This experience nevertheless raises profound ethical questions. There are of course the moral questions about the animal suffering potential in research. But there are also all those that arise from this question: is a rat in which one-sixth of the brain cells are human cells still a rat? Is he a 100% rat? Is he a bit of a human being ?
This is the question posed Jessica Hamzelou, in the Technology Review from MIT. She estimates: “For the scientists behind the study (including Sergiu Pasca), these rats are not human. They serve to better perceive the human brain, and diseases of the human brain. It’s not an augmented rat, somehow. He has no human behaviors, for example”.
However, if we look further: from what proportion of human cells in the brain would the behavior of the animal change? From when, then, could we estimate that an animal changes species?
For a rat, this seems relatively distant to us. But for a monkey that already has a brain closer to a human being, a humanized primate, is it a human being?
Jessica Hamzelou continues: “There is a consensus around the idea that what makes human beings has something to do with their brain. Which is larger, more complex than that of other animals. It is our brain that allows us to thinking, feeling, dreaming, rationalizing… Could rodents with human brain cells experience this, too?
Touching the brain, near or far, is still attacking what makes humanity.
And it is perhaps not very surprising that this experiment took place at Stanford University, in this big bath where the transhumanism is – for many scientists and tech bosses – a philosophy and a goal to achieve. Transforming the brain, the living is philosophically accepted, even desirable.