I’m old enough to remember when the first heart transplant caused a flurry of debate on the ethics of harvesting organs, even from people certifiably brain dead (not including most politicians, television newscasters and reality show celebrities), as perhaps a violation of natural, if not God’s law. Of course, they used to say the same thing about blood transfusions, though even in the 21st century certain religious beliefs view this as impermissable, though in the decided minority and, in one recent case, prayer in lieu of medical intervention has been ruled criminal negligence, thank god. These days, scheduling a heart transplant or most any other organ swipe out with a biological or mechanical replacement is almost like taking your car to Jiffy Lube for an oil change. (Needless to say, I exaggerate, as an oil change is much less costly and doesn’t involve third party payers.) Times change. When I was a kid, notions of “post-humans” with biological enhancements and AI feeds were the stuff of science fiction. Today, they are the subject of articles such as You: The Updated Owner’s Manual in the Sunday New York Times Book Review.
Speaking of The New York Times, the magazine recently profiled Jack Vance, whose name I’ve seen but never read, something I now intend to fix post-haste.