The Perfect Human Being

The Perfect Human Being

Ratings: 6.49/10 from 61 users.

What if you could create the perfect baby in a lab? Thanks to the wonders of modern science, that far-fetched concept may soon become a reality. The ability to manipulate the natural processes of nature, and to chart a new course for human evolution in the process, may well be within our grasp. The searching and revelatory new documentary series The Perfect Human Being, an ambitious production from the Dutch public broadcasting company VPRO, examines the full potential of these scientific possibilities, and investigates the moral and ethical considerations that come along with them.

Hosted by writer and interviewer Bas Heijne, the series delivers insights from a distinguished panel of renowned scientists, philosophers and technological innovators. Each of these experts provide a unique glimpse into the possible future of our species.

In one episode, biomedical gerontologist Aubrey De Grey characterizes the process of aging as the one disease which afflicts us all. In his view, medical science should work to reverse the effects of aging as it would with any condition that ultimately results in certain death.

Another episode takes us inside a fertility clinic in Turkey where couples are legally permitted to choose between various embryos to determine the sex of their child. This freedom of choice for parents-to-be has implications that extend far beyond the determination of a child's gender. As explained by philosopher and biochemist Julian Savulesco in a segment devoted to human enhancement, it may one day be possible to carefully craft our own "designer babies", and genetically alter an embryo to our exact specifications, including the implementation of personality traits, physical attributes and specific skills and talents.

The implications of these practices are vast and complex. At what points does our scientific curiosity pose a threat to the sanctity of the natural order, and is it our responsibility as a species to push beyond those boundaries? To its immense credit, The Perfect Human Being embraces these challenges yet offers no easy or definitive answers. In the end, the series explores what it truly means to be human, and the role we could or should have in reshaping that definition in the years to come.

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20 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Urban dweller

    Just another eugenics documentary. Can you say, "Heil Hitler?" Some of the most brilliant scientists would have been "gassed" if they hadn't escaped from Germany! Who decides who's "worthy and who isn't?" Because a great majority of the population that doesn't succeed is due to surrounding AND opportunity having to deal with the weight of prejudice. Think about the mathematician Turing.

  2. Urban dweller

    Some of the wealthiest people are the psychopaths!

  3. sem

    Can't find it on NPO :(

  4. George

    I would support removing genic defects from the human race. We have thousands of them, more than any other animal specie. On would almost think the human race was cobbled together by some low bid government contractor. Sadly too much of the enhancement will be based on the latest celebrity trend. Right now the latest trend seem to be gender neutral children. Producing large number of asexual children would not bode well for the human race.

    As messy and unpredictable as it is, natural selection has worked for billions of years. The problem is we are now interfering with natural selection. Children that are born with genetic defects that would have died before reaching puberty are now kept alive, allowed to reproduce and contribute their genes to the human gene pool. We all have the right to life, but do we all have the right to reproduce and pass on our genes to future generations?

    1. Urban dweller

      The problem is nature will always decide - no matter our best planning.

  5. Adam

    Its cool to be part of such incredible phenomena but not as a slave humanoid.

  6. turd

    mishmish = idiot apologist.
    dustup = paranoiac.
    jennyW = insightful.

    let's spend billions THINKING about how to change the atmosphere of Mars instead of just spending millions to make things work here (which does involve a bit of sharing, which does = some Marxism). or we could all just keep being selfish assholes.

    1. DustUp

      DustUp = factual
      turd = clueless and too lazy minded to do homework.

  7. DustUp

    So mishmish, what JennyW explained isn't happening, despite the facts? Clearly the puppet master owned propaganda companies and schools have been successful on you ...and a few too many others or we wouldn't be in this mess. Further a scientist isn't a robot unless programmed like yourself. Unfortunately, the scientific ego decided that it was mature enough to mess around with so called atoms and now we have the nuclear mess. Read "A Brave New World" and get back to me. Study who provides grants to university professorships and picks the professors doing such research or promoting marxism. Who was behind Monsanto GMO? Ever heard of following the money. Try it.

  8. mishmish

    ANNE TYLER what is a scientist going to do about people living in slums? We know how to fix a sewer system, build an apartment building and pick up garbage, those are city planning issues not 'do we know how to do this' issues. Educated people are not a single resource that can be effectively redistributed wherever regardless of their desires of skill sets.

