Will technology divide us further?

So I finally watched 2012 over the weekend, but the film left me feeling extremely agitated.The possibility that the world may meet its watery end in three years didn't bother me.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor on

So I finally watched 2012 over the weekend, but the film left me feeling extremely agitated.

The possibility that the world may meet its watery end in three years didn't bother me. Rather, what vexed me was the process by which the human specimen was salvaged.

When it was determined that the human race was indeed facing possible extinction due to the displacement of the Earth's crust, the U.S. government decides to inform the heads of state at the G8 summit.

As I sat in the theater and watched the plot develop, I became increasingly exasperated over the gaping absence of representatives from the Asean nations or any other countries outside the G8.

I'm assuming China, while not a G8 member, was included in the covert "rescue" operation because, well, they needed the Chinese people to build those massive arks. Or perhaps the film's scriptwriters meant to include the G8+5 members? Or were they simply unaware this world has over 180 other countries?

Sure, the movie was fiction and I'm sure we would all like to believe that in the real world, the U.S. or any government, for that matter, would have the decency to alert all other nations of any impending apocalypse.

But, what if the scenario was indeed real and we could only save so many humans, how would we decide who should fill those seats? What and who would "rightly" represent the humanity we want to preserve?

Should it be the smartest brains on earth? Should it be the people who are most valuable to society, and how do we then define value--by financial or social wealth? And which cultures and which arts do we preserve?

As I asked myself these questions, I thought about how it boils down to what constituted the perfect human specimen. And that led me to a medical documentary I watched last week discussing technological advancements in the realm of biogenetics.

The program highlights a controversial medical procedure called pre-implantation genetic screening or diagnosis (PGS or PGD), which screens embryos for genetic defects so babies can be born free of chronic diseases. Or, at least, that was the primary medical objective.

The procedure has been used in some instances for non-medical reasons, specifically, gender selection. If made freely available in countries such as India and China, PGS may create populations that are grossly imbalanced and eugenic.

And who's to say what defines a genetic defect? Is myopia or dwarfism a flaw? Some parents of Down Syndrome children may not take kindly to descriptions of their offspring as genetic defects.

What if PGS is used to filter embryos that carry any genes that the parent deems undesirable? Will future humanity then be a showcase of specimens similar to those in the film Gattaca?

Thanks to developments made in technology, geneticists have been able to help weed out embryos that would otherwise have created humans with severe handicaps or chronic diseases.

But thanks also to technology, we've been given yet another way to mold individuals according to what each society thinks is the best representation of the human race.

Society today is already divided by class, creed, race, wealth...and technology may very well draw yet another line.

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