First a definition, we'll be using the wikipedia version of the philosophical movement of transhumanism. This is the idea that humans will reach technologies that allow them to alter the human frame. There's two major ideas in that people will augment the body through cybernetic prosthetics (cyborgs) or (as we'll be discussing mostly) that people will edit the human genome and create biologically enhanced humans.

Second, a very popular news article (which I believe is our first steps toward a transhumanist future). Recently, a chinese doctor reportedly had edited the genome of a pair of twins so that they were resistant to HIV. Showing that we are very near the technologies described by transhumanists and the problems those technologies create. This stirred up a veritable firestorm of backlash from scientists the world over and the Chinese government which has sanctioned the researcher since. And this is the foundation of the question.


In a not so distant future, the technology to clean the human genome of disease exists. It spawns the logical leap that you can improve the human frame (in any number of ways from intelligence, charisma, strength, etc.) But as humans are ought to do there is resistance against this idea. Anyone who is a known subject of these treatments is discriminated against. Violence is uncommon but not unheard of against people like this. And a common legal argument exists that since these beings aren't technically human (having been altered to a state of extra-human status) that human protections shouldn't be granted to them (although they have to follow all human laws).

So what laws would need to exist (and be enforced broadly) or need to be created to support altered humans in the United States?

There is an additional criteria in this question. A lot of the backlash was based on ethical concerns and not legal matters in our real world example. So (if possible) how could ethics issues be resolved with these laws?

Just some ethics issues to consider.

Right to consent: Does a fetus have rights to not consent to alterations to its genome? Does the parent's rights as medical proxy supersede that? Seeing as this technology is currently being used in this way, this seems likely to appear as an issue.

Human alteration: Is it proper to alter the human body at all? You'll find a fair few that believe it's entirely unethical to alter the human structure.

Eugenics: Transhumanism can be easily associated with the negative sides of eugenics. After all, cleaning the human genome can turn into getting rid of the unwanted traits of society even if they aren't flaws.

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    $\begingroup$ "A common legal argument exists that these beings aren't human": does it really exist? Why does it exist? Where does it come from? How come both Russia and the U.S.A. agreed on it? Why aren't China and Japan leading the world in the effort to establish full rights for modernized humans? P.S. Remeber that there is no such thing as a true international law. Only the Law of the Sea comes close, but even there China and U.S.A. have divergent opinions... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ As being realistic to the broader world as I can, it would exist more under a confluence of reasons than as one "we use this argument because it works". Russia currently has a very high intolerance of even minor variances from the Orthodox methodologies. As noted by their persecution of LGBTQ members. As for the United States, it would be hotly debated (as all U.S. things are) because the Religious Right and the Liberal Left just don't see eye to eye. To be honest, Japan might just be the best hope (even though they have huge culture issues with conformity of which transhumans aren't). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ Are the transhumans LGBTQ? Who made them so? Are they non-conformant? Why? (And no, Russia is not after "variances from Orthodox methodologies", whatever you think that this means. A country, for example the U.S.S.R., can easily persecute sexual deviants and at the same time strive to create a New Man, as they actually did. Cognitive dissonance is not that hard to overcome given the right incentives.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ I only used LGBTQ members to point out Russia has a history of persecution against deviance. As of now, in the real world, Russia has stated they are against the Chinese doctor's efforts. What happens if we add 30-50 years of technological development on that? Will they have a massive culture shift? In how I view Russia, they are more likely to be against Transhumanism than for it because it's a huge biological deviation which is against the Orthodox Church and therefore against most Russian citizen's views. With respect to International law, I agree. I should narrow the scope in that case. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ VTC OT:TB. An actual attorney (like the three in my family) would tell you (and did tell me) that it's meaningless to even attempt to answer this question because the body of argument necessary in any developed legal system based on the specifics of perceived infractions, social needs, and individual freedoms is so complex that any answer given here is far more likely to be wrong than right. The law isn't simply a set of rules, it's a codified history of thought, behavior, and argument. You're asking us to develop a century worth of such debate (HIV resistance != transhumanism). Too broad. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 21:12

4 Answers 4


The law: There is no difference when facing the law.


