Speaking of Alvin Toffler, a recent op/ed piece by him and his wife, Heidi, reminded me to follow up on my essay of last July, in which I commented that, with the breaking of the genetic code, we are very likely in the midst of a fourth great scientific revolution. Toffler adds to my unease about Virginia Postrel’s dynamist superiority with his prediction of the impending merger of biotechnology and genetics with the new digital technologies in what he calls “biodigital convergence”. I’ll spare you the details of the manipulative possibilities this might hold for mankind, but many of them do not fit the structural paradigms or moral order of the industrial age we are now leaving.
I’m told that I shouldn’t be worried about the implications for the human condition, that support for open-ended process won’t foreclose debate on the moral questions, and that the “techno-utopians”, as Dinesh D’Souza calls them, will not pursue such innovations as “designer children” without extensive policy debate. But I also know that these techno-utopians have not adequately addressed my concerns and I’m told by some of them that the concerns are subjective, devoid of logic, involve religious questions, and therefore provide no basis for discussion.
In The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis described the end game of man’s conquest of nature: “What we call man’s power over nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with nature as the instrument…” It’s time we had some serious debate about where this revolution is leading us and whether or not we want to go there.