Richard Hayes has written about a topic that most of us have rarely heard about, but have probably seen in a movie once before. In the 1950’s, after Watson and Crick had discovered DNA structures, it was predicted that one day we would be able to genetically enhance our children. Since this prediction, scientists have been discovering specific genes that can alter such areas as: reduction of the risk of depression, potentially doubling life span, growing taller and so forth. Richard goes on to mention that the possibilities of genetic modifications are great, since there are 30,000 genes in the human genome.
Mr Hayes sites these claims of genome bioengineering from science magazine articles, University scientific studies, and biotech pharmaceutical company reports. On the same breath, as he talks about all the miracles that can be accomplished by these high tech advancements, he describes the dark side of leveraging these breakthroughs. Richard worries about this technology only being used to prevent medical conditions and not for a hugely profitable cosmetic and enhancement consumer product. Once the first genetically modified child is born, it could lead to a chain of events that could never be undone or controlled.
This new wave of bioengineered humans would no longer be playing by the rules of natural selection we all know. These new super humans could regard the non-genetically modified humans as inferior and see themselves as the masters. This potentially can lead the world into dark ages, where they would be the masters and everyone else, their slaves. Hayes certainly does make some bold claims, but most of which are backed by reputable scientific data. He references University of California studies, where it has been proven that genes are related to life span.
When it comes to the potential for genome engineering, each of Hayes logical arguments is supported by a credible source. When it comes to genetically modifying “things”, we hear about it all the time. Now-a-days, we hear about the miracles of stem cell research, cloning your dog and genetically modified foods. What Hayes is speaking of sounds completely plausible. The next step after successfully bioengineering your food, would be to bioengineer your family pet, then your children. I would want a dog that doesn’t chew up my slippers, dig holes in my garden; or a child that was immune to disease and had a perfect memory.
Wouldn’t you? This technology would have to be made available to every person on the planet. If it were not available to all, it probably would be misused, in a multitude of ways. I do think this is something we must do. We must keep progressing as a species, even if it means engineering ourselves. We could engineer our kids to be extremely intelligent, live twice as long and be immune to disease. How else are we going to explore the cosmos to discover a new planet to settle on? This article started off as an intriguing read and ended up in a dark twisted world, more like something you would see in a sci-fi movie.
It is hard to say how things would exactly play out, if we allowed gene modification. Richard makes all sorts of assumptions about how the world would turn out if it is allowed. He talks about how it would be impossible to allow everyone access to this technology. A few years ago a team of academics gathered to try and figure out a way to make this possible. They determined that it would not be feasible to bring the new eugenic technologies to everyone. How do they know this to be? Once this technology is perfected and ready for mass production, it could be as cheap as an entry level cell phone these days.