Key4hope

Miracle of Biology

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What If We Plan Our Future?
 
Chapter 3

 HOW BIOTECHNOLOGY WILL ALTER THE HUMAN CONDITION

"Biotechnology promises the greatest revolution in human history...it will outdistance atomic power and computers in its effect on our everyday lives," writes Michael Crichten in his bestseller Jurassic Park. He goes on to explain that biotechnology will touch our health, our food, and our environment. Advancements in this field alone over the next 100 years will be astounding.

Major Prediction No. 4: The benefits of biotechnology will allow for all humans in the developed world to be whole and completely healthy by the end of the century.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the kidney impaired will be revived - thanks in large part to advancements in biotechnology (this includes nanotechnology), along with the assistance of the Mega-Computer Age.

Cloning factories in 2065 will make huge profits from mass producing hearts, livers and eyes. Artwork by Alessandra Andrisani.

Scientists are on the verge of routinely cloning internal body parts from a person's own cells. Certainly this will be among the greatest medical advancements this century. It cannot be over-emphasized that once we can clone our OWN organs - such as our kidneys or heart - we have overcome the tremendous problems of organ rejection and organ availability. With younger versions of our own organs in our bodies, well, think of the obvious health benefits.

2099


Among bio-technologists' many goals will be to regrow injured or lost body parts such as arms or legs. This will be done by the end of this century. Eventually all birth defects will be rectified. Spinal cords will be cloned to allow the paralyzed to walk again. And doctors should warn young diabetics to hang on (to exercise, eat right and take their insulin) as cloners will be able to duplicate a healthy pancreas within the next 35 years.

HUMANS AS MACHINES

"If you want a new heart, all you do is check into a clinic where they'll unplug your old bionic heart and plug in a new one. Put a lot of 'mileage' on your bionic kidneys? No problem. Trade them in for new ones. Need a synthetic blood transfusion? Well, you get the picture. Any body part, including sections of the brain, can be replaced. As for myself, I am 64.9 percent machine and synthetic material. I'm a comfortable 124 years old and, like many of my elderly friends, relatives and colleagues, I do not expect to die in the near future."

S.H. Crimley

21st Century Philosopher – July 1, 2087

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN/WOMAN

WILL BECOME REALITY

Prediction No. 15: With the exception of the price tag, people can expect The Six Million Dollar Man or Woman to be "born" by 2065. Mass production of bionic parts will reduce the cost. 

Future generations of this artificial heart will be superior to nature's model and put an end to heart attacks.

Cloned kidneys, livers, eyes and hearts will compete with bionic organs in the 2050s but, by the 2070s, bionics will win out as mechanical backup systems using nanotechnology will prove superior to cloned organs.


2070


Bionics will also allow the average citizen to run faster than Jerry Rice, lift heavier objects than Arnold, and be able to leap over -- well, maybe not tall buildings in a single bound -- but certainly over tall objects.

BRAIN CHIPS

Major Prediction No. 5: Brain chips will greatly enhance human intelligence and lead to greater technological and social advancements later this century.


2080


Hate math? Have trouble with biology? Can't handle English grammar? Not to worry. By 2080, Brain Chips (computer chips far more sophisticated than today's models) will routinely be inserted into people's brains. The obvious results will be much smarter people – which this world will need to accomplish the goals laid out in this book.

There will be great debates over the use of brain chips with many arguing that people's brains should not be tampered with. But knowledge such as math, science and language skills will be welcomed by many. These computer chips will also improve memory and give people the ability to learn more and learn more quickly. 

“My brain chip malfunctioned! 2 + 2 isn’t 5!” Brain chips will make us significantly smarter in the second half of the 21st Century. And we need smarter people to solve the world’s most serious problems of overpopulation, environmental degradation, food shortages, human rights abuses and war. Artwork by Alessandra Andrisani.

Advanced models in the late-Century will significantly alter the level of intelligence of the average human, thus allowing brain chips to make the Top 5 in greatest technological achievements of the 21st Century.

DESIGNER CHILDREN

Prediction No. 16: By 2050, parents will be able to design their children right down to the freckles.

We'll start with Mom's eyes. Then add Dad's hair color, grandma's button nose and Uncle Jason's mouth.

Breaking the genetic code will allow scientists to "manipulate" the appropriate genes before they’re joined together in the lab and then placed in the mother's womb or in an artificial womb.


2050


Kids of 2050 will be designed by their parents. If you want a baby with brown hair, green eyes and dimples, it will happen.

Of course, there will be a revolt led by the religious and Conservatives who demand that we do not tamper with God's ultimate design. And most will continue to have children the “old-fashioned way.” But genetic engineering is a lot like nuclear proliferation: once Pandora's Box has been opened…

THE 500-YEAR-OLD HUMAN
IS COMING

Major Prediction No. 6: People will transfer their brains to sophisticated robot bodies several hundred years from now. They will live an extremely long time – perhaps 500+ years.

The possibility exists that people in 2216 will live up to 500 years as some residents will transplant their brains into robot bodies.  Frankensteinism, no doubt! However, many citizens living in the 23rd Century and beyond will embrace this option. 


2216

Try to imagine what medical technology and robotics will be like 200 years from now. By 2216, it is likely technology will possess the ability for doctors and technicians to safely remove a brain and place it into a robot body while ensuring that blood stored in the robot’s body satisfactorily sustains the brain.

To help people live a long and healthy life, a computer (far more powerful than today’s models) will be embedded in the robot’s body to periodically send vitamins and nutrients to the brain. Also cell revitalization techniques not possible today may be common place by 2216.

By that time, technology will have the ability to interpret messages from the brain and translate them into computer language so the intended robot part will perform the desired task. Certainly, the connections between the brain and the robot body are too complicated for our generation to comprehend but it is safe to say that these connections will be amazing.

Thanks to advanced robotics, 200 years from now it will be impossible to distinguish robots from real people. Perhaps, when a 23rd Century resident passes another in a hallway, they’ll wonder if the other is completely human or mostly robot. Sometimes they’ll guess wrong.

Far into the future, residents may also be able to choose a robot that possesses the physical characteristics they desire such as height, race, sex, freckles or dimples. Also by 2216, some residents will periodically change their robot bodies – just by having a robot technician remove their encased brain and place it into another robot body. This means that on a Tuesday, for example, a resident can be a Caucasian male while transforming into an African American female on Wednesday.

Certainly, the social implications of people exiting their bodies to enter machines will be tremendous. Will we view ourselves as human? Fortunately people are an ingenious and resourceful species.  Robot builders by 2216 will be able to duplicate every action and response of the human body. These robots will possess the ability to simulate the pleasure centers of the brain. Interactions between humans in robot bodies, including love making, will thrive beyond 2216.

This prediction may seem like science fiction but many 23rd Century residents will choose to place their brain in a robotic body. People have an instinct for survival and this option could keep people alive for 500 to perhaps thousands of years. However, undoubtedly, some future residents will decline to go robotic and die a natural death to move on to a better life.

*   *   *

Analysis: The book Futureshock stressed that people would not adapt to rapid technical change. While looking back at change, we can see its speed. Humans have been on this planet for about 4 million years but we’ve only had the airplane for just over a hundred years. The computer’s new, TV is new, robotics is new but people have adjusted to these changes. We’ve not gone crazy – for the most part.

So as we advance in the 21st Century with artificial hearts, brain chips and face transplants, so too will we adapt. And while it should be our ultimate goal to improve the human condition, we must be cognizant of the negative social consequences that may come with these changes.

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