Big Brother Is Watching You

Big brother is actually a fictional character from the novel 1984 from George Orwell. He represents the head of the political party and is recognized to be omnipresent because of all the posters of him on walls, billboards or even TV. He is a powerful character that knows everything, but has never really been seen.

In the actual world, the expression big brother has become a symbol for the lost of the individual rights of the population as well as representation of the government control. As the number of TV, computers, cameras and numbers of other technologies, this feeling of being watched and having our privacy disturbed by the secret eyes of the government grew even more popular. Nowadays, we can track almost anybody with a cell phone GPS, with a credit card, etc. It brings out the question of privacy and also the potential danger of having such a big knowledge. It is part of our individual rights to be given a certain liberty and privacy. It is normal to want privacy in our life. Not everything should be known by the government; they already have our financial records, health records and more. The more surveillance a person is under, the less free a person will feel. Nobody wants to live in a society records and analyse your every move.

With the satellites and today’s technology and further development, it is not impossible to believe that someday we will be under as much surveillance as in the novel 1984. With knowledge comes power, and if this power given through the advancement of science and technology could into the wrong hands, there could be disastrous consequences. Our society needs technology to function properly, but it is also this technology that could be our downfall.

*http://usconservatives.about.com/od/capitalpunishment/a/Conservatism-And-Privacy-Rights.htm

*http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Brother

Technological Singularity, Robots & Future

Technological singularity is theme frequently explored in science-fiction movies. It is the term use to this describe the moment when the computers will overpower us by gaining their own consciousness and will be able to make decision out of their programming system.

Technological singularity does imply certain risk for the human world. If the machines would be capable of developing a consciousness and surpass the intelligence of men, what would happen to us? We are now living in a world where humans is in control. We were the first specie to use the earth for our need instead of letting the earth dictate our needs. A group of researchers of Cambridge University has investigated the question of technological singularity. They came up with a possible hypothesis as to what would happen to humans if we were no longer the superior specie. Unlike the popular belief that machines would rebel against us and kill us out of hatred for using them, they would simply act as we do with gorillas. They believe that machines will just not care enough for our survival that we would eventually vanish. There are less and less gorillas in the world, because even though we do not want them to vanish we won’t risk our life to save them. In a sense, we have grown indifferent to them and what they do, because we are too busy with our specie.

For the moment, our society is seriously dependant of technology. This dependence has slowly been creeping on us since the industrial era where we started to use machines to make what we could before. What makes us believe that with the present speed of our technological development, technology could not eventually surpass us?

*https://www.seriouswonder.com/risky-business-cambridge-to-investigate-dangers-of-singularity

*http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/technological-singularity.htm

Science, History & Knowledge

Science has always been one of the main factors allowing a civilization to grow and evolve. As time passed, science permitted the realization of new devices and the acquirement of new knowledge.

It was during the Renaissance period; however that scientific knowledge grew, due to the invention of the paper-press, allowing an easier access to more books. Knowledge was no longer reserve to monks or specific people. Of course science was always on our side. Scientific advancement has always been directly linked to the disproval of the previous theory and acknowledging all possible ones. In those times, scientists were sometime killed or imprisoned for thinking differently than the establish concept. It leads to believe that science might have advance more rapidly if science had remained objective and separated from religious beliefs.

Even if the Renaissance period was a fructuous time for scientific advancement, science will really pick up its speed in the 20th century with the previous arrival of the industrialisation. In the 17th and 18th centuries, science was used to acquire new knowledge and more theoretical advancement. This knowledge was mainly share between scholars and universities.* They them-selves declared that the advancement of scientific knowledge was neutral and could not be considered good or bad, since they were not concerned with practicalities*. On the other side, there was industrial research, which was the exact opposite. Their main goal was the technological advancement and the results were not kept by scientists, but companies hoping to make money. It is from this application of science that ethical problem emerged.

Since the 20th century, there were many changes in the relation between academic (theoretical) and industrial knowledge.* Nowadays, those two types of knowledge can be very intrinsically linked together making it essential to evaluate the situation and the ethical aspect of any scientific researches.

