Alice’s Gattaca reflection – ESEM150: The Perfect Human

  • Vincent states in the movie that “it’s illegal to discriminate – ‘genoism’ it’s called – but no one takes the laws seriously.” This is in fact one of the standard criticisms of genetic profiling: if we have genetic data on people, then employers or insurance companies will use that data to minimize financial risk. Assuming that this will be true, would the benefits of genetic profiling still outweigh the costs?
  • Wouldn’t every parent want to ensure that their child was perfect and had the attributes of physical attractiveness, intelligence and athletic prowess to be able to do whatever he or she wanted in life? If so, why is the society portrayed in this film so devoid of happiness, vitality and fun?

The genetic technology in the movie has given the human society possibilities to give their children “their best chance” by providing them with wanted attributes. However, as the creator intentionally described, the world has an ominous color. I believe that the writers were trying to point out that the perfection that we are all seeking for will not bring happiness or social development.
The question we should ask first is what happiness is? How do we define what happiness means and what will bring happiness? People often associate happiness with success in life, achievements, ranks. From an early age, children are told by parents and adults that you have to succeed in life to be happy. We are often showing the picture of working-class citizens as unhappy. People with jobs like doctors, lawyer, businessman are considered admirable, while people who are janitors, restaurant workers are seen as lesser. We presume that people with this kind of job are inferior and that they are lazy or unskilled. When you look into the matter, we can see that this is only what society portraits. This issue is not a matter of who is inferior in some ways but how we treat each other. There are many examples of people who are considered poor but are far happier than rich people. Their happiness is not measured by the number of their bank accounts nor by the size their houses.
People who have many things, their expectations are high. For people who have little, they hope for little. Therefore, the definition of happiness is variable. In my opinion, happiness is being grateful for what you have, being happy is being at peace, being your true self. In searching for the meaning of happiness, I found myself wondered: If I disappear tomorrow, what will you leave in this world? Do my existence is necessary at all? Can one person change the world? I think that each person, no matter how much society believes they are capable, influences everyone around. The interaction we make each day can shape, influence, harm or save a person. Perhaps, what happiness means is to leave some meaning of your existence in the world. We can achieve this by inspiring, cherish others. Small acts of kindness from each person is a powerful force.
One may argue that one can reach their full potential if they know what they are naturally strong at and this can be done by looking at genetic testing. However, we forget that genetic testing can only give us probabilities and that human is far more complicated than just a set of number. There is more to us than just number; there are passion, love, emotion. How can you measure the potential and the impact of a person, what gives one the rights to decide what other faiths are? Human has always been defying against the odd. There are many real-life examples like Helen Keller, Nick Vujicic, etc. Looking at statistics, they should have lived a life of dependence on others. However, they defied their faiths and had made incredible feats; they inspired other and broke the barriers that we assume. There are millions of other similar stories around the world. They all prove that our will can overcome obstacles. They did not succumb to their given “disadvantage.” If they can’t do things the same ways we do it, they try to find different ways to achieve what we can and follow what they believe to surpass us.
Another point is that we can not accept failure how can we grow. I believe that though sadness, failure is horrible at first, they will build you up into being a better person. A person who will sympathize with others. A person who will not back down in front of unimaginable challenges. Furthermore, how can we appreciate and savor the sweet taste of victory and success without knowing the ache of failure?
Suppose that genetic testing does not bring happiness but it can bring other benefits like decreasing financial risk in business, I still believe that the benefit can not get out weight the cost.

When we have genetic information, we can misuse this information and change our ways in treating each other. In business, it is all about work, about making money; financial risk and possible benefits need to be taken into consideration. Under this logic, we can say that having certain genetic information is a huge benefit that is of top priority. However, a business does not stand alone; it stands in a community, society. Business is ultimately entangled with other aspects of society. Thus, we need to be a human being, before we are businessmen. The two side of the scale is profit and basic human rights. Profit is something we create to make life easier; it is a tool made by the human. There is no comparison it with a human being.
Also, if discrimination is allowed in workplace (where society functions), it will spread to other aspects. Like in the movie, genetic testing is all it takes to get into a prestigious space program. We can see clearly how the detective discriminates against an “invalid” – a parallel is racial profiling in our present. It also spreads to the decision of choosing partners. We can see that these testings allow for discrimination to happen.
These discrimination disguise them self as a way to help people. Though their society may have more scientific breakthroughs, they go back into the past morally. Looking at the present, from the viewpoint of an Asian, we are moving forward: many people were used to be considered as mere objects to be traded, women were seen as a pot of money just waiting to be sold to her husband. It changes now, but there are still discriminations, norms that force people to go through. From reality, we can already understand that laws can not be made to inhibit people from doing certain things but it does not hinder people thoughts, and the actions stem from beliefs. For a better society, we need to get past this hurdle and see that there are faults we currently cant see. There needs to be a drastic change in the mind of every citizen.
To sum up, the technology of genetic testing and designed babies, as shown in the movie, though may brings some benefits to society, ultimately, they do not create long-lasting happiness or social development.