Below is one of the most cogent student reactions we received to our Sept 07, 2011, Future of Humanity Panel with Brad Allenby, Steve Fuller, & Dan Sarewitz.
Shari Esquenazi <email@example.com> is an undergraduate at UNT and wrote this piece for her Judaic Religion and Philosophy class with Prof. Martin Yaffe.
The seminar given on September 7th, 2011, in Wooten Hall featuring the three visiting professors was more interesting than I had imagined it could ever be.
It began as Daniel Sarowitz, Braden Allenby, and Steve Fuller introduced themselves to an auditorium full of students who were eager for extra credit as my friends and I whispered about how these men were each dressed almost as if they had just walked out of 1974.
The first gentleman, Daniel Sarowitz (Arizona State), introduced the text that he & his colleague, Brad Allenby, had been cooperatively involved in and explained that it would be for sale after the assembly. He briefly hinted at the topics for the seminar and then retreated to his seat on the floor (for he had generously given his chair to a student who was standing in the back of the auditorium). He took off his shoes and made himself at home as he invited the second speaker to the floor.
Braden Allenby (Arizona State) is a burly man, so burly that I was half expecting him to talk about home improvement. He began talking about human enhancement, first asking us if we had any inclination in regard to where one should draw the line when it comes to enhancing ourselves to be more proficient. We drink coffee, take medicine, drugs, and whatever else we can get our hands on in order to help boost our grades and performance in the athletic and professional worlds. He certainly made me contemplate about how it is almost a disadvantage to not drink caffeinated beverages or take a pill to help me study, and I believe that was the general influence on his audience. I observed around the room as he concluded his sermon only to see the almost hypnotized expressions on the faces of my peers. The final subject he discussed was that there are currently mind control medications and technologies in development that will be applied to students, soldiers, and other individuals in situations where controlling their minds would be particularly beneficial to another individual or group.
Finally, Professor Fuller (Warwick Univ, UK) took to the floor and began discussing the importance of animals to human beings, and how we should focus on repairing the planet because as of now we are watching idly as the world as we know it collapses. Our efforts to study detrimental processes like global warming are almost null because by the time we think we have something figured out, everything changes.
How can we fix something if we do not understand it in the first place? In order to begin fixing the problems which face us as human beings and our home, the earth, we must collaborate as a whole with experts from a variety of studies because only then can we take a step back and see the big picture and attack every part in order to resolve it.
It helped me realize that life as I know it is becoming increasingly more like a science fiction program. I have always felt that I have lived a pretty technological lifestyle, but the technologies of which I currently make use cannot possibly compare to the technologies to come. Professor Allenby spoke of technologies which can determine and alter (if desired) the eye color and gender of your children during the earliest stages of conception, technologies which can hack a human brain and scour for ultra-private information.