NYU Professor Center for Bioethics & philosopher Matthew Liao
Listen To Audio: We talk about breeding people to be shorter, something Liao says could reduce our carbon footprint. Smaller people require less energy and use fewer resources, Liao argues. But selecting for height genetically would be a nightmare, according to the most recent paper that Maxmen found there are 697 genes involved in height. Since there’s not a good way to select for height genetically, another method Liao talks about in his paper is using treatments that cause babies to be born light — to have a low “birth weight.” But that comes with a set of very real dangers to the baby, and few mothers would opt to take that risk. Not to mention set their kid up for society’s bias against people (particularly men) who are shorter.
Another modification that Liao proposed was an induced allergy to meat, to help people reduce their consumption of animals. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States 14.5% of all greenhouse gas pollution comes from livestock. So the idea here is to make people allergic to eating meat. The problem is that there’s no real way to control the severity of the allergy, and the two proteins that Liao talks about targeting (BSA and alpha-gal) are both found in all kinds of places like milk, eggs, dogs, cats and pork. People allergic to alpha-gal seem to be able to eat poultry and fish, but if they were to eat pork or lamb or beef the allergic reaction includes everything from hives to gastrointestinal upset, to anaphylactic shock. Not something most people would want to sign up for.
The last modification that Liao talks about: empathy. You might remember that just a few weeks ago we talked about empathy on this very podcast! And you might remember that empathy is actually a really hard thing to define. Liao’s idea is to give hormones like oxytocin and seratonin to people, and to perhaps decrease someone’s testosterone. But those hormones have all kinds of effects, and can change people in really profound ways beyond making them a little more amenable to negotiating.
Liao is very clear that he has no plans to force anybody to be shorter or to take Modafinil. But eugenics actually didn’t start out as something that was forced on people — many of the early eugenics proponents were all about choice. Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin, saw the idea of selective breeding as something that would become a “civil religion.”
Flashback 2012: Meet Man Who Wants to Engineer a Master Climate Race?! NYU Prof. Matthew Liao: Humans genetically engineered to combat global warming — ‘Pharmacological enhancement’
NYU Prof. S. Matthew Liao of Center for Bioethics promotes ‘solution of human engineering. It involves the biomedical modification of humans to make them better at mitigating climate change’ – ‘We shall argue that human engineering potentially offers an effective means of tackling climate change…the possibility of making humans smaller. Human ecological footprints are partly correlated with our size…a more speculative and controversial way of reducing adult height is to reduce birth weight…Pharmacological enhancement of altruism and empathy…could increase the likelihood that we adopt the necessary behavioural & market solutions for curbing climate change’
Fmr. Harvard U. Physicist Dr. Lubos Motl Compares NYU Prof. Matthew Liao to Nazis: ‘It only differs from the most perverse medical plans during Nazi era by one detail’ — ‘Mr Liao and his thugs want to exterminate mankind as we know it’
Liao’s ‘human engineering’ co-author Anders Sandberg: ‘People seem to assume we are some kind of totalitarian climate doomsters who advocate biotechnological control over people’ – Co-author Rebecca Roache: ‘Our normally unflappable bioethicist colleagues were shocked by the idea of human engineering, so the wider public was bound to find it ghastly’
Be Afraid, Very Afraid! Prof. Liao wants to drug the public to make them more compliant with his ideology. ‘Pharmacological enhancement’: ‘Test subjects given the posocial hormone oxytocin were more willing to share money with strangers…Also, a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor increased social engagement and cooperation’
NYU Bioethicist S. Matthew Liao again suggests ‘voluntarily’ medicating the public and shrinking humans to make them care more about global warming – Liao: ‘The stuff that we looked at are things we currently already can do. So they are not meant to be very farfetched scenarios. They are meant to be realistic. — ‘Screen for embryos that are expected to be shorter. Another possibility is you can get hormone treatments…We can use that technology to have smaller children’
Analysis of NYU Prof Liao: ‘He has absolutely no idea that he is either immoral or out of his mind. He is clearly both’ [email protected] – ‘Liao’s effort to change history, whatever the motivation or lack of underlying knowledge, cannot be abided…It is simply the publication of an academic paper that presages the death of science, and indeed the death of reason, in the West’
NYU Bioethicist Prof. Liao on Eating meat: Seeks to ‘Make ourselves allergic to those proteins…unpleasant reaction…The way we can do that is to create some sort of meat patch’ – ‘Kind of like a nicotine patch where you put it on before you go to dinner go out to restaurant and this will curb your enthusiasm for eating meat’
Prof. Liao upset about ‘a torrent of outrage and abuse was being directed towards him online…terms such as ‘eugenics’, ‘Nazis’ and ‘eco fascists’ were quickly being bandied around’ – ‘Human engineering’: ‘The modifications discussed included: giving people drugs to make them have an adverse reaction to eating meat; making humans smaller via gene imprinting and “preimplantation genetic diagnosis”; lowering birth-rates through “cognitive enhancement”; genetically engineering eyesight to work better in the dark to help reduce the need for lighting; and the “pharmacological enhancement of altruism and empathy’
Analysis of Prof. Liao: ‘Why pull punches when it comes to saving Mother Earth: If men are bad for the planet, why not suggest getting rid of the bearers of Y chromosomes?’ – Flashback 1984: Futurist Graham Molliter in article on how to feed an allegedly overpopulating world envisioned ‘an outer-limits scenario: using genetic engineering to produce smaller people–who need less food’