Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Can we all become gods?





Nope.  You can't do it.

That's what the U.S. Supreme Court said just a week or so ago.  You cannot patent human DNA.  One can, however, claim artificially copied DNA as intellectual property.

I can empathize with the opposition.  The very notion of claiming ownership of what is essentially a living part of someone is at best shifty and at worst a shade of slavery.  That said, this move does not impair the work being done.  While I share a degree of trepidation over fucking around with the basic building blocks of life, I believe there is good to be had.

Historically, we have aimed the bulk of our technological development outward.  Meaning, we use it to improve our surroundings and make our outer lives more comfortable.  But what if we focused the same innovations inward?  What if we took active control of human evolution?  You can be in the driver's seat, not genetics or hereditary chance. Up until now, I have mostly written about implants such as the kind that might allow direct computer interface or streams of nanobots within you, wiping out cancer cells upon sight.  What I'm talking about here is modifying the biological stuff of the body itself.

We're already doing it on a small scale.  Antidepressants (supposedly) correct chemical imbalances in the brain that affect mood, steroids build muscle, human growth hormone enhances performance, and Viagra...well, we all know what that does.  Biotech researchers are working to discover how to turn off the aging gene, allowing for people to live longer and to perhaps even have children much later in their lives. 

Then there's DARPA.  Wow, the stuff they have on the drawing table (if not the test phase) would astound you as always.  They're finding ways to alter a soldier's metabolism so they don't have to eat as much, developing fast coagulating blood, and substances that can block even the most intense pain in less than ten seconds.  It wouldn't surprise me if they were working on how to regenerate limbs.  This is just the beginning.  When we begin to truly alter genetics, that's when all kinds of doors will open.

Will this allow us to one day become super-powered gods?  Could be.  I think we're a long way from that and such applications would no doubt come with a hefty financial and mayhap physiological price tag.  Will there be downsides?  There always are.  I remain undaunted, however.  The idea of being in control of my physiology is just too damn appealing.  If anything, I believe it will make me appreciate life a great deal more.

So let's head towards the Posthuman Age.


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