Some guy predicted that we’ll be seeing more and more enhanced humans in the near future. Now who wouldn’t like the ability to run super-fast, lift a couple of tons, be able to hear or smell something for quite a distance, be more well-hung than the average guy or even know what someone is thinking? We all want an enhancement one way or another but the problem is, what if we can’t? What if we can’t afford having a genetic or cybernetic enhancement when the person that could, gets top billing in the employment or promotion line? What happens to the world when the powers at be (that would be the top corporations) will prefer those with physical or mental traits in order to extend their bottom line? Which they surely will, knowingly or not.
That’s more the premise of 1997 Ethan Hawke starrer, Gattaca than the X-Men. Such a thing was also discussed in 2013’s Man of Steel wherein naturally conceived and born Kryptonians were taboo because their society converted themselves into an insect hive paradigm where individuals are bred as dedicated warriors, workers, scientists and ruling class.
“Through the use of pharmaceuticals, we are learning how to control our moods, boost our physical and mental performance, increase our longevity and vitality… Through prostheses, implants, and other bio-electronic devices, we are not only healing the blind and the paralyzed, but beginning to reconfigure our bodies, enhance our memories, and generate entirely new ways of interacting with machines… Through genetic interventions, we are not only neutralizing certain diseases long thought incurable but opening up the very real possibility of taking evolution into our own hands – redesigning the human ‘platform’ of body and mind in a thoroughgoing way.”
— Professor Michael Bess, Vanderbilt University
The thing is, whether they admit it or not, businesses will want to hire messengers or delivery guys with two legs instead of an amputee. They’ll hire young high-schoolers or college guys instead of jobless middle-aged men. What more if those young whippersnappers came with the strength and stamina of a horse or had tireless mechanical feet? Businesses will hire an HR person with the power to read minds over someone with a PH-D in industrial psychology. Companies might prefer those without any medical conditions such as diabetes to save on medical benefits.
What’s worrisome is that the prospect of enhanced persons seems too real. Genetic screening is already being imposed in countries to do detect and possibly treat some genetic problems in infants. Stem cell research is already in full swing to treat many diseases and problems and has now entered cosmetic application. Not that it’s a bad thing. Man has struggled with problems like cancer and diabetes long enough. But what of those that can’t be treated or can’t afford to be treated? Those that can’t afford to be enhanced will be at an unfair disadvantage against that taller or prettier girl or that taller, more muscular guy.
Here come the X-Men who are shunned and resented not just for their powers and appearance but because of their potential. Because as mutants, they have talents that can overtake normal humans and as a species, can only increase in number, thus taking over humans as rulers of the earth. Who wouldn’t hire Quicksilver or Angel to deliver packages around the world? Politicians would surely try to get rid of Apocalypse of Charles Xavier because they’re world leadership material.
The issue has also been tackled in Star Trek wherein the Eugenics Wars occurred between normal humans and Khan Noonien Singh’s race of genetically-enhanced supermen. Because the genetically-enhanced had an unfair advantage over normal humans. This time, they wanted to take over as they deemed themselves superior. The same way Marvel’s Magneto wants mutants to take over the earth. They failed, got exiled from the earth and were re-discovered, and the rest is Star Trek history. The issue of genetic enhancement was continued in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dr. Julian Bashir was an enhanced human unbeknownst to him at first. His parents hid the fact because genetic enhancements were illegal in the Federation or at least on Earth. His enhancement gave him an unfair advantage over other students at Starfleet Medical.
The opposite goes in Gattaca and Man of Steel. All humans need to undergo genetic testing and enhancement for acceptance in society, and normally bred and raised humans are considered outcasts. In the real world, it might not be long for such divides to happen among the population if everyone is not given the same treatment. Such enhancements should be provided to all and not just those that can afford them. Genetic screening and treatment for diabetes and other debilitating diseases need to be state-sponsored. Nutritional and genetic enhancements should be discussed and widely distributed among the entire population. Not only is it fair, as everyone deserves to live long and prosper but is also moral as everyone should be considered equal.