  9. mishmish

    Jenny W what?? There are not enough resources for everyone on the planet, and Hollywood does not control the news media does not control Wall Street does not control engineers who work in technology, there isn't some conspiracy of rich people all working together, drumming their fingers going 'exxxcellent' while they bleed the world dry. Ruthless, self-interested people succeed across a variety of professions, they don't need to work together or be part of generations long conspiracies to keep being greedy and rich, and anyone who drives a car or uses air conditioner is helping destroy the planet. The problem is that the system in place makes it more beneficial to live in an environmentally harmful way than an environmentally conscious one, that problem would still exist even if you redistributed rich people's money. And what does that have to do with sex and young people? There have been places and periods of history where kids have been married off and sold as concubines as pre-pubescent children, it's not as if the past was this morally glorious utopia where children were innocent and everyone was 'pure', whatever the hell THAT means. I mean people used to live in big, one room houses- as in one, big room for the parents AND the kids- kids who lived on farms, with animals. I think they probably knew what was up.

    As for your comment on shortened lives- yeah, there are things in our environment that hurt us, and companies leave those chemicals there because it's cheaper, but we as a population still support them by buying those cheaper products, and humans live longer today than at any other point in history, largely thanks to modern science.

  10. Paul M.

    JennyW, your comments are absolutely right on - succinct from the material end of things to the spiritual (is there really a difference, taken in the proper context). As many people over the centuries have said - most recently Betty Friedan , the founder of 1st wave feminism - "the personal is political".
    JennyW, your words are the best I've heard in a while. Blessed Be.


    There are MILLIONS OF PEOPLE INCLUDING CHILDREN living in slums on top of garbage heaps with no running water and no sewer system how about fixing that and keep your fingers out of mother nature.


    It's not ENHANCING its screwing around with stuff your fingers don't belong in. I saw today that Obama is pushing for an embryo with three parents - that b.s. you're all messing with things that should be hands off when there are tons of problems more pressing.

  13. Deborah Moderate

    @JennyW I agree with your sentiments. My thoughts upon your own are that at the rate of the destruction of Earth, in all it's facets, not enough health of the planet would be left for those bred to be perfect if even they are the progeny of the 1%.

  14. Louise

    To "cure" aging in order to prevent death would be a world wide catastrophe. At present Earth can barely maintain the billions of people as it is. If death was eliminated the world population would skyrocket, given enough time. I'm sure at first the price for this "cure" would be only something the rich could afford, but as with all things, eventually the price would come down so more of the masses would be able to avoid death. The outcome? An unsustainable ridiculously large world population. In the end, there would be starvation since there wouldn't be enough resources to feed everyone. Then what? A world of skeletal people roaming around or would the "cure" also be able to beat the eventual death from starvation?
    The implications are too horrendous to visualize.

  15. JennyW

    Humans have been manipulated for decades, when just 1% hold all the wealth, and most of these are psychopaths who want control and power, whilst the rest of humanity struggle, or starve, worked as slaves all their lives to pay taxes that support the 1% it is no surprise that they are frantically working on Trans-humanism to create a totally controlled slave.They are fearful of losing control as the masses are waking up to the total fraud of government puppets who are working for the 1% and these in the shadows above the 1%. As I said psychopaths are in control and happy to trash the planet, destroy all its resources, destroy the Air we breath by spraying chemtrails every day, kill off nature with radiation leaks into the seas. Feeding us poisons in our food and water, toxic vaccinations, slow kill to bring about nothing but shortened lives, and early deaths.
    There is enough for every one on this planet, no need for any starvation, ways of using energy, that could be Free to all, but the shadow masters do not want that. Humans do do love, have empathy, compassion, morals, decency, and all this is being destroyed every day, with the media and "Hollywood" as tools to make us all, turn everything on its head, invert everything, what was once normal, is now considered abnormal, sex is being pushed into young minds as soon as they can now go to kindergarten. We have lost touch with nature, and worship materialism...all of course by design. We need to wake up, before people like the Virus infected "Experts in this Film" convince you that some stage in the near future you will be part robot part human. Not what the creator designed, but a fake imitation..

  16. Mark

    @alistair emery
    People in The Netherlands can view this on the Dutch public broadcasting website: NPO
    Top right you can search for ''tegenlicht'' for all Backlight Episodes.
    They will be narrated in Dutch and also will have dutch subtitles when needed

  17. Ted

    thats a shame alistair, considering that it was your tax money that paid for it, a "Dutch public broadcasting company VPRO"
    All 18 parts would be better suited in a single doc, with some narration. good stuff still, 9 thumbs up.

  18. alistair emery

    not able to see it for some reason, barred from Netherlands. Why?