Germinal choice technology is a debatable subset of science, to say the least. Many ethical implications point to the unnatural and immoral boundaries posed by genetically altering a person to achieve desired effects of mental and physical stature. But, some (like Gregory Stock) argue that GCT is a natural part of mental evolution, where the human mind in all its intelligence and ability to change the world in a better fashion makes this evolution of thought and action inevitable and ethical. Gregory Stock and Oliver Sacks both attack this issue from different viewpoints, but agree on the vast possibilities inherent in the mind.
Sacks concentrates on the aspects of the human brain and its amazing capabilities to be receptive and amenable to disabilities, converting these disabilities into even greater abilities in different ways. Stock, looks at the body and its endless capacity for attaining the highest level of brain-functioning, as does Sacks, but his view involves the mediation of scientific intervention of germinal choice technology (GCT) while Sacks reveals the amazing, inherent ability for the brain and body to heal and deal with disability.
In a black and white sense, one could say this a comparison of natural versus unnatural. This is not the case. Both articles deal with evolution and the endless capabilities that the mind has in its store to be used to either help oneself to overcome obstacles or to help others with the information and technology we possess. The only difference of the genetically engineered mind and the mind that has transformed itself to fit a different and difficult set of circumstances is in what the true definition of nature really entails.
To Sacks nature is our endowed traits and to Stock, nature is what we can create with our inherited, collective intelligence. It is up to each individual to decide with their own boundless mind, what can be considered pure nature and to what extent we can realize our part in the role for evolving and innovating due to our very human nature. Stock believes that evolution would have already taken care of human abnormalities, as he explains in his article. He believes, though, that GCT can overcome what is considered problematic in human nature by mimicking nature.
“We have seen too much progress in the intervening decades to be so sure that genetic engineering cannot create superior humans, but we are far from that goal. If the task were easy, natural evolution would have done it already. No such difficulty will keep us from improving average or below average performance. All we have to do is copy nature” (Stock, 6). So, he explains genetic engineering as a natural process, similar to what a high-performing person would possess with natural ability.
Sacks believes, though, that the wonder of the brain’s natural, corrective abilty to overcome problems is the preferred method of his personal ideal of human capabilities. But, although, Sacks brings to light, some very interesting examples of people, who have passed some type of boundary of the mind, that was once considered impossible, this is not the norm. Stock believes that utilizing our human choice to bring about change by using our innate mental talents for innovation is a natural and repeatable process and that GCT is an extension of that evolution of the mind.
The issue here becomes, then, individual choice to which one believes or disbelieves that our imaginations are evolutionary parts of nature and to what extent the power of mental processes should and could be used. Sacks believes that the power of imagination is more significant than scientific intervention while Stocks believes that the mind and all its imagination and powers to heal is noteworthy in its relation to science and healing. Sacks even refers to the natural, unaltered mind as a more higher and personal power in opposition to Stock’s idea of the altered, but corrected mind.
Simple visual imagery such as he [Galton] describes may suffice for the design of a screw, an engine, or a surgical operation, and it may be relatively easy to model these essentially reproductive forms of imagery or to simulate them by constructing video games or virtual realities of various sorts. Such powers may be invaluable, but there is something passive and mechanical and impersonal about them, which makes them utterly different from the higher and more personal powers of the imagination, where there is a continual struggle for concepts and form and meaning, a calling upon all the powers of the self.
Imagination dissolves and transforms, unifies and creates, while drawing upon the “lower” powers of memory and association. It is by such imagination, such “vision,” that we create or construct our individual worlds (Sacks, 59) Sacks, then, argues that construction of our worlds is a part of the natural human existence while the innovative approaches to constructing mind and body with science is passive and mechanical. It can even be postulated that this is a form of the “virtual reality” that he speaks of.
Stock, however, believes in the power of the human innovative spirit and the ability of our minds to continue to create ways in which to help humankind. Unlike Sacks, he believes that scientific intervention to help others is simply an extension of our nature and nature itself, as it resembles. He does not place GCT in a category above natural life and the very essence of it, but simply as a choice for parents to opt for their children or adults with their own shortcomings to be “better”.
It is up to each individual in their own mind and embodiment of this world to choose what is “good” and what is “better”. Sacks is more biased in that he believes that there are lower levels of our mental gifts while Stocks believes our imaginations are boundless. The author’s have made their positions clear and it is up to each person to determine what levels of change (whether scientific of self-taught) each individual wishes to achieve and believe in.
In conclusion, it is a matter of choice in what ways we use our minds and, more specifically imaginations, both today and in the future. We decide what is natural and what is unnatural or intrusive. To put inherited intelligence in a category separate of learned and scientifically-enhanced intelligence is not in congruence with evolution. Simply because Sacks believes that some parts of individual thought process is more personal than others is not a futile argument against GCT.
Likewise, just because Stock does no take note of individual advances made without scientific assistance, does not mean that they are insignificant or dismissable. We can chose to embrace and/or enhance our minds, this is the one freedom that every human being possesses. Both writers touch on the countless ways that our minds can heal and reveal amazing new ways of thought. Whether we want to use our minds to accept new technology is the essence of this argument.