Preserving Humanity in the Biotech Century

by Jennifer Lahl, CBC President on December 16, 2020

Dear friends,

As I reflect on the work of the Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC) over these last 20 years, I am amazed at all that we have been able to accomplish because of your commitment to our shared human future.

CBC entered what has been called “the biotech century” in 2000. At that time, Dolly the Sheep had just been cloned, ushering in the stem cell and cloning debate. The controversial bioethicist Peter Singer had been recruited from Australia to teach at Princeton University. Bill Joy, then cofounder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystem, had authored an alarming essay, Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us, in Wired, raising his concerns for the human future with an unleashing of advancements in nanotechnology, robots, and artificial intelligence (AI). And the transhumanism movement was taking on new issues around cybernetics, the integration of technology into our bodies, pushing the envelope on life extension. Still our challenge is to have a robust answer to the question, “What does it mean to be human?”

Fast forward to today in 2020. Some scientists have claimed to have cloned a human embryo, though these reports remain unsubstantiated. Peter Singer remains teaching bioethics at Princeton, pushing his utilitarian ethics, and the new face of the future is smarter and smarter, and smaller technology that is being used to replace human efforts in the area of robotics, AI, and nanotech. The Silicon Valley’s Singularity University regular hosts speakers like Ray Kurzeil and Yuval Harari, raising questions like, “If we will be godlike, which god will we be like?”

It is for these pressing questions facing us that the CBC exists to demand that advancements in science and technology and medicine do not undermine the complexity and beauty of humanity. We work so that we remain human, truly human, considering emerging biotechnological advancements.

As an educational nonprofit, we seek to educate you first as well as other key stakeholders in these great debates. Our lawmakers. The media. And the greater public at large. There truly is no other voice out there doing what we do and doing it the way we do it. We have intentionally sought to educate through a variety of platforms from maintaining a content rich website, to our documentary filmmaking, engaging the media as well as our policy makers, and organizing events and campaigns to build consensus and coalitions.

We’ve spent the last 20 years tirelessly advocating for our shared human dignity and have reached thousands of people all over the globe with our stories. Will you help us reach even more in the next 20 years?

For the sake of the human race,

Jennifer

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