Soon, a greater proportion of the human population on planet Earth would be replaced by scientifically redesigned human beings. Does this sound stranger than fiction to you? Will you rather opt for improved humanity if you could?
Sadly, many of us have opinions about how we can boost up society and government. But, what about just re-engineering the people themselves, to make them more advanced physically and intellectually? Would better bodies lead to better people?
An amazing Rael-Science post says one person who can turn such musings into reality is George Church, the Harvard genetics professor famous for trying to resurrect woolly mammoths, among many other accomplishments. Church also made a list of genes that could be targeted through genetic manipulation for the purpose of designing a new version of humans.
Here are some selections from the Transhumanist Wishlist, drawing upon the philosophical movement of transhumanism that calls for using technology to enhance human physiology and intellect, leading to a transformation of what it means to be human:
- LRP5 – hacking this gene could give people extra-strong bones, as research has shown a mutation of LRP5 can lead to bones that don’t break. The tweak might make it hard to swim, however, as denser bones also mean lower buoyancy.
- MSTN – messing with the myostatin protein could result in larger, leaner muscles, and cure such diseases as muscular dystrophy.
- FAAH-OUT – the amusingly named FAAH-OUT gene mutation was linked to insensitivity to pain. Wouldn’t you like to have such a super ability?
- ABCC11 – modifying this gene could really pay off socially, as it’s been linked to low odor production. Currently, only 2% of the people in the world carry the mutated version, which helps their armpits not produce any unpleasant smells.
- GRIN2B – playing with this gene can lead to enhancing memory and learning abilities.
- BDKRB2 – figuring out how to affect this gene can lead to people who can hold their breath under water for much longer. It figures prominently in the abilities of the indigenous Bajau people (“Sea Nomads”) of Southeast Asia, who are known for amazing feats of deep diving.
·You can check out the full transhumanist “wish list” here, along with additional resources that include studies of specific genes and their effects. While some of these hacks are already being attempted, more discussion and development is necessary. Church sees that future doctors would be able to receive transplants with hacked genetic modifications.
·How long till that future? Scientists around the world are racing to make genetic advancements, generally before their governments catch up. Gene-edited human babies are already being born.Chinese scientists were able to edit the gene CCR5 to make two baby girls more resistant to HIV. On the flip side, they made the girls more susceptible to the West Nile Virus. Finding the right balance will be crucial if we’re to become superhuman.