded as follows:

Gene editing:

63 percent highly committed against
48 percent medium committed against
28 percent low commitment against

Brain chips:

65 percent highly committed against
53 percent medium committed against
36 percent low commitment against

Synthetic blood:

60 percent highly committed against
52 percent medium committed against
36 percent low commitment against

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