The problem you have is that people are a*holes. What make homosexual baby different from hetero one? What make dark skin baby different from the one that have reddish tint? What made the difference that homosexual adults couldn't marry? That a clerk didn't issued certificate even when she was obliged to do so by law. People being a**holes.

What make people who wear glasses different from those who wear contacts or those who refuse to correct their eyesight or those who take laser surgery? After all it is human alteration.

Why parents have power over their babies that allow them to agree on surgeries in the womb. That let them circumcise the newborn. After all it is Right to consent.


People will get used to it.

I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but to me it seems likely things would just work themselves out. This kind of divide would not even be the greatest social divide to date.

There would be some conflict in the beginning, but this would not be an issue for long because of 2 likely outcomes:

  1. Everyone becomes a designer baby:

    Costs decrease exponentially and now everyone can afford gene therapy. For this we can use genome sequencing cost by year, as an example of how fast these technologies become affordable. So we have a new technology that can make your baby beautiful, super intelligent, super athletic, super whatever, do you use it? Most people will want the best for their children, so it will be widely adopted. In this scenario everyone is super, so no one is super.

    Will there still be people that are unhappy? Yes, for example those that cant afford transhumanism or the better perks of it. However remember that even today people are already not born equal. Some are born poor and some are born rich. We already have great divides that people tolerate.

    Finally there is a very important situation you have not thought about. With Gene therapy and viral vectors, you can make designer people even after they are adults. So like people today think "I am just not rich, yet, but give me some time and I will be", people who are not enhanced yet will just think "I am not enhanced, yet, but give me some time and I will be".

    This is all scenario one, where everyone embraces transhumanism for selfish reasons, rather than rejecting it.

  2. We pass laws for equality using the model of the American Civil Rights Movement:

    If there is really a talent divide that leads to population segregation, the laws that can handle this situation will probably be of the same flavor as those that solved (/are solving) racial segregation.

    Jobs: Hiring quotas. We need 3 normal people for every super human we hire.

    Rights: Superhumans have the same rules to follow.

    Schools: Superhumans and humans must go the same schools and learn the same curriculums.

    Economics: Superhumans must pay more taxes, proportional to their enhancement advantage.

    See a comprehensive list of anti discrimination acts, for ideas of what to adapt to transhumans.

How to orchestrate conflict:

If you want there to be real conflict between superhumans and humans, you need to create a scenario where the amount of possible superhumans is limited; is small enough that everyone can think of them as outsiders; and have mass propaganda about how transhumans are taking all the jobs/wealth/women whatever. This is a case getting the population riled up, and not necessarily with facts.

However in our own reality there is no reason to think that there would be this kind of problem. First because gene editing is not going to run out. Second because the first people that are going to be able to afford transhumanism are going to be rich. Rich people are already influential, insulated from the general population, and can stay out of the spotlight if they want. Plus transhumans can simply deny they are transhuman. If they look like normal people, no one will think differently.

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    $\begingroup$ In case of #1, welcome to the "Gattaca" world. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ Compared to current world, from a pragmatical point of view, MC's parents in Gattaca were the equivalent of anti-vax hippies. And not allowing your baby to be "designed" if you can afford it, in the question setting, would become irrational. (My two cents on that parallel) $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Commented Feb 21, 2019 at 12:24

A law that extends the present/existing protections and rights of men to all humans.

Something like this: As of [date], all the existing protections and rights benefiting men, without exception, should be extended, automatically and without discretion, to all members of the human species, without discrimination as to gender, sexual orientation, genetic manipulations, bionic components/alterations.


Standard Anti-discrimination Laws

Your question is "So what laws would need to exist (and be enforced broadly) or need to be created to support altered humans in the United States?" The answer is to simply make them a protected category, like gender, sexuality, or religion.

The one issue is that enhancements can create significant differences between the transhumans and the regular humans. In this way, it is similar to disabilities, but reversed. Since your question is just about protecting them, however, I will not address it in this answer. The only thing that would be necessary is so some sort of analogue of the United States "Americans with Disabilites Acts" for disadvantages caused by the enhancements, or for enhancements that went wrong.


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