It would be hypocritical to say a preemptive solution to all of these problems is bad, while we do everything in our powers to solve them later in life.
Better and synthetically improved people will inherit the Earth.
We all played PAC-Man. Some still do. Video games brought a lot of fun in our lives, created many good memories of times spend among family members and friends, helped mend some broken relationships. From the perspective of today’s video games, PAC-Man may look too simple and old-fashioned, but it was a step that led to Xbox and PlayStation.
Austen Heinz, founder and CEO of Cambrian Genomics, suggests new generations will be playing games of life creation on their phones and computers. At the beginning, it may all look simple and rudimentary, but in a few decades it may turn into close-to-reality game. Biodeveloping could become our favorite pastime. Not only we could digitally synthesize new life forms, and watch them evolve in a virtual world, we might even (as he admits to have done) create some new microbial life forms and make them fight each other, or do whatever we find amusing. Just like that episode of The Simpsons, when an alien broadcasting network accidentally discloses the fact that our planet is nothing more than a reality show, which is about to be shut down.
But, there are some much more serious applications of biodeveloping, after all. As Heinz predicts, one day our planet may be inhabited only by synthetically engineered creatures, including us. All naturally evolved organisms will cease to exist. Not by an accident, but by our design. And, that may not be a bad thing.
However repulsive that thought might sound, there are some pretty good arguments in his favor. The most important one is that almost 50% of the DNA, the building block of the whole life on the planet Earth (in the whole Universe, as far as we know), has some inherent flaws in it. Those flaws are a product of genetic mutations, some of which have proved to be good for our evolutionary development, but some of them are responsible for most deformities, diseases and ailments that plague not only the human race, but the whole natural world.
With all available science and technology, we are still struggling to cure even the most common diseases. With the exception of some really cool surgical interventions and advanced medical treatments, basically most of the time the only solution we have come up with so far is to drop a bomb on our bacteria, or a cancer, and kill the good guys along with the bad ones. Not to mention that natural selection favors some people while unjustly punishes the others. What if we could fix those mistakes, before they even occur, and provide everyone equal opportunities in this world?
Well, it will happen, one way or the other. As Heinz nonchalantly says, it will start with our kids. Everyone wants them to have the best chances in this world. If people are paying for the best schools, private tuition, medical treatments, even cosmetic plastic surgeries for their children, do you really think they won’t pay to make them smarter, stronger and above all – healthier, even before they are born? You might say NO right now, but when social pressure builds up after some time, that would mean you are willingly crippling them.
With their groundbreaking DNA-printing technology, Cambrian Genomics is paving the way to make all this possible. They are able to synthesize, sequence and print DNA much faster and cheaper than any other laboratory in the world, which is helping democratize biodeveloping and speeding-up the process of research and development of new drugs and treatments for genetic diseases. Ultimately, this technology will enable us to control the personal health, by simply cutting the bad sectors of the DNA and replacing them with the good ones.
Of course there are some ethical issues about all this, but let’s leave those things aside for a moment, and just wonder how far we as a human race have gone. Ancient Greeks, for which we all have a deep respect, who laid the foundations of our civilization, did not regard their gods as flawless, out of this world entities. They worshiped them, but they respected the dignity of a man. They fought against the wrongdoings of superior beings and natural forces.
If there is a significant mistake in our genetic code, shouldn’t we try to fix it? After all, we are doing it already with all the medications, cosmetic treatments and surgeries which cost billions of dollars. It would be hypocritical to say a preemptive solution to all of these problems is bad, while we do everything in our powers to solve them later in life.