A debate over genetically modified food - so-called Frankenfood - has been going on for years, but now some Chicago area authors are looking farther into the future at what kind of Frankencreatures might be headed our way.
Stephen Asma, a Columbia College Chicago philosophy professor and author of On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears, has traced the evolving concept of monsters over the ages and wonders where we are headed.
"What are the monsters that the new kinds of biotechnology are bringing to us?" Asma asks. "The old Frankenstein story everybody knows, but the sort of application of this Frankenstein syndrome today is something that I don't think any generation before has had any experience with. The fact that you can get into the genome and manipulate it in such incredible ways makes us very frightened about what kind of God-playing we might be doing."
Lori Andrews, a law professor in Chicago and the director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology at the Illinois Institute of Technology as well author of such bio-tech thrillers as Immunity and The Silent Assassin, foresees the possibility of a "snip and run industry" in which people would try to snip a bit of hair from a celebrity to create a child with that celebrity's traits.
Of course, that doesn't take into account the fact that a lot of today's celebrities got financial or other head starts from their parents that you can't get by pilfering strands of DNA.
And even a snip and run industry might seem tame compared with the possibility of a step beyond cloning: the creation of genetically superior superhumans who don't see much need for keeping the rest of us on the planet, except in servile roles.
But maybe they could do a few things we can't seem to manage on our own, like run truthful political campaigns based solely on significant issues.
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