When faced with these complex ethical questions, it is tempting to take sides either for or against biotechnology. Utopian proponents will argue that biotech will end human suffering. Detractors will label it “unnatural” (many of them in blog posts on the equally unnatural internet).
But the reality, as always, is somewhere in the middle. These technologies are coming. Some are already here. And real people will make real decisions about which ones to develop and how and whether to release them to market. There will be profiteering motives and black market abuses. There will also be public discussion in the press, on the web, and in the streets that will have real effects on government policy. Pharmaceutical companies have powerful, well-heeled lobbies. But Occupy Wall Street has recently demonstrated the power of the people to organize into a formidable political force.
In other words, major decisions about how we want to reshape our brains and our entire species are upon us, and their outcome depends on our energy or apathy in addressing them.