From transgenic puppies to cyborg aristocrats

I love reading the writings of Henry Dampier.


Sometimes I really can’t agree, as when he predicts that “human enhancement” could lead to warriors armored in “bulletproof skin.”  Presumably the “Six Million Dollar Man” theme song and sound effects will play when they go into battle.


Then again, considering that Steampunk is more fashionable the 1970s Retro, I guess the Neoreactionary cyborgs will look like the father from Steamboy:



…technological developments are not so egalitarian in their implications.

If you can breed a human with bulletproof skin and a 160 IQ, a $500 handgun is not going to do much to him.

A future aristocracy is likely to be a cybernetic one,…

Bro, do you even biomedical engineering?


First off, human skin is a critical part of the human organism.  It has to have its present characteristics and it’s hard to re-engineer.  You would be better off implanting armor beneath your skin than you would be trying to make the skin bulletproof.


Secondly, assume that a $500 handgun canNOT kill a man in modern Kevlar armor or a cyborg with bulletproof skin.  Fine, he still has eyes.  You can still drag him down and get three fat guys to sit on his chest and arms while you poke out his eyes with a dagger.

Thirdly, recall that bulletproof armor that is soft enough to walk in often gets “defeated” by rifle bullets that don’t penetrate.  A rifle bullet can hit a vest, crush the heart, liver, lungs, etc., and move 30 cm through the body – without penetrating the vest.  The wearer still dies, even though his (slightly degraded) vest could still be re-used. – Thus, if your cyborg has bulletproof skin, make sure that he also has crush-proof internal organs and unbreakable bones.


Fourthly, implantable electronics does not result in super-cyborgs.  These technologies might be able to restore sight to some of the blind, and that’s magnificent, but they are not going to make you into Steve Austin or Adam Jensen.


Fifthly, as I recently argued, most transgenically enhanced organisms are not likely to be macro-organisms like puppies and supermen.  Most transgenic critters are going to be microscopic amoebas or paramecia or viruses or bacteria.  Transgenic tech is going to be about germ warfare and Frankenfoods for a long time before we genetically re-engineer dinosaurs, mammoths, or saber-toothed tigers.  And, because biological warfare is unpleasant and dangerous, there might not be a lot of humans left by the time that transgenic tech has advanced sufficiently to do cool stuff.  It’s entirely possible that the human race could exterminate itself with biological warfare and leave the planet to cockroaches.


Sixthly, consider the nature of “aristocracy” as being composed of men who personally take the field of battle.  If cyborg tech has bad side effects, the cyborgs will be expendable killing machines like Roy Batty from Blade Runner, and the rulers of society will avoid personal biological modifications like the plague.

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1 Response to From transgenic puppies to cyborg aristocrats

  1. AAB says:

    Yeah, I agree. Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply use an exo-skeleton and then bolt on the latest armour, weapons, sensors and other goodies? They’d be cheaper and wouldn’t require modifying any genomes (which aristocrats are probably concerned about seeing that aristocracy is about purity of blood. It doesn’t make much sense to preserve ones genetic lineage only to destroy it because ‘cyborgs are fashionable’).

    Which reminds me, exo-skeletons have recently been tested by both Russia and the USA:

    I wonder if they could replace cars as a personal mode of transport in the future? Well, maybe just for short-distance journeys. Travelling at 70 mph down the motorway wearing just an exo-skeleton doesn’t sound all that appealing…

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