In November 2018, journalist Julie Brown of the Miami Herald published an important three-part report called “Perversion of Justice,” describing the case of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Brown’s reporting strongly indicates that Epstein’s punishment appeared relatively small when compared to the crimes that were actually committed. The report, in part, led to further examination of the case and a recent indictment by the Southern District of New York. Eventually the Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, resigned his cabinet position over questions about his role as a prosecutor in the case a decade earlier.
If the account of the crimes isn’t horrific enough, the New York Times reported last week that Epstein used his wealth to speak to prominent scientists about his goal to spread his DNA world-wide through impregnating groups of women at his New Mexico ranch. In what reads like a creepy sci-fi novel, the articlereports: “Mr. Epstein’s vision reflected his longstanding fascination with what has become known as transhumanism: the science of improving the human population through technologies like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Critics have likened transhumanism to a modern-day version of eugenics, the discredited field of improving the human race through controlled breeding.”
Epstein used his wealth and influence to ingratiate himself to the scientific community, according to the Times. Prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz is quoted in the article: “Everyone speculated about whether these scientists were more interested in his views or more interested in his money.” Not surprisingly, several of the scientists contacted by the Times had a less than positive view of Epstein’s scientific musings.
One of the appeals of transhumanism is its goal to make humanity better through technology. Living easily past 100 without all of the ailments of old age seems like a worthy goal. However, as is often the case, technology runs ahead of morality. In Jeffrey Epstein’s case, it contradicts our understanding of basic human rights to think that the future belongs solely to amoral billionaires and the scientists they enlist in their causes.