Evolution, as mapped out by Charles Darwin, has run its course on humans.
Humans will determine their own course of development from this point on.
I have created a list of two great periods of human history, stretching from our distant past and extending well into the future to explain this idea. The two periods are:
1. The Great Age of Evolution.
2. The Great Age of Self-Improvement.
1. Great Age Of Evolution
It took millions if not hundreds of millions of years for humans to evolve. The crowning achievement of that process was a body that evolved to house our brains. There is nothing more complex in the whole universe than the human brain. (Let’s hear it for our brain.)
Up to this point the brain’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of organizations like families, governments, religions, factories, and schools which helped to keep us safe and facilitated progress.
However, the next step would make these others pale in comparison.
2. The Great Age Of Self Improvement
With the ability to study the human body at a molecular level, we have started the Great Age of Self Improvement.
As smart as our brains have been, there remains stubborn limitations placed on us. For example, there are genetic mutations that cause us to be programmed for disease and death.
With this, the power of evolution hits its limit. If we are to advance any further, we need to take matters into our own hands. We need to create a new and improved human.
A. Different Kinds Of Self Improvement
There are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. Now there’s only one – taxes. Somewhere in the last fifty years we started challenging the notion that death will always be automatic.
It looks like we humans have decided we are going to reengineer ourselves. For me this has three parts to it. One, do no harm; two, push it; and three, change it.
1) Do No Harm.
Nature has us programmed to live a certain length of time. Otherwise, if that is altered, we do it ourselves by taking in environmentally toxic substances like hot tobacco smoke.
To counter this we take up practices that improve our quality of life. We watch our calories, improve our exercise routines, avoid acute stress, and work to improve our personal addictions.
To me this is a do no harm strategy. In this instance, we work with nature to ensure that we do not negatively impact our otherwise biologically determined future. We live in harmony and balance with nature.
2) Push It
Over the last century the average WORLD life expectancy from birth has increased 100%. Yes, 100%. At the turn of the nineteenth century the average life expectancy for a person was 30 years old. As of 2010 it was 67 years old.
We have caused this to happen by improving our technology that in turn stretches life expectancy. We have sanitized our delivery rooms and made spare parts for our bodies. We have improved our medicines (think blood pressure medicine), our diets, and our medical procedures.
3) Change It
This is where things get interesting. I believe as a species we have decided to change the human blueprint. We have concluded that in addition to doing no harm to our bodies, and improving technology to push out our longevity, we are now prepared to reengineer ourselves in order to control life and death, disease and health, height and weight, muscle and bone, emotions and intelligence.
The advancement in this direction has been a bit slow, but stubbornly steady.
1960’s and The Pill
Our first attempts at managing nature was the birth control pill, or just simply “The Pill.” Introduced in the mid 1960’s, women, not nature, determined when they would have babies. Along with millions of young female baby boomers, I can remember my wife taking the pill. Little did I discern that this was the start of a revolution of profound change.
1980’s and IVF
The next break through at re-engineering nature’s processes occurred in 1978 with In Vitro Fertilization. This process allows infertility to be overcome. Eggs (Ovum) are taken from the mother and mixed with sperm in a laboratory setting. When successful fertilization takes place, the zygote is placed back into the mother’s uterus to grow until delivery.
Couples now felt they, not nature, were in control.
2000 and Gene Therapy
Things really get interesting here. Gene therapy goes into a cell and fixes problems with faulty genes.
If you are an adult and you have a mutated gene (and you do, everyone does) therapy can fix or replace the gene. For example, a gene therapy called NLX-P101 (close to FDA approval) is injected into brain cells and has shown dramatic results in helping Parkinson’s patients reduce tremors and shaking. Think Michael J. Fox.
When NLX-P101 receives FDA approval it will be the first gene therapy to do so in the western world. (France has produced another gene treatment that may be approved by the EU before NLX-P101.)
This process was slowed because a patient died from a gene therapy treatment in 1999. Since then, procedures have been improved and gene therapy patent requests and studies have significantly multiplied. Theoretically, there isn’t a disease that exists which can’t be cured or improved using gene therapy. The reason is that at the root of all disease is a faulty or mutated gene.
Disease could be a thing of the past. We do this by doing what nature can’t. We change the human blue print.
2020 and Gene Engineering
Gene engineering is a completely different game entirely. Life changes at this point. The age of evolution ceases as the age of self improvement supersedes everything else.
The essence of gene engineering is putting in an order for what YOU want to be. Let’s see: I want to live 200 years, have an IQ of 200, and have particularly great mathematic and creative skills. Done. You select the right genes for you, most likely over the Internet. Order the genes in tablet form and start noticing the results.
Do we have any examples?
Human growth hormones are a form of genetic engineering. Baseball fans were enthralled to watch players break home run records as their muscles bulged out of their shirts and heads grew out of their hats. Remember Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire? Those were the summers to remember.
Right now, genetic engineering is a subject of intense controversy and debate. It should be, because the result is the creation of a new kind of manufactured human.
This goes far beyond human evolution. This is self improvement taken to a level beyond what a normal human being is. This is the conscious creation of a new species: Homo Superious Individulous. Or super human individual.
B. Living With The Stars
With that we will live with the stars and travel throughout the universe. On our way to that, we will save cities from flooding and solve global warming.