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Yehudi Sabbagh

Beware of a new dominant species

In 1996, scientists successfully cloned Dolly, a female sheep, marking the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell. Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), has since been used to clone a wide variety of mammals from different types of adult cells. Dozens of SCNT mammals have been produced across 23 different mammal species, and scientists have even created second-generation clones. The primary goal is to produce mammals for human consumption and assistance, enhancing humanity’s resilience in the future. This endeavor has raised numerous health, ethical, and political concerns.

Parallel to this biological recreation, humans are also advancing in the non-physical recreation of intelligence through Artificial Intelligence (AI). Coupled with the ever-present scientific ambition and curiosity to invent or discover new frontiers, we are undeniably on a path that could lead to the creation of a new and unknown species.

The question is: Are we enhancing our physical and intellectual capacities, or are we looking to substitute them?

In my last article, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” I explain how, during the Six Days of Creation, God created all physical living species. As literally stated in the Torah, after the seventh day, God breathed Adam’s Neshama through his nostrils, thereby creating the base of human intelligence. On the one hand, our physical being may have evolved through a series of mutations as the scientific community suggests, which can also be seen as another explanation of the process by which God created species. On the other hand, our spiritual intelligence seems to have no credible nor reasonable explanation other than it was given to us by God.

Regardless of one’s viewpoint on how we came to be, we have become the dominant species on planet Earth. We have developed many abilities, enabling us to live comfortably as societies, explore the depths of the oceans, and venture far into space. Although we do not yet fully comprehend how the universe works, we instinctively know we must protect our planet in order to preserve humanity. We have learned to learn and to move forward. What concerns me about humanity’s future is our tendency to play God. We clone species and create replicas outside the natural reproductive cycle, and more worryingly, we are developing Artificial Intelligence not necessarily to enhance us but potentially to substitute us.

I am confident that both scientists and rabbis would agree that humanity should pursue the enhancement of our physical and mental capabilities. Physically, we can enhance our strength or even substitute deficient parts of our bodies. However, our Neshama, the base of our intelligence, should not be tampered with. The most critical reason is that we might create a substitute that could dominate us, potentially bringing about our own extinction.

About the Author
Born in Guatemala in 1956. MBA, Businessman. Former president Jewish Community of Guatemala.
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