Manimal Kind’s Worst Nightmare: Will a Transhuman Future Lead to Hybrid Species?

In the years following World War II, technological improvements that resulted from competition between world superpowers stoked the fire beneath innovation in a number of areas and fields. These ranged from industries like automobiles and weaponry, to aviation and, ultimately, technology that would allow flight and exploration into outer space.

For many, such innovations might be perceived as the result of certain necessity. In other words, if the United States hadn’t thrown their proverbial weight around and gotten to the Moon before anyone else (especially following the milestone achievement that was the launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite), concerns over whether another nation might have done so–and thus capitalized on the potential strategic advantages Earth’s lonely satellite could provide–might have been a game changing event.

History, of course, proved otherwise, at least when it comes to utilizing lunar property for futuristic “Star Wars” style defense systems. But even today, there may be other startling branches of futuristic science that will present nations around the world with little other option than to cross the ethical threshold into a trans-human future… and one where human-animal hybrids may become an unsettling reality.

I recently stumbled onto the following trailer for a film online which deals with the moral and ethical implications surrounding the cross-breeding of animals and humans. However, we also see an interesting assertion that is far less often considered toward the end: that future humans might be pressured into such research, in an effort to prevent certain nations and superpowers from harnessing power and technology that might place others at a disadvantage. Here’s the trailer for this film:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OazdUor8-_o[/youtube]

So forget the Space Race… in the future, will mankind be instead locked into a competition to see who will first manage to succeed in hybridization between humans and animals for practical use in military and other official purposes?

Though it may seem surprising to some, attempts at this very sort of thing have indeed transpired in the past; namely during the 1920s as overseen by the Russian biologist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov. It was Ivanov who, with some support and encouragement from the Soviet government, moved his controversial operation to different areas within France and Africa in an ongoing attempt at successfully cross-breeding humans and chimpanzees. Indeed, part of the belief system underlying Ivanov’s research was that a cross-bred race of “humanzees”–i.e. a real-life “Planet of the Apes”–might result in Soviet super-soldiers who would be indifferent to the food they were given, more resistant to poor weather and adverse conditions, and of course, more tolerable of pain and discomfort.

The world has changed a great deal since the 1920s, many would argue. However, the recent revelation that various labs outside the U.S. (and, as one might speculate, perhaps even some in the United States also, albeit covertly) have indeed tampered with hybridization of human and animal genes seems to show that people’s motives are often fueled by their curiosity. Despite what seem to be clear ethical boundaries, perhaps the potential for gain of power that might result from successful mastery of the science behind inter-species hybridization presents too much intrigue and allure. Is a future where animal-like people exist really inevitable, and if so, how close are we to seeing this sort of thing spring from the pages of science fiction… and into our reality?

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Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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