by Phil Geusz
©2007 Phil Geusz
Its a common discussion whenever two anthro-fans meet: When is the tech going to be here to make them for real? And when it does arrive, will it be legally and ethically permitted?
These are both excellent questions, I think. Of the two, tech is the easiest to deal with. As is so often the case, the answer to the question is largely a matter of semantics. What, for example, is and is not an anthro? Use a liberal definition, and the short answer is, Now. There are a number of humans today who are undergoing various cosmetic and surgical techniques to appear anthro-like; of these, the most famous is probably Stalking Cat. Ive also heard rumors about individuals in Europe whove undergone full-body tattooing as leopards or cheetahs, though Ive never received any confirmation of this. Additionally, plastic surgeons have speculated for years about fitting people with real, living wings and tails. In some cases, the surgeons have even claimed that the new parts could be made functional (though, of course, actual flight would be impossible).
As to the legalities and ethics, thats a whole nother issue. Even Stalking Cats relatively mild body modifications are ethically controversial, as his Wikipedia article mentions, and I suspect that any would-be imitators are going to have a hard time finding a doc or even a tattoo artist willing to take things so far. Given that things are ethically so gray even when the subject is not only willing but eager for anthropomorphization, its hard to imagine that things will go the other direction, from animal to human, any time soon. After all, you cant ask a squirrel if it would like to be uplifted. Even worse, genetic modification (at least for the foreseeable future) can take place only on the unborn, and failures have the potential to be extremely distressing to both uplifted and uplifters alike. Its not hard to picture such a tragedy
Im sorry, the man in the white lab coat says to the little golden-retriever girl/puppy. But you just didnt work out. Youll be dead in three months.
Mama! the failed experiment replies. What does dead mean?
Such possibilities make for very, very conservative genetic engineersand rightly so.
For this reason, Im convinced, for a long time to come the only real-life anthropomorphic animals seen in this universe will be altered humans, such as Stalking Cat. Thats the bad news. But, theres good news, too. Cosmetic techniques are getting better every day, and plastic surgeons braver and braver. Society is becoming more accepting of radical body modifications as well; piercings which would have been seen as horrid aberrations or even mutilations in my youth barely merit a second glance today, and I expect the trend to do nothing but accelerate. Whenever human technology has grown enough to open up a new canvas, willing artists have always been found. The human body itself, I predict, will prove no exception, and I further predict that in the fullness of time anthropomorphization will prove to be among the least radical and controversial alterations made.
So, while I dont expect any true animal-uplifts any time soon, I do anticipate encountering more and better Stalking Cats walking the streets as the years go by and anthro-fans grow braver and more confident of their place in society. And, as surely as night follows day, early adopters will encourage the development of new and better tech, which in turn will make the alterations more desirable, and so on, and so on. It will merely be yet another episode in the endless cycle of learning and growth that has characterized Man since he first fashioned a flint ax, and which someday will carry his highly-modified children to the stars themselves.