*http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1084045/

DNA, Reproduction & Clones

The knowledge link to cloning has always had some appeal to the scientific world. The first demonstration of artificial cloning was shown on urchin by the scientist Hans Adolf Edward Dreich in 1885*. Since then, demonstrations were made on more animals of different kinds with the objective of cloning humans, or parts of it. Cloning is a method of asexual reproduction, where the DNA of the offspring comes from only one parent. In other words, the offspring are genetically similar to the parent.

Cloning has always been a hot topic. Many persons are in disagreement on the idea of cloning, because there are many advantages and disadvantages. In order for cloning to be successful, advanced technologies and knowledge must be combined. During the research, it is probable that scientist would discover new knowledge related to the human body are simply observe and study a phenomenon already discovered, which would help to the advancement of science. Another benefit of cloning would be the possibility of having the perfect organs donor for a particular patient. It could save the life of people waiting for a kidney transplant or marrow bone, for example. It would also diminish the risk of the body rejecting the transplant since it would be the exact same organ. A third advantage given by the science of cloning is to give the possibility for a sterile couple to have a child related to one of the parent.

Obviously, cloning has it down side. Since cloning is an exact replication of a certain DNA, it would reduce genetic variety which is one of the main reasons responsible for the survival and evolution of any species. Similar to organs, the rarity of a certain type of embryo or DNA could cause a black market. Also, a certain gene could be selected in order to create a certain race superior or inferior to us. The society would also have some difficulties with the loss of individualism, which would complicate the identification of a person.

*http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cloning/clonezone/

*http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/usdagen/cloning.html

Rats, Mice & Rules

 

To understand the human body or any living creature on earth, experimentations have to be made. Those experimentations are needed in order determine the proper conclusion and the further advancement of science. Nowadays, lots of regulations are made concerning experimentations on humans. The severity of those rules differs from countries but is generally very strict to avoid any abuses. If human testing is now controlled by many different rules, than why is it not the case for animal testing?

According to Procon.org, 1.95% of animals used in experiments are not protected by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which excludes birds, rats and mice bred for research, and cold-blooded animals such as reptiles and most fish.* Animals are used to develop drugs, make up, test the level of toxicity of a drug… In some laboratories, animals are subjected to burns, injuries, food and water deprivation. All of this in order to study the mechanism of life and how the body functions. The problem is that pain is inflicted to animals in order to improve the life and comprehension of the humans. Although animals have some similarity to humans, the differences between the organisms and their functioning are too big to make real good subjects. Animals are not reliable test subjects and the results obtained on animals can largely differ than with a human. The worst part of animals testing is that the pain inflected on innocent animals could be avoided. Procon.org proposes many solutions. For example, the testing of a drug could be done on a human volunteer who would receive a micro dose. There are also virtual reconstructions of the human body on computer that can predict the level of toxicity of a drug without having to involve any animals.

Obviously, there are some advantages to experiment on animal, but the regulation should be as strict as the ones for human testing. A life is a life, and animals should not be mistreated and torture for our benefice is other methods could be used.

http://animal-testing.procon.org/

Fever, Flu and Contamination

FluThe world of medicine is in constant movement; researches on the human body and on how to treat certain illnesses are in constant innovations. Because of these advancements, many opinions arise on how to treat those illnesses.

In the CBC’s article “Fever-reducing meds encourage spread of flu: McMaster report“ researchers claim that using drugs such as Tylenol, which contains ibuprofen, can increase the chance of transmitting the influenza. It is true that fever can help reduce the number of microbes or viruses in our system (which is good!), but this increase of temperature cannot be left on its own. Some viruses are so strong that the temperature of the body has to increase to a level that could potentially be dangerous for our life if not controlled. At a certain temperature, the heat starts to denaturize the proteins in our body and cannot be reversed. In other words, it breaks the bonds (killing them) of the proteins, which are what keeps us alive. The influenza is not dangerous to everyone, only some “types of person“, such as older people, babies and toddlers, persons with pulmonary or chronicle diseases, have a higher risk of getting complications from this virus. These days, most people get vaccinated against the flu to limit the symptoms and help the body get rid of the virus faster. Furthermore, since the virus is eliminated quickly; the risk of contamination is even smaller.

