Elon Musk Won’t Go Into Genetic Engineering Because of ‘The Hitler Problem’
As far as the future of humanity goes, there are five areas that will shape us the most: the internet, sustainable energy, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and human genetic code manipulation.
Elon Musk, one of the greatest innovators of our time, has already helped shape three of those areas — he co-founded Paypal for online financial transactions, Tesla Motors has given us a future with automobiles that don’t require fossil fuels, and SpaceX is making leaps into affordable and efficient space exploration.
It’s widely known now that one of Musk’s greatest fears is the possibility that artificial intelligence will play out in a Terminator/Skynet scenario and wipe out the destructive mold of Earth that is humanity. But when it comes to the possibility of reprogramming the human genetic code, Musk seems to have mixed feelings.
When Tim Urban of Wait But Why recently interviewed Musk, he asked him if “genetic reprograming” would ever be something Musk would dabble in.
Musk explained that it’s not really a “technical battle” as much as a “moral battle”:
“You know, I call it the Hitler Problem. Hitler was all about creating the Übermensch and genetic purity, and it’s like— how do you avoid the Hitler Problem? I don’t know.”
With genetic reprogramming, problems like disease, genetically inherited defects and even aging could effectively be abolished to create the “perfect human.”
But would a perfect human still be human? Should we make people smarter and stronger? Should humans be able to live forever? The questions of “would” and “should” only get more complex and troubling given many of the other problems humanity faces now, like global warming, social class disparity and overpopulation. As to the question of “Can we really solve these problems?,” Musk explains there’s only one way to really find out:
“I mean I do think there’s … in order to fundamentally solve a lot of these issues, we are going to have to reprogram our DNA. That’s the only way to do it.”