Tech­nol­ogy will erode black­ness

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@ city­press. co. za

In his book, Our Posthu­man Fu­ture: Con­se­quences of the Biotech­nol­ogy Revo­lu­tion, Pro­fes­sor Fran­cis Fukuyama claimed that the first hu­man be­ing has al­ready been cloned in the US. This was 12 years ago.

Fukuyama is no nutty pro­fes­sor. He is a se­nior fel­low at Stan­ford Univer­sity, and when he first put his the­ory for­ward, he was a pro­fes­sor at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity, the first re­search univer­sity in the western hemi­sphere. So he is no manga-manga aca­demic.

If a cloned hu­man be­ing does in­deed ex­ist, do you think he would be black? Ab­so­lutely not. Why would any biotech com­pany put un­due po­lit­i­cal pres­sure on it­self by cloning a black person?

I sus­pect that for a white person, the cost of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness is high. You need to be ex­tra-po­lite to prove you are not racist, and be ex­tra-kind to deal with what Laugh It Off called “black labour, white guilt”, in a play on Car­ling Black La­bel’s brand­ing.

In Who Needs the Ne­gro? Sid­ney M Will­helm wrote: “With the on­set of au­to­ma­tion, the Ne­gro moves out of the his­tor­i­cal state of op­pres­sion into one of use­less­ness.” Tech­nol­ogy, he ar­gued, would make blacks ir­rel­e­vant and so much eas­ier to dis­re­gard.

At a com­mer­cial level, the black skin would be dif­fi­cult to cre­ate a mar­ket for, whereas a mar­ket al­ready ex­ists for the bil­lions of dark peo­ple who want to be white. It goes with­out say­ing that soon there will be a mar­ket for fake white skins, or “yel­low bones”, as we call them in South Africa, just as there is a mar­ket for fake straight hair. In the fu­ture, you will not be able to tell whether the person you are look­ing at is truly white.

Per­haps the only giveaway left would be names such as “Pinky”, “Gift” or “Jus­tice”, which are English names re­served for blacks.

Names are sup­posed to be founded on a cul­ture of a peo­ple, but that too will change as the world goes through a pe­riod of “creative de­struc­tion”.

In the past few years, we have wit­nessed a grad­ual col­lapse of es­tab­lished frame­works, in­clud­ing tra­di­tional val­ues. This is be­cause new cul­tures are pro­moted all the time through so­cial net­works. Many young peo­ple have a greater affin­ity to their cell­phones than their par­ents.

So René Descartes’ state­ment, “I think, there­fore I am”, has been mod­ernised to: “I text, there­fore I am.” Par­ents, who are sup­posed to be the pri­mary teach­ers of morals and re­spect, have been rel­e­gated to the providers of food and shel­ter.

The great­est in­flu­encer of the child has be­come the cell­phone and all the so­cial net­works it brings, fol­lowed by the school teacher and friends. The bi­o­log­i­cal par­ent now comes in at a dis­tant fourth.

Since re­li­gious in­struc­tion has been taken out of the class­room, and there is no one to teach ethics, the child is now left to his own mo­bile de­vices.

Un­like with TV, where par­ents could ex­er­cise some parental guid­ance by us­ing the re­mote con­trol, they have no con­trol over the cell­phone. Bio­med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy will al­low par­ents to have their chil­dren cus­tom-made. The ques­tion is whether they will be granted the po­lit­i­cal free­dom to do so.

Look­ing at where science is go­ing, it won’t be long be­fore skin colour be­comes like the colour of lip­stick – a mat­ter of choice. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive, an

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