In my opinion, people should not stop taking drugs that could help stop a fever in order to decrease the risk of transmitting the influenza; they should prioritise vaccines. However, I do agree that, in any case, a contagious person should stay at home to avoid or minimize contacts with other persons to reduce the contagion.

(CBC’s article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/fever-reducing-meds-encourage-spread-of-flu-mcmaster-report-1.2505505)

Right to Life or Right to Choose?

foetus10

The right to life has always been an ongoing issue in the world. Nowadays, this term is mostly use in abortion debates and marches. Pro-lifers, as William Saletan calls them in his article “Do Most Americans Think Most Abortions Should Be Illegal? “, believe that abortion should be illegal are allowed only in certain situation such as rape, incest or for the mother’s safety. On the other side of this debate, there are the pro-choicers, who believe in the right to choose, meaning that abortion should be legal; since the foetus isn’t born it is not yet a human person therefore does not have the same right to life.

In Saletan’s article, it was shown how one side or the other could manipulate the wording of their surveys to give the impression that there are more supporters on one side than the other. Since abortion is a touchy subject with lots of gray zones, those surveys are not always the most reliable sources. Our opinion should be our own, made by our own experiences and who we are; which is why I believe that the population should not relay on poll results to base their opinion.

The question of abortion is very controversial, but can also be very unique. What is meant by unique is that every situation is different and should be treated as such. Some persons strongly refuse to consider abortion in any cases. But what about a person that gets raped by a family member, which we all know increases the chance of genetic problems that could results in the death of the child or the mother? Fortunately, most people agree that in those cases, a woman should have the right to terminate her pregnancy. On the opposite side, there are pro-choicers that believe an abortion should be legal at any point in the pregnancy. It is those situations that should be treated as a unique case. Should a drug user be forbidden to get an abortion if the dependence for drugs in alcohol is so strong it would only hurt the foetus? Or should a woman be allowed to terminate her pregnancy because she had unprotected sex and does not want to deal with the ramifications of her act?

This is why neither side is right or wrong. Each situation is different the “whys?“ should always be analysed in order to help some people and save others.

Source:http://www.slate.com/blogs/saletan/2014/01/22/abortion_polls_2014_do_most_americans_think_most_abortions_should_be_illegal.html ))

Dying in Dignity

assisted-suicide

Death is inevitable and can also be scary for many people. This is why we should, as a society; help make this transition as comfortable as it is possible. This is where the palliative care plays an important role in a person’s end of life. Whether a person is dying of old age, cancer or any other illness, those cares allows a person to die in comfort and in dignity.

The principle of end-of life care is separated in two aspects. The fist one is the palliative cares which consist to decrease the patient’s sufferance and make the person as comfortable as possible. There is also the terminal palliative sedation, where the patient, after giving a written consent, with be sedated in a state of unconsciousness until his death.

The second aspect of the end-of-life care is the assisted suicide. This procedure is now allowed in Quebec, but can only be operated in particular situations. Assisted suicide is a very controversial subject, due to the fact that contrary to the terminal palliative sedation, the assisted suicide does not let the patient die in his own time, but terminate his life. However, this is not only a black and white subject; there are gray zones where assisted suicide could be the answer to some people. A person in a terminal stage of a very painful cancer could benefit of this option, he or she could be released of their pain and die in dignity which is one of the aspect the government of Quebec emphasis a lot.

According to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association’s survey, 96% of the Canadians wish to choose where they’ll die. When time comes to leave our love ones behind and confront death, it is imaginable that most people would seek their friends, family and home, where all the memories of their life still live, and I believe the end-of-death care is the answer to those last wishes.

(CBC’s article:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/96-of-canadians-want-to-choose-where-they-die-poll-finds-1.2508304?cmp=rss)

(Goverment of Quebec’s article: http://mourirdansladignite.gouv.qc.ca/soins-de-fin-de-vie)