Pivoting off a recent blogospheric debate about what current behaviors future generations will judge immoral, I’d like to ask what brand new moral controversies the future will face. Technology will create many of these problems, especially it’s ability to enhance ourselves.
I’d argue that many interesting moral and legal questions will arise once bionic limbs unequivocally outperform human limbs. Will separate leagues be needed for bionically-altered humans? Some might object to banning of victims of tragedies and injuries, especially if bionically altered sports leagues are lower profile and lower paid than unaltered leagues. Will there need to be a separate Olympics for the bionically altered, or will the Paralympics just evolve into the the more high profile, more high performance event?
The only way the exclusion of altered athletes won’t be controversial is if their leagues are as high-profile and high paying as unaltered leagues. But if this happens then people will choose to have their limbs surgically removed and replaced with bionics, which opens up a whole other can of worms. Despite a small amount of demand for it, it is currently considered illegal and generally regarded immoral for doctors to remove healthy limbs (so technically this debate won’t be an altogether new one, but for the most part I’d call this debate currently non-existent). But will the availability of superior bionic replacements and a huge profit motive change this?
This will be especially be a problem in poorer countries where sports represent a way out of poverty and are held in high regard. Like they do with their current Olympiads, China will probably recruit bionically altered athletes at a very young age. Given the large level of sacrifice that todays Chinese families are willing to make for a chance to become an Olympian, I suspect many might be willing to have their limbs removed as well.
On the plus side, once bionically altered athletes are able to jump 30 feet in the air, baseball might actually become entertaining to watch.