Leave it to the military to come up with something like this. I’ll admit, some of their past projects have been cool (like the heat ray for instance…I still want one) and others have lent themselves to hours of gut busting hilarity (gay bomb anyone?). But this…this is just…*shudders*
According to Engadget, the Department of Defense is setting up research to look into regrowing body parts. You know, like some lizards and worms do.
Except humans aren’t lizards or worms. Well…some humans are worms, but not in the literal sense.
The DoD is obviously out to create a super soldier. They’ve already sunk money into research that will keep soldiers from feeling the effects of fatigue so they can stay in the field longer with less sleep (never mind those harmful results of sleep deprivation…what’s a little psychosis amongst friends). They’re also doing research on advanced robotic limb replacements that will have all the fine motor skills that real limbs do…and then some.
They’re going to do this under the cover of helping soldiers who have lost limbs or have been shot. But let’s face facts, since the end of the draft they’ve been having a hard time recruiting kids, and with the never ending war going on, they’re having an even harder time getting and keeping soldiers. So if your troops can spontaneously regenerate limbs (which, I have to admit, is cool in an “I used to read X-men and wish I was a mutant with powers” sort of way), then you won’t have to worry about shortages due to lost limbs. Of course this research could be used to create perfect-match organs for people desperately in need of transplants, but, and I’m just being honest here, that sort of technology would only be available to the richest of the rich who can afford it. The other 90% of people who need it will have to pray their insurance will cover it or hope that some charity will take pity on them and help.
Now, the part that really scares me (aside from the images from Terminator II-when the liquid cyborg kept regenerating himself after being shot in the head-that keep playing in my mind), is that this sort of ability is genetic. Salamanders don’t learn how to regenerate. They just do. It’s part of their DNA. For this sort of technology to be used in the military, they’d have to find a way to alter each soldier’s genetic structure, and hope that there are no unintended consequences (like a squid-soldier who has seven arms). Doing each individual as they come in would be costly, and inefficient. And while the government and military seem to only function when they are costly and inefficient, eventually they are going to start “testing” on the general public. Which makes me think that No Child Left Behind will become No Fetus Left Unaltered after a time. It will be voluntary at first, of course, but then it will become compulsory. Or worse, they’ll just do it without the mother’s permission anyway. She can’t say anything about it once the baby is here right?
Yeah I know, that’s worst case scenario, gloom and doom type talk…but let’s be honest, if they find a way to do this, it won’t be long before this sort of thing plays itself out. We’re a country where the vast majority of our tax dollars go to military spending (more than education and health care combined in fact). We are, essentially, a military state. Our only recourse, our only known way to assert our will, has been through force. Since the first settlers dropped anchor. Hell, since the Conquistadors dropped anchor. If we backed off our military spending, we’d eventually be seen as the paper tiger we are. If African countries got themselves together and organised, they’d make us their bitch (talk about reparations). Hell, eastern Europe could take us, as disorganised and that area is. So we have to keep spending. Making out military bigger, stronger, faster (and whatever else they said in the beginning of the 6 Million Dollar Man).
Can you see the snowball?
Ok, I admit, I sound like a crazed conspiracy theorist. And I’m honestly not. I just like seeing the pros and cons of things and this has a lot of cons. Like a lot a lot. It’s not like our government and military are renown for their ethics. Especially when it comes to the medical field.
Anyhow, I can’t see this sort of technology actually being usable anytime in the foreseeable future. And those ranting, raving, foaming at the mouth, ultra religious right wingers wouldn’t allow for experiments to be performed on embryos, especially not when it comes to tampering with DNA and genetics. They’d see it as playing God and would raise Hell (how ironic) like no one’s business. Huh…maybe they have a use after all.