For Jacques Testart, transhumanism is “an infantile ideology that takes advantage of the extraordinary progress of technoscience over the last decade, to bring to light old, archaic myths about the super-intelligent, immortal, invincible human”. Facing Laurent Alexandre, he put forth various positions, knowing that “even though most transhumanist promises are in vain, they will have an impact on society”.
Between repairing and augmenting the human body, the line is set at eugenics, “another word for transhumanism”, as Jacques Testart explains. This is a reality that Laurent Alexandre does not deny, saying: “IVF can be a tool for medicine or augmentation. It is important to distinguish the so-called ‘negative’ eugenics—in which the embryo’s DNA is examined before a decision is made whether or not to implant it— from ‘positive’ eugenics—in which one chooses among several embryos, or even, in the more or less near future, one alters the embryo’s DNA”. But embryo selection, adds the biologist, “allows one to practice ‘negative’ (eliminating, sterilising) eugenics and ‘positive’ (selecting the best, etc.) eugenics simultaneously. And the number and location of embryos outside the body make it incomparably more eugenic than abortion, for example”.
When Laurent Alexandre says that it is important to avoid being left behind by those investing heavily in biotechnology and engage in new technologies on a massive scale, Jacques Testart asserts that “falling behind in the race to the edge can put us ahead in game of survival…” And he calls for a “major social shift”, saying, “People must be given something to dream about other than the contributions of technology and false promises of transhumanism”.
In these cutting-edge fields, “regulations on ethical issues must be done at the global level. It should therefore be up to the UN to organise these citizen conventions on all major controversial issues to define limits with the force of law”, the researcher believes. One major challenge for Dr Laurent Alexandre, who has notes the “dichotomy between the technological revolutions that have engaged humanity for very long and our very short-term political systems. Our governments reason at 15 days, the Chinese government at 50 years. As for companies like the Big Four and BATX (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Xiaomi), it is 1,000 years”.
Jacques Testart is pessimistic about the future: “For the first time, humanity is facing its limits. This is a fundamental emergency that shouldn’t be treated lightly. The problem is that transhumanist ideology is intrinsically linked to the scientific belief—as naive as it is stubborn—in continuous progress”. He is concerned: “Transhumanists completely ignore the environment. They put Homo sapiens on the worktable and tinker with them. They stick electrodes on them, change their genes, etc., but humankind is nothing without nature, the environment, or the community!”
“Science creates just as many problems as it solves. Still, I don’t think it can be stopped”, says Laurent Alexandre. But for Jacques Testart, faced with unknown perspectives, greater awareness is necessary: “No past major shifts compare with what is being experienced now. Kids today addicted to tablets and smartphones. It’s a total change in behaviour. Young people are completely cut off from nature. They are in silico. There will be no memories, no mind. The situation is unprecedented and extremely serious. That is a proven fact. We are very much experiencing a collapse of civilization”.
La Vie, Olivia Elkaim et Jean-Claude Nodé (14/06/2018)