An underlying but yet still prominent debate in today’s society has to do with the act of genetic enhancements and genetic engineering. It is a topic of discussion concerning the morality behind changing a person’s physical traits in order to better fit an image versus helping a person with a disability, or in any number of other ways. While I was aware of genetic engineering on corn or other foods, I have never paid much attention to the developing technology that could genetically engineer humans, until recently. Reading Partials by Dan Wells has opened my eyes to more details in the debate of genetic engineering.
It could be possible in the near future that humans can choose to genetically enhance themselves to have more favorable physical traits. The technology is in the works to manipulate the specific genes in a baby or person in general to prevent autism, or Alzheimer’s, or give them blue eyes, or make sure they are deaf like their parents. I am now fully invested in the morality and consequences of such genetic engineering. While this may sound appealing, Partials shows how this can go wrong. When the government created genetically enhanced war machines called Partials, their plan backfired and the Partials ended up being more valued and dangerous to the human race than non-genetically enhanced humans were. I would love to be super athletic or have the most desired traits a person can have, but it’s unnatural. Sure it would be great to have all the traits we’ve always dreamed of having, but Partials has shown me this will inevitably create an even larger divide in today’s society, which is the last thing we need. Our world is already divided in every topic you can think of, do we really want to add genetic enhancement to that list? I sure don’t. And I have Dan Wells to thank for that new perspective.
Wells, Dan. Partials. New York, Balzer Bray, 2012.
Being an aspiring chemical engineer at GT, I would say science is a huge part of my life. I love dystopian novels and I’m devoted to science, so I think the connection between science and dystopian life is extremely compelling. As today’s society becomes more technologically advanced, I am intrigued to know at what point is a society beginning to strive for genetic enhancement rather than focusing on improvements to quality of life. This is easily seen in my independent reading book, Partials by Dan Wells. Wells describes a society where genetically engineered “war machines” turned against the human race and took out the majority of the population, leaving few survivors. These enhanced creatures, called Partials, were created in order to help the humans win a war against other humans. I am enticed by the thought of whether creating these Partials was morally justified, or just an immoral attempt at perfection. The area between morally right and wrong is grey and shifts with the current social structure, but I am fascinated in what defines right versus wrong.
It’s very interesting to me that so many dystopian novels incorporate scientific mishaps in their novels/movies/TV series. I believe it’s such a common theme because it reflects the scientific advancements in our society today. In today’s world, we are capable of alternating DNA sequences and performing genetic modifications. Scientific professionals are discussing the manipulation of DNA in order to correct genes that may cause diseases. Others, however, are wanting to push the limits of science and splice genes in order to make sure that future offspring will have certain physical traits, possibly even higher levels of physical and intellectual performance.
While all of this science seems inspiring and inventive, what stops us from creating creatures like the Partials and having a disaster ridden world on our hands? What crosses the line between helping society and genetic perfection? What is morally wrong in the spiritual, religious sense? Is it acceptable to proceed with these modifications if you don’t have spiritually restrictive beliefs? Where does the line lie between science and playing God? I don’t have answers to any of these questions, but I would love to discover different opinions on the topic after some research.