Transhuman Babies and Human Pariahs 193
Nick Bostrom72 and James Hughes73 have shaped the movements’ modern intellectual foundations
and promoted the benefits that Transhumanism may bring to humanity at large.74 Bostrom, for
example, asserts that the use of technologies such as genetic engineering would allow humanity to
eliminate disease and needless suffering75—a core Transhumanist tenet.76
Indeed, new genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR can open the door to the
achievement of some Transhumanist goals, such as the elimination of disease.77 For example,
CRISPR has shown promise in editing HIV out of human cells78 and in curing sickle-cell disease.79
The technology is so promising in the treatment of disease that on June 21, 2016, the National
Institutes of Health approved a proposal for a human clinical trial employing CRISPR to treat three
types of cancer.80
However, despite the significant medical benefits the technology could bring, it could also
be used to further controversial Transhumanist ideals. Transhumanist beliefs range from that of
general improvement of the human condition81 to that of achievement of a state of “
posthumanity,” which is the existence of “future human beings whose basic capacities so radically
exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current
standards.”82 Genetic engineering technologies can advance to the point that they could enable the
achievement of Transhumanist goals such as human immortality,83 great increase in human
intelligence84 and other more “cosmetic” improvements, such as the ability to see infrared
Not surprisingly, the “enhancement” goals of Transhumanism have been rejected by
bioethicists, as well as law and policy scholars. Some opponents argue that Transhumanism is a
“hubristic form of humanism, replacing the worship of God with the worship of man.”86 Other
72 See Bostrom, supra note 63.
73 See James Hughes, INSTITUTE FOR ETHICS AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES,
http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/bio/hughes (last visited May 12, 2017).
74 Nick Bostrom, Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective, 37 J. OF VALUE INQUIRY 493
75 Nick Bostrom, Ethical Issues for the Twenty-First Century; Transhumanist Values, 4 REV. CONTEMP. PHIL. 3
(May 2005), http://www.nickbostrom.com/ethics/values.pdf. See also Humanity+, Transhumanist FAQ,
http://humanityplus.org/philosophy/transhumanist-faq/ (last visited Apr. 29, 2017).
77 See Bostrom, supra note 75.
78 See generally Gang Want, Na Zhao, Ben Berkout & Atze T Das, CRISPR-Cas9 Can Inhibit HIV-1 Replication but
NHEJ Repair Facilitates Virus Escape, 24 MOLECULAR THERAPY 522 (2016).
79 Begley, supra note 12.
80 Shelly Fan, CRISPR Targets Cancer in First Human Trial – What You Need to Know, SINGULARITY HUB (June
26, 2016), http://singularityhub.com/2016/06/26/75-crispr-targets-cancer-in-first-human-trial-what-you-need-to-
know/. See also, Preetika Rana, China Pushes Ahead With Human Gene-Editing Trials, WALL ST. J. (Apr. 28,
81 See generally Bostrom, supra note 75.
82 See Transhumanist FAQ, supra note 75.
83 Olivia Solon, All Aboard the Immortality Bus: The Man Who Says Tech Will Help Us Live Forever, GUARDIAN
(June 16, 2016), https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/16/transhumanist-party-immortality-zoltan-
84 See Mission: What is the Mission of Humanity+?, HUMANITY+, http://humanityplus.org/about/mission/ (last
visited May 12, 2017). See also Bostrom, supra note 75, at 3, 8.
85 Bostrom, supra note 75, at 7.
86 James Hughes, The Politics of Transhumanism and the Techno-Millennial Imagination, 47 ZYGON 757, 770