Should we engineer our own Biology?
In the early 19th century a Hungarian agricultural engineer named Karl Ereky coined the term biotechnology. He defined it as
“The use of biological processes, organisms, or systems to manufacture products intended to improve the quality of human life.”
Agriculture can be considered an early form of biotechnology with farmers introducing their crops to new environments and selectively breeding them. Currently, modern biotechnology includes genetic engineering. The future of biotechnology excites me, but I do have some concerns.
Do we as humans need to go down this road in order to evolve. An example I like using is when the world was just inhabited by single-celled organisms then multicellular organisms came along and history shows which organism rose to the top of the food chain. So if we look at history, evolution and adaptation are key for species survival. Taking that into consideration possible being able to genetically modify our own genes will be the next step into human evolution. I feel being able to be resistant to certain diseases would be advantageous for our future generation, in turn, translating into longer healthier lives. Not only could we impact the future of human longevity and health but also athletics. Imagining being able during pre-birth to gift a child the ability to be born a fighter ensuring in the future when this child gets older he/she will be predisposed to being a world-class fighter. In future where gene editing is the norm not having a “designer babies (genetically enhanced babies)” could be looked at as crazy and not giving a child the necessary abilities, they need to compete with their genetically enhanced peers. My biggest concern is the future generation being classed by genetics. That to me would be like making a solution and it indirectly causing more problems. So the question is should we engineer our own Biology, although we might be a way before it would become a reality, I do think asking these questions now and thinking about the answers would give a head start on any problems that may arise.
In China, the latest news is about a research team led by He Jiankui. the team used gene editing to produce the first HIV resistant humans. The scientific community backlashed due to the experiment being done in secrecy. However seeing that we are this close to gene editing, given the opportunity would you edit your own genes?