Brenda Cooper

Bioethical Issues: All in a Day’s Work

Yes, this is where the futurist speaker and the writer in me get all tingly….

I spent all day working on my next futurist presentation.  After all, my last slide deck was made BEFORE the election and the recession and all that change.  So I’m talking about three topics – demographics, medicine, and the environment.  My medicine research dug up a few interesting things, some not-so-palatable….

So on the genetic engineering and biomedical front:

I found a story about a “cancer-free girl” – or more accurately, a baby who was screened before implantation for a bed cancer gene, and so won’t have the same 70 to 80% of getting breast cancer as her mother and grandmother.  Now – on this one, I’m having trouble sympathizing with the people questioning the morality.  Why wouldn’t you screen for something like that?  I know a woman who is having to watch her child slowly die because even after she and her husband were genetically screened against a common family gene, it popped up. It is a most-not-pleasant experience, and seems like a good thing for science to save us from.

A fertility clinic is LA promised to let parents choose eye color, gender, and the like. They withdrew their offering after massive protests.  Sorry.  I’ve been reading science fiction too long, I guess.  What’s to protest?

I also found the U-BOT 5, a bot being designed at the University of Massachusetts with the idea of standing in for absent us for elder-care (or maybe – by the time it’s commercially available – being my elder-care).  This could be elder abuse, at least unless they dress it better and give it a friendlier face. Althoughm if you get the demographics, we’re going to need something like this.  Japan has cuter one, also designed for elder-care, called Wakamaru.

I did find a totally protestable bioethics issue:  The Chinese Death Bus. Talk about the nightmare-inducing side of bioethics.  Who snuck real-life horror into my science fictional world?

Anyway, we’ll have a lot to think about in the future.  By the way, as I searched all of these topics, I found an awful lot of references to stuff “that used to in the realm of science fiction.”  So lets hurry up and make up the light side of our future!  Write on!

5 Responses so far

  1. 1. Louise Marley

    The Death Buses are too horrible–institutionalizing state-sponsored murder? Sounds like the darkest sf possible.

    I need to pick your brain for medical research. You’re just so damn good.

  2. 2. brenda

    You probably need a doctor instead of me! I thought the death buses had to be a spoof, but I found a few references to them. I’m hoping I still find I’ve been fooled and they aren’t really happening. I’d rather be red faced than have them exist.

  3. 3. Kim Sannes

    Human genetic articles often remind me of a story by Heinlein, in which we followed the life of a genetic “control” in a world of modified or screened humans. I don’t recall the title at the moment.

    Looking at that photo of U-Bot 5, it looks like he is punching the old woman while she is down. Somehow those “fists” don’t look friendly.

    The death bus article makes Niven look like he was close, if not dead on, in predicting this aspect of the future. Hopefully we never adopt this practice in the western world.

  4. 4. brenda

    Yes, I did think of Larry when I saw that article. He has been right about a lot things — which worries me since some parts of his futures are bleak. For example, he predicted an end to travel because of hassle and terrorism, and he may be close to right. That and the aerospace industry being in trouble. Anyway, I too hope we don’t see those buses!

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