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Sci Tech    H3'ed 7/23/09

Science Phantasy

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Originally posted:

This is a splash page just for imagination's sake. Genetic engineering could free us from genetic diseases and the limits of the human form. Humanity won't be at the end of its evolution but just the beginning. The barrier Hawkins discusses that limits the size the human brain can evolve to-that is, the size of the birth canal-will no longer be a problem. We could grow giant brains in tanks and hook them up to electronics to link them to the outside world. Likewise, we could grow bodies without brains for the independent brains to control remotely. Experientially, the individuals would be in those bodies, but their brains would be stored somewhere safe and could increase in size as much as desired. Individuals could own multiple bodies, and the bodies of multiple species. If a body died or got destroyed somehow, we'd just replace it. There'd be no reason to fear death or disease again, even on the physical level. We could also incorporate AI and link them to our brains. We could use nanites to repair our system and do countless other things. Through nanotechnology we'd be able to store information much more efficiently-all the writings of humanity in a chip that could fit in your hand.

And as for our bodies, through the miracle of genetic engineering we could increase human potentiality to heights never before thought possible, with all the gifts of every species and so much more. How would you like to see with the accuracy of an eagle? Perceive ultraviolet light like butterflies? Smell with the precision of a bloodhound? Have the reflexes of a fly? Generate electricity like an electric eel to feel your environment the way that they do? Sense magnetic fields like bees, frogs, and other animals? Echolocate like dolphins or bats? Change the color and texture of your skin in elaborate patterns at will like octopi? Regrow limbs like salamanders? We could produce spinal tissue that regenerated the way other nerve cells do. Stem cell research may allow us to create bodies that can regenerate organs on their own as well as resist aging. We could digest everything from grass to raw meat. We could incorporate chloroplasts into our skin cells so we could absorb sunlight for energy like plants. Through studying chemotrophs, we may be able to find ways to absorb energy directly from organic and inorganic material independently of the sun. We could breath underwater with gills and hold our breath for long periods of time (if entering a situation without oxygen) like underwater mammals. We could manipulate the genome to maximize for intelligence (for our brains in vats), strength, longevity, speed, agility, immunity, resistance to heat and cold, and any number of other desirable attributes. We would create durable, self-regenerating bodies.

There would be no need for huge cities that destroy the environment. We could bring our laboratories deep underground and leave the surface of the earth to regenerate after millennia of our abuse. We would also do our part to help dismantle and clean up our waste. The structures on the surface would be few and environmentally friendly. Built not in place of the mountain and the forest but around and in them. We could live in nature, happily and with no fear of being overcome by natural disasters or conditions. Genetically we have grown weak in our cities and our societies. The weak have survived and disease is rampant. That's not to say that our more humane style of life hasn't been worth it-simply that it's come at a cost. But this will be of no concern anymore. Our genetically engineered children will all be far stronger than we could have ever hoped for by natural selection, and the living could be converted through the use of retroviruses and/or organ and tissue replacement (grown individually in the lab for the specific recipient) enhanced by nanotechnology.

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And if we look even farther into the future, what's possible? Imagine organisms completely integrated with nanites and thus capable of restructuring life from the ground up. Imagine minds for which, being threatened by nothing, the feelings of fear, anger, hatred, frustration, disgust, boredom, disapproval, shame, despair, interest in dominance through violence, and all forms of pain have been reduced to a few pale shades. And, in contrast, the feelings of love, joy, curiosity, aesthetic appreciation, bliss, humor, interest in creative cooperation, and all forms of pleasure have been expanded to a pallet of incomprehensibly vast breadth, distinction, and intensity. Imagine the speed, memory, and processing power of the vastest supercomputers coupled with the intuition and creativity of the most profound artists, scientists, and sages known to humanity and you'll begin to appreciate a fraction of the ability of these minds.

And as for their bodies? Externally they could take on any form they wished, being able to shapeshift at will. Internally they'd be mostly gelatinous, having no organs since any drop of their substance could perform the functions that the independent organs once specialized in. They'd be virtually indestructible, with a nearly infinite regenerative capacity. The bodies would be "cold blooded" in the sense that they'd waste no energy modifying their body temperatures-being capable of surviving easily and comfortably in practically any extreme of hot or cold. They could absorb energy in practically any form-light, heat, electricity, seismic motion, organic material, or non-organic material. Or they could lay dormant without energy input, in deep hibernation virtually indefinitely. A body would be able to "digest" practically any material-even things like diamonds, plastics, metals, radioactive materials, etc.-as well as produce practically any substance, product, or organism, grown from the ground up within itself.

These organisms would be able to read and understand DNA and other complex molecular structures merely through absorbing them. They would compose DNA sequences like we compose music or write books. Every drop of their substance would see, feel, smell, taste, hear, process radio signals, echolocate, sense through electricity, etc, with a sensitivity, breadth, and precision far greater than any organism currently living. They could turn these senses on and off at will. And, as mentioned before, they would feel practically no pain or disgust, so the whole of the world would be a banquet for them to enjoy.

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When making love they would melt their bodies and minds into one another-their substances intertwining, twisting, sensing, stirring, in a ballet of ecstasy more complicated and beautiful than anything we could possibly comprehend. Afterwards, they'd emerge from this state all the more empowered as distinct individuals. And the number of individuals that could unite in this manner at any one time would be unlimited.

When they wished to reproduce (which might be seldom considering that they'd have no natural limit to their lifespans, or might be frequent considering they could inhabit virtually any territory and wouldn't need to tax their ecosystem in any way), all the individuals intertwined (or a single individual on its own) would collaborate to intentionally produce an offspring with all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses, the best aspects of themselves.

A single one of these individuals would be able to travel the vacuum of space independent of a craft (though they would probably go in groups), inhabit the most inhospitable terrains, and produce organisms which could together establish a viable ecosystem tailored to the regions characteristics (writing the code and growing the bodies for modified lichen, grass, trees, rodents, fish, cockroaches, etc-or any number of newly imagined creations). In this way the solar system, galaxy, galaxy cluster, etc, at large could be colonized by life and made into a far more interesting place.

If you identify with the message of this article, please email it to people, tell your friends, even print out copies to pass around. Together we can raise awareness. Thank you.


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Ben Dench graduated valedictorian of his class from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in the Spring Semester of 2007 with a B.A. in philosophy (his graduation speech, which received high praise, is available on YouTube). He is currently (more...)
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