From test tube babies to artificial intelligence: how do humans transform what they know about lifeOn July 25th, 1978, Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, was born in Britain, which also marked the successful realization of in vitro artificial pregnancy (IVF) technology
if we can "get rid of" diseases through genetic manipulation, then according to the same principle, we can also "increase" additional resistance to other forms of diseases
sina science and technology news on March 3, Beijing time, according to foreign media reports, whether in the medical field or our ability to "cheat" nature, the development of technology is bringing countless new possibilities. We have transformed many crops and created a more sustainable development model, but applying similar transformation technologies to humans is another matter. Should we do this? If so, how far can these applications go
for most people, the words "man-made" and "life" seem to have meaning only in science fiction movies and dystopia novels. We all know similar stories: lonely scientists created some artificial creatures for friendship or military purposes; This creature began to understand human life; In the end, it took over the earth and pushed the life on earth as we know it to extinction
in the current context around genes and artificial intelligence, the phrase "microcomputer 1 equipped with" artificial life "experimental machine must be dedicated to special machine" seems to appear more and more frequently, which also reflects the reality of our current life. Human society is not only exploring the concept of "creating" life in science fiction, and this trend of thought has not emerged in the past few years. On the contrary, in recent history, there has been a constant debate about this conceptOn July 25th, 1978, Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, was born in Britain, which also marked the successful realization of in vitro artificial pregnancy (IVF) technology. Nowadays, the application of IVF technology has been relatively common - more than 6million babies have been born in this way since Louise Brown was born. However, before Louise Brown was born, this method of fertilizing outside the female body was regarded as a marginal science that interfered with life, and received little support from the media and scientific institutions
Connie Orbach is a science communicator and broadcast producer. In the summer of 2018, as a curator, she launched the 40th Anniversary Exhibition of IVF in the science museum in London, showing the public the controversial history of the technology of the classification of displacement sensors of tensile testing machines. She said, "like everything, there is a floating scale between being seen as useful and fooling around."
from the simplest point of view, IVF is to allow two people who are unable to bear for some reason to have the baby they want, just like others. However, in 1978, the comments surrounding this technology included "test tube baby", "designer baby", and even "Frankenstein science"
"IVF technology in the 1960s may be like gene technology today, but our ideas have changed dramatically over time," Connie Auerbach said. "It seems that people's ideas will change when meaningful changes occur in life."
however, just because an example of creating life turns out to be good, it does not necessarily mean that all attempts in the future will follow suit. Peter mills is the deputy director of Nuffield bioethics in the UK. His work is to investigate the ethical significance of future biomedical research. At present, his team is studying the impact of artificial life on human reproduction and livestock production (artificial farm animals)
a key question raised by Peter mills in his research is about the concept of "normal" - what is the basis for giving things a "normal" state? For example, we have been able to adjust the embryo so that it will not suffer from some genetic disease. This can be said to make embryos "compete fairly" and more likely to become a "normal" human being to survive, rather than living in a "scientifically enhanced" lifestyle
however, at what point will this "fair competition" that can make patients with genetic diseases less and less turn into an "arms race" that introduces additional "Superman" features? If we can "get rid of" diseases through genetic manipulation, then according to the same principle, we can also "increase" additional resistance to other forms of diseases. Considering the cost of vaccination, this seems to be a very wise public health strategy
IVF technology in the 1960s may be like gene technology today, but our ideas have changed dramatically over time
what about adding extra muscle for a person who was born with too little muscle? Further, what about adding extra muscle mass for people who want to become stronger? This does not seem to be a public health issue, but more related to personal choices. Sometimes the demarcation line can be very simple, but at other times, it can be very complex
"one of the things we need to think about is how difficult it is for people to decide not to carry out a certain procedure according to the information we have obtained, such as the information about Down syndrome in prenatal screening," Peter mills explained. "The relevant norms have been changed to limit the number of children with Down syndrome, but it is not far from eliminating those who may have low IQ children."
"there is no problem with changing norms, but we need to change methodically and in a way that takes these changes into account, especially for people in vulnerable positions - those who may be indirectly affected but are not actually involved in these special choices," he added, "An example is that if the number of people with Down syndrome decreases, so there are fewer and fewer people with genetic diseases, what behavioral and resource changes should be made for those who have other developmental needs but may not be able or not be '?"
however, the dialogue around artificial life is not limited to the development of biology. Artificial intelligence is a hot topic in the world of information technology. Many people don't even realize that they are using artificial intelligence as the core technology, which raises ethical issues about the interaction between human beings and human like digital products
Dr. Tony Hirst, a senior lecturer at the UK Open University and an open data expert, is very interested in how the technological systems that humans use every day affect a wider range of human behavior
some people worry that as our relationship with voice assistants and chat robots tends to be harsh and overbearing, this behavior may turn into an attitude towards others. "It sounds a bit like an argument about computer games and violent movies," Tony Hurst said
a view claims that "I just shout at the female voice intelligent assistant in a abusive way, which does not mean that I will do this to my partner", so this behavior will not be transferred. However, the other side's point of view is, "if you treat something in a very human way, to what extent will this behavior shift?"
not long ago, the intelligent voice assistant technology "Google duplex" launched by Google added modal particles such as "e", "en" and "mhmm HMM" to the dialogue, further imitating the real dialogue of human beings. Many people begin to worry about malicious attempts to use this technology, because machines can make people think they are real people in this way
Amazon makes the upper and lower jaws unable to be concentric. Alexa, the company's virtual assistant, has also become big. It is revealed that its "magic word" function can reward children who say "please" and "thank you", and respond to children who have not learned the letter "L" and can only say "awexa". This raises the question of machines making realistic decisions behind children's requests
of course, the positive factors of these two examples are clear - a more powerful digital assistant can save you time and make your children more polite
creating different forms of artificial life has complex ethical implications, and there seems to be no right or wrong answer. Moreover, the impact and repercussions of these technological developments may not be known until they are applied to society
some people worry that as our relationship with voice assistants and chat robots tends to be harsh and overbearing, this behavior may turn into an attitude towards others
no one knows what kind of environment we will be in 40 years later, but if we can learn anything from the story of IVF technology, it may be that the initial views on emerging science are sometimes far fetched and not considered carefully. But similarly, we have never seen such a rapidly changing computing technology as artificial intelligence today, so the concerns and concerns of all aspects should be raised and discussed
Connie Auerbach believes that although the more controversial technologies are still far from being realized, it is still necessary for us to discuss them now in order to plan the future development of these technologies more negatively. "Many of the things we are talking about still have a long way to go," she said. "But similarly, they may appear at some time, so we need to think about taking appropriate regulatory measures at the appropriate time, so that no matter what we decide to do, we should complete it within a certain framework."
"people must be optimistic," Peter mills said. "Generally speaking, people often solve their problems - probably not in the most smooth or least harmful way - but generally speaking, people react to each other in society and are moral."
as we move forward into more fields of artificial life, I hope so! (Ren Tian)
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