Reporting the "Yuck Factor" on Human Enhancement


I reported on the Human Enhancement and Human Rights conference last week. While I did note that some of the presenters' ideas were, shall we say, a bit eccentric, I spent my time mostly at the sessions devoted chiefly to ethics and policy. Most of the conference was spent discussing issues such as whether or not it is ethical to enhancement the health and intelligence of one's children.

Will Saletan, over at, evidently got to some sessions that I missed and covered more of the far out and just plain odd goings-on at the conference. For example, Saletan cited one presenter who discussed current body modification techniques including a particularly strange guy who has resorted to surgery and tatoos to look like a cat. This aficionado of extreme body modification calls himself Stalkingcat. Clearly "enhancement" is in the eye of the beholder. Of course, most people use cosmetic surgery to enhance themselves to look younger or more conventionally beautiful.

Anyway, as odd as it is (and it is odd), is there anything morally wrong with wanting to look like a cat? After all other cultures have engaged in very similar body modifications. There have always been oddballs, but my bet is that most people will be happy to use biomedical techniques to live longer healthier lives, not transform themselves into cat people. Look, freaks are only news because they are freaks, not because they actually represent the future of human enhancement. Still, it's an amusing article.