Controversial Technology

01/12/2017 10:37

Technology is growing at an exponential rate and with this mass expansion we’re also seeing certain boundaries being pushed. Some would argue this is a natural part of evolution and is necessary for the growth of science, whilst others believe there to be moral guidelines which we must abide by. Below are few examples of technologies which have sparked the most debate amongst the general public, as well as the scientific community.

Embryonic stem cell research
Whilst embryonic stem cell research offers to protect human life, it is also terminating life at the stage every great scholar, athlete, and scientist began. ESCs are predominantly made from cells found in a human blastula, one of the initial stages of human life. A fertilised egg progresses to become a blastula, which are only able to survive for a short period of time before it must be implanted in a womb to then grow and develop. Blastulasi used in research are typically made artificially in a laboratory or fertility clinic. The information gained from this kind of research has contributed significantly towards researching spinal cord injuries, as well as debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The moral dilemma Embryonic stem cell research poses is whether it carries on, and we to prevent or alleviate suffering, or it is stopped to respect the value of human life.

Cryogenic freezing
Cryonics uses temperatures below −130°C, called cryopreservation, in the pursuit of preserving brain information to allow future revival of the cryopreserved person. Once a person has been legally declared as dead, the cryonic preservation company are alerted, they then dispatch a response team to attempt to keep the person's blood circulating throughout their body. The body is packed in ice and injected with various chemicals to reduce blood clotting and cell damage. The controversial procedure has gradually gained more media attention, most recently in the case of a 14-year-old girl who died of cancer(she could not be named for legal reasons). She was cryogenically frozen in the hope that she could be “woken up” and cured in the future after winning a landmark court case in her final days. In a compelling letter to the court, she said: “I don’t want to die but I know I am going to...I want to live longer...I want to have this chance.” However much hope of eternal life cryogenic freezing gives us, critics have identified many issues with the procedure- Namely, if a person’s body is cooled lower than -5C the water inside their cells freezes and creates ice crystals. As ice is less dense than liquid water, it takes up more space. Due to this the crystals punch through the cell membranes causing severe damage.

Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is no longer the talking tin cans we may have envisioned as children, these are now advanced, perceptive, potentially destructive machines that only grow increasingly more intelligent the longer they are around us. And while most would agree that there is no reason to expect AI to become intentionally benevolent or malevolent, experts have put forward two scenarios most likely to result in AI causing us harm. The AI could be instructed to commit a devastating act: self-governing weapons are artificial intelligence systems that are programmed to kill. In the wrong hands, this technology could easily cause mass injuries or even deaths. Alternatively, the AI is instructed to help us, but it develops a destructive method for doing so: This can happen whenever we fail to fully align the AI’s logic with ours, which is by no means an easy task. If you ask an obedient intelligent plane to take you to another country, it might do so by flying through dangerously high and low altitudes, through civilian areas and so on.

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