You know, I get that we need to test on animals to find cures for things ‘n stuff.
But if we’re gonna carry on with intentionally pumping human level cognitive powers into them, we’d better gear up for an uprising. Somehow, I can’t imagine that when these humanized lab rats I’m reading about find out how shitty we’re treating all the non-humans of the world, they’re gonna be alright with it. So, all’s I’m saying, is to have your excuses in hand so that maybe the psychopathic knife wielding rats murder you last.
(I fully expect a high level lab tech to walk into this one morning within the next decade.)
For a slight background that I’ll try not to make too boring, this piece I recently saw studied how we’re making mouse brains bigger and better. So far, bigger and better are two separate studies – the former done through injecting a human DNA sequence called an “enhancer” – which ultimately enhances the growth of our brains. And in mice, it does the same thing. Try the same thing with ape enhancers, and it won’t work so well. For the “better” study, however, it was human glial cells (the cells that support our neurons) that got shoved into Mickey’s noggin. Sure enough, they outdid the indigenous population of cells until these furry little nuggets performed significantly better on memory tests than their non glial modified pals. (I like to imagine the chosen couple’ve rats returning and impressing all the basic bitches by speaking twelve languages apiece, doing John Nash math in their heads, and being able to play multiple instruments. Simultaneously.)
From enhancers to glial implants, the claims about these “humanized” lab rats are that it’s not their intention to make the rats more human just for the fcck of it – it’s to study genes from the human brain to possibly prevent disorders of the mind. But, then again, none of the nerds turned superheroes who accidentally acquire the capacity to time travel while lifting cars with their minds ever intended for that to happen either. It just happened as a side effect. Is that what’ll happen here too? Will the rats acquire human-level thought? Science loves to hide behind the phrase “that’s outside of the scope of this study.” I remember the first time I heard that – kinda defensively – said by one of my favorite professors. It’s the go to phrase anytime ethical questions arise – like when the owner of a business says, “that’s not my area – confer with the administrative assistant”. Oh, how I wish there were some equivalent to this I could use every time I screwed up or screwed anyone over. Or wanted to. (“Oh, is this my bill? Yeah, that’s not my area. That’s outside the scope of my budget. My assistant will be by later. Speak with her.”) Pass the buck. Ostrich your head in the sand. Carry on. Ignore how much it’d suck if the Eve-in-Eden thing suddenly happened to this formerly blissfully ignorant creature, prompting him to run through the cages, shaking his loved ones and screaming, “WE’RE ALL GONNA FCCCKING DIIIIE!”
I’m not implying the answer’s that we should halt all research that could save lives. The way I reluctantly have to look at lab animals is as if they’re furry little soldiers who’ve been drafted for a war – where disease is the enemy. As a former undergrad lab tech myself, I get that, I guess. But I suppose if we were to really think about it, we could ask how many of these enemy diseases we’re cutting up Fievel and friends for – have we caused ourselves? With the shitty foods that’ve been put on the shelves under the guise of “diet” and “fat free”? Because their addictive nature causes a massive profit directly? While the sicknesses they cause rakes in a massive pharma profit?
Yeah, we could ask that.
But, ya know.
That’s outside of the scope of this study.