A cursory warning was left by renowned physics professor Stephen Hawking regarding a future where a race of superhumans, manipulating their DNA, would taking control of their own evolution. The warning came just before his death in March of this year.
The Washington Post in its article, “Stephen Hawking feared race of ‘superhumans’ able to manipulate their own DNA,” would explain (my emphasis):
Before he died in March, the Cambridge University professor predicted that people this century would gain the capacity to edit human traits such as intelligence and aggression. And he worried that the capacity for genetic engineering would be concentrated in the hands of the wealthy.
To be clear, Professor Hawking wasn’t warning about the technology in and of itself, but its monopolization by a handful of wealthy interests.
The Threat of Technological Monopolies
When we look at any chapter in human history, disparity in technology has always led to tragic episodes of exploitation, violence, atrocities and even genocide. The invention and use of firearms by Western Europeans against tribes everywhere from Asia and Africa to North and South America provide us one look at how huge advantages in technology have been abused against those who lack access to it.
The invention of the atomic bomb gave the United States a period of time where it held a virtual monopoly over nuclear weapons. It eagerly used not one, but two atomic bombs on the already defeated Japanese at the end of World War II. Before America’s nuclear monopoly was finally broken up by first Soviet and then Chinese nuclear weapon tests, the US had considered using further nuclear weapons during the Korean War and at at least two junctures during the Vietnam War.
Today, corporate monopolies over the very sort of biotechnology that will give rise to the race of superhumans Professor Hawking warned about, are already a source of constant, steeply controversial use and abuse.
Whether it is deceptive business practices by large agricultural corporations like Cargill, Monsanto and Bayer peddling unsafe genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or pharmaceutical corporations seizing, then price gouging charity and publicly-funded breakthroughs like gene therapy, we can already see attempts being made to concentrate biotechnology in the hands of the wealthy,