Are we ready for Human version 2.0?

The explosion of genetic knowledge and nature of human being will make human version 2.0 inevitable in near future. For hundreds of thousands of years humans have remained a single species with the ability of intrabreeding even though differences exist between appearances and a wide geographic distribution of individuals.

Efforts of royal families and aristocrats in several countries who have tried to be selective in partner selection and create a better offspring virtually failed. Not mentioning birth defects from family marriages advantages of their offspring mostly had been due to owned social and monetary network of families rather than individual differences.

Eugenics efforts also have been unsuccessful and unlawful on many occasions.

Now for the first time in human history there is a potential for change.

We have to openly discuss all implications of this new situation in order to manage it.

Genetic manipulation of human genome has been a taboo idea both in scientific community and public. Movies of Frankenstein aired on TV's decades before actual manipulations became possible. Frankenstein showed a mentally disabled individual with increased physical abilities. Marvel movies displayed battle between physically gifted characters some with good and some with bad intentions.

Forget about flying superman or rope spraying spider man for a while. Creating a human being with muscle strength of a gorilla is not too far in sight. Such a being have been a metabolically disadvantaged individual due to increased power requirements of muscle and brain. Nowadays nutrition is not a major problem, it is affordable. So we are facing a possible scenario no far away. So who will win and who will lose with such an addition to society? Apart from questions regarding the labour force and possible reintroduction of slavery and human ownerships, we will have questions regarding reproduction. Well he/she be able to mate a normal human and what would be the consequences?

If everything goes fine we would have many versions of new humans. I can not think of all possible exotic individuals that can be possible to produce. Thinking of everything going smoothly we will have new individuals with different properties and sometimes with more than one property per individual. Here are general areas that a human might be improved.

We can have individuals with better sensory abilities. Individuals who have a visual ability to see small items. Individuals who have a visual acuity to see far items. Individuals who have a visual ability to see colors outside our visible range like infrared and ultraviolet. Individuals who have a visual ability to discriminate small colour variations. Individuals who have a visual ability to see circular and polarized light. Individuals with a better low light vision.

We can have individuals with better hearing some with echolocation ability, some able to hear lower amplitude sounds, browder sound spectrum.

Better touch, better smell, better taste etc. Nature is full of better and better examples.

Apart from sensor people we can have individuals who outperform normal individuals on physical tasks. Runners, jumpers, bumpers. Etc.

Yet another category we might have individuals with better mental abilities. Great mentals as a whole or better at individual tasks math, memorising, reasoning etc.

Categories not finished yet. people can be modified to be more resistant. Resistant to what? Whatever you want. Resistant to shock, cold, heat, starvation, cuts. Resistant to well known bacteria and viruses.

This might not be what everyone wants but GM individuals might be generated just in order to be charming. All people love beautiful babies, nice girlfriends and boyfriends. Fake lips & breasts, fake blondes may be history one day. Who might want a boy with metallic blue hair or blue coloured skin? Red eyes? Oh no, but option on the table.

I will now go more in science fiction. More modifications, more radical changes. People doing photosynthesis, generating some of their own energy! Digesting plastic, petrol, cellulose. Flying. Amphibian respiratory system, breath under water or ability to hold breath a long time. Energy acquisition, production and expenditure, life length all will be reprogrammed fully and from scratch.

Current structure of our society relies on payments. Those who do pay always want it back. So what will happen if any of described individuals come into existence with monetary supply coming from an individual, company or country. Who owns what? There are already battles for small genetic sequences designed by tech firms in USA and Europe. Will those GM individuals slaved for a single generation or multiple generations?  Or will their production expenses be prepaid with no debt nor any slavery. Who owns what?

Add remote control, cyborgs and clones if above complexity seems not enough.

I just said if everything goes fine at the start but what if does not. What about manufacturing errors & design errors. Unexpected results might produce individuals like Frankenstein. We might diagnose manufacturing errors before birth. Some might be diagnosable at early life. Some may diagnosed late in life. As we know from human criminal activity humans can have an apparent character and a hidden character. So will be our GM humanoids. Those errors who're incompatible with life would be the easiest to manage while the hidden and subtle ones would be the hardest. What to do with errors? Should they be killed or confined, immobilized, indefinitely slept, treated as members of community or excommunicated?

What happens if problems arise from interbreeding with humans or different types of humanoids?

Considering the numbers and potential advantages the offspring of new humanoids might soon dominate earth. We spoke of the scenario which humanoids were slaves but the opposite could really be true in less than 5 generations. It just depends on conditions & power balance. We vs. them. Weak or powerful.

Nevit Dilmen
Caddebostan, Istanbul, October 2013