On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, while speaking to a group of students in Sochi, claimed that Russian scientists are on the verge of creating a super soldier capable of ignoring basic human emotion. As President Putin put it, scientists are creating “a human with pre-designed characteristics.” Adding to this claim, the Russian President also pointed out that scientists and world leaders have an obligation to regulate this technology and use it in a responsible manner.
Speaking on this monumental project, President Putin said, “Man has the opportunity to get into the genetic code created by either nature, or as religious people would say, by God. All kinds of practical consequences may follow. One may imagine that a man can create a man not only theoretically but also practically.” Genetic engineering has been taking place for several years, first with scientists cloning animals, and now parents can create a child with a certain color of eyes and even select the gender.
TLC: Vlad Putin warns of fearless, emotionless, genetically modified killers during children's event in Sochi. https://t.co/dVeUFjWZZ8
— Invictus (@Cincinnatus_Rex) October 23, 2017
Of course, when talking about creating an entire human being, the ethical concerns are significant. If Russia or any other country creates an entire human being, is this person property of the state? Do they have the same rights as other citizens? Moreover, what happens if a genetically modified human has a malfunction? Is the state or the genetically modified human responsible? All legitimate questions which have yet to be answered. Addressing these questions President Putin said, “When we do something, whatever we do, we must never forget about the ethical foundations of our work.”
President Putin is a big proponent of advancing technology and has also recently visited with Arkady Volozh, the head of Yandex, a Russian tech firm that develops artificial intelligence. Like genetic engineering, the development of artificial intelligence comes with its own ethical concerns which President Putin was quick to point out to Mr. Volozh, saying, “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere [artificial intelligence] will become the ruler of the world.” This statement might seem preposterous to some but considering machines are already having more and more control over our lives, President Putin has a legitimate point.
Developing the so-called perfect human can also be applied to other non-military purposes such as creating a brilliant mathematician, musician, or chemist. However, with all the knowledge that the scientific community has and is continuing to develop, President Putin points out that aside from the ethical obligations, world leaders whose countries are developing artificial intelligence technology and genetic engineering also have a responsibility to make sure the science and tools do not fall into the wrong hands.
The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), in conjunction with the International Union of Students, organized the event which Russian President Vladimir Putin attended and made astute remarks. Next month, President Putin and President Donald Trump are set to meet at the APEC summit in Vietnam. Surely, the topics of sharing technology, as well as development partnerships will be discussed along with other controversial topics like the Uranium One Deal which took place under the Obama Administration.
Ultimately, the responsibility to maintain and develop genetic engineering of a human being lies with the scientists themselves. Countries alone can’t police themselves, and it is paramount that the scientific community remembers they have an obligation to provide reliable research and protocols. Scientists who are participating in this “advancement of humanity” must oppose the abuse of their work as well as enforcing limitations.
President Putin’s comments and claims regarding the creation of a “super soldier” are certainly not going to put Democrats in Washington D.C. at ease. Especially in the midst of renewed discussions about the Uranium One Deal along with accusations flying around that Russian agents were bribed to fabricate information against President Trump.
President Trump has not held back in his criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Uranium One Deal, and the role that the Democratic National Committee had in working with Russian entities prior to the 2016 Presidential election. All of these variables will surely create a tense and serious situation between President Trump and President Putin. The Trump Administration has not commented on the impending meeting the President will have with President Putin and his colleagues.