Welcome to the last 5-Shot Friday of 2016.
In retrospect, the main underlying theme of many of this year’s posts has been science fiction isn’t fiction, it’s here. A number of cutting edge companies and institutions have products in the market, and are accelerating their offerings in healthcare as well as direct to consumers. Singularity University has been one of the leaders in keeping track of these developments, as well as cultivating talent and companies in this space.
The article by Raya Bidshahri is as nice a note to end 2016 on, as we look forward to the new year:
“For the first time one species, Homo sapiens, could consciously control its destiny on this planet. Humans have been shaping ourselves, the environment and other species for thousands of years. Soon, we’ll be able to fully control our own biology too, transcending our natural limitations.”
“According to roboticist and author Daniel Wilson, “You can graph human evolution, which is mostly a straight line, but we do get better and change over time, and you can graph technological evolution, which is a line that’s going straight up. They are going to intersect each other at some point, and that’s happening now…By controlling the genetic language of life, we can more directly control nature to our benefit. This is already happening. Just last year, gene editing saved a girl dying of leukemia for the first time, highlighting the potential for genetic engineering to enhance medical treatment.”
In parallel with increased capacity, there’s growing awareness of the need for increased caution. The Overdiagnosis movement in primary care medicine is a prime example – with every tech development there are inherent limitations and reasons to NOT use it willy nilly, as more harm than good has actually, quantifiably resulted.
“Many have raised concerns over the negative applications of genetic engineering, including eugenics-like movements, bioweapons, superbugs and super-soldiers. There are serious social and ethical concerns about the kind of legal controls that are to be placed on research in the field. There’s also uncertainty around the potential unintended consequences of genetic manipulation.”
“How should the limits of research be decided? Who should have access to such technologies? How can we ensure that survival of the fittest does not become survival of the wealthy? How are we to decide which traits are desirable or not? These are significant questions we must grapple with in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm of modifying our biology.”
“But the potential benefits of modifying biology are revolutionary. Doctors would gain access to a powerful tool to tackle disease, allowing us to live healthier lives. We might extend our lifespan and modify our brain’s building blocks to become more intelligent and capable.”
“Stephen Hawking notes that “with genetic engineering, we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA, and improve the human race.”
“Genetic engineering, biotechnology and neurotechnology are catalyzing the powerful transition from biological to digital evolution—and the latter will be exponentially faster and more powerful. It’ll soon be up to us what direction we choose.”
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