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Eugenics/Genetic Engineering

Matthias Russell

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Report this Oct. 15 2010, 7:32 pm


Arik Soong argued the problem with genetic engineering wasn’t the technology but the inability to use it wisely.  By the 24th century, the UFP allowed it to correct genetic medical conditions but the enhanced were banned from Starfleet.  Obviously the Dominion and Suliban abused the technology and set a terrible precedence but the Denobulans used the technology in a favorable way.


 


If we do evolve and humans are weaker and live shorter lives than other Federation races, why should this be an ethical no-no?  Why shouldn’t Star Trek humanity be allowed to better themselves to compete with other races, if not each other under strictly regulated processes?  Is fear of another Khan the only reason?

Vorta_the_point

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Report this Oct. 15 2010, 7:39 pm

I think the problem is where to draw the line; correcting genetic defects should be a desirable goal, but enhancing people beyond that is a bit of a difficult issue.


I personally would argue that enhanced life span, intellect, health and the reduction of pain would be desirable goals, but it should be heavily regulated by the Federation government to ensure that it does not become out of control and lead to another Khan scenario.

UNTRugby

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Report this Oct. 15 2010, 7:48 pm

Quote: Matthias Russell @ Oct. 15 2010, 7:32 pm

If we do evolve and humans are weaker and live shorter lives than other Federation races, why should this be an ethical no-no?  Why shouldn’t Star Trek humanity be allowed to better themselves to compete with other races, if not each other under strictly regulated processes?  Is fear of another Khan the only reason?


I dont think were trying to "compete" with other races. Vulcans are stronger, faster and live longer by evolution not by genetic enhancement. Humans have strengths the other races dont have. The only reason all the other races in trek are so powerful is becuase it would be hard to create drama with a "weaker" race, just like how the ferengi failed to become a real trek villain

OtakuJo

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Report this Oct. 15 2010, 11:00 pm

The Ferengi have their own unique strengths also!

Matthias -- a very interesting question. I once saw an old poster from the 19th century that was totally expounding on the virtues of eugenics. It was fascinating to see!

In "correcting genetic defects", I can see the debate raging red hot on what exactly constitutes a "genetic defect" to begin with. Certainly, medical conditions -- ALD, Huntington's Disease etc -- that would end up being terminal would be such a thing. But what of for example congenital deafness, albinism, Down's Syndrome, autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD, dwarfism... and any number of other traits that have been associated with genetic factors -- Some people see these as "defects" while others are of course horrified by such a designation and insist of course that to "correct" a person's genes in such cases is more destructive than to leave them be.

We as a society of course also might once have put homosexuality in this group.

For strengthening -- essentially "augmenting" -- our population, this also raises some very interesting questions which cannot be adequately answered without first defining some particular perameters.

For instance, do we assume that genetic manipulation is now a risk-free process? Are we talking about the entire population or just a select few? In making such a process legal or even ILLegal, what safeguards have we put in place to prevent GE based discrimination against individuals and groups??

As to the validity of the Eugenics Wars as a justification for such a position, this is also a complex issue. On the one hand, it does seem based quite substantially on historical paranoia. On the other, much of what we pass on from history is based on the principle of non-repetition. Those who ignore or forget their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. And so on.

As a principle, the ban on genetic engineering in humans is valid. As a practically applicable law, it is a good deal more complicated. Decisions should reflect this complexity, at least until society has developed enough to handle the various repercussions of whatever it decides.

Have you ever danced with a Tribble in the pale moonlight?

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 7:21 pm

I always thought the ban on genetic engineering was overlooked in Star Trek too much.
It's a little crazy that all the 150+ worlds of the Federation agree to the band, no matter what specific examples there may be of bad outcomes (like Khan or Augments or Suliban, etc)

There are any number of worlds that have successfully integrated Genetic Engineering into their societies:
Denobulans
the colony in TNG episode Masterpiece Society
the genetically engineered children at the Darwin Genetic Research Station on Gagarin IV in TNG episode Unnatural Selection

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 7:24 pm

I think Star Trek has always avoided the issue as much as possible just because Roddenberry had expressed the desire for the show to be about the human condition, not the super-human condition.

Maybe even why he green-lighted the Space Seed episode to "explain" why there was no genetic engineering in the future represented in Star Trek

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 7:25 pm

Genetic Engineering was handled a lot more in books, with quite a few races encountered that had advanced genetic engineering abilities.

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 7:33 pm

Also because the show was trying to show the human condition, there were no humans shown with "supernatural" abilities.

Except for Doctor Miranda Jones in the TOS episode Is There in Truth No Beauty?
I always found it interesting that she was the only human we've seen with telepathic abilities (and not just esper abilities like Gary Mitchell had).

Was it just a coincidence that she also happen to be blind?

It's always been a little theory of mine (unfounded in any story) that Miranda Jones was another "failed" attempt at genetic engineering. It gave her remarkable telepathic abilities that no other human had, but it also unexpectedly caused her blindness. And that is why she spent many years studying with the Vulcans to control her abilities: because no human knew how to handle it and she also had to overcome the unwanted side-effects of her genetic engineering.

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 7:35 pm

and I guess Flint (immortal in TOS Requiem for Methuselah) was also a "super-human"
and obviously not the product of genetic engineering

but I don't want to distract from the topic of genetic engineering

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 7:42 pm

How was it that the Darwin Genetic Research Station was allowed to genetically engineer children?

Maybe the children there were also products of illegal genetic engineering and the Federation created the station to study them as a way of getting some good out of their lives, since they already existed.

Sort of like the work that Patrick, Jack, Sarina, and Lauren (from DS9 Statistical Probabilities and Chrysalis) might do at their institution.

Data Logan

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 7:48 pm

I've always thought the plight of the genetic engineered on Star Trek was quite a bit like that of the telepaths on Babylon 5.

I hope that the genetic engineered on ST will eventually overcome the ridiculous stigmatism against them and be welcomed in as normal members of society
like the telepaths on B5 overcame (albeit by revolt) their requirement to be in the Psi Corp and became normal members of society by the timeframe of Crusade

OtakuJo

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Report this Oct. 16 2010, 11:13 pm

@ Data Logan: Check out the "Edit" button!! ^_^

That said, you do have some good points.
In the the case of Star Trek, GE people do have one key thing in common: Whatever happened was not their choice. And some of the effects of the ban are indeed tantamount to discrimination.

Have you ever danced with a Tribble in the pale moonlight?

Matthias Russell

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Report this Nov. 29 2010, 11:36 am

If a race is dependant or heavily involved in genetic engineering, do they have to give it up to join the federation?

miklamar

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Report this Dec. 02 2010, 2:32 am

Genetic engineering was allowed among Federation populations in some cases, such as to prevent birth defects, as on a couple of Voyager episodes. However, the Fed frowned upon "enhancing" a child's abilities with genetic engineering.


Var Miklama--Zakdorn, engineer. "A sound mind in a FULL body!" "Time, like latinum, is a limited quantity in the galaxy."

TyrThunor

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Report this Feb. 09 2011, 1:49 pm

Corrective procedures would be the exception rather than the norm. Basically unless you were of mixed species, you would have been forced with average genes. Also there is no doubt that joining the federation meant that there would be no allowance beyond what the fed already had.

Wierdly enough I've always questioned whether or not there are quotas in the federation.

I.E. there can only be so many vulcan captains etcera. Otherwise races better suited for star fleet would dominate command.

Also it is worth mentioning although vulcans live much longer than us, they seem to have a much lower rate of reproduction. As of 2258 there were only 7 billion vucanians on vulcan.
While the human population of this time would have to be 100 billion plus.

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