Human NATURE and the many ways to tinker with it

artificial wombEver since we learned how to hold tools in our hands, we’ve been tinkering with ourselves. And the more we learn, the more we want to tinker. Some would use advances in medicine for very… awkward purposes, while others would misuse them to sadistically harm others in the name of scientific discovery, but it’s doubtless that scientific and technological advancement will be used to challenge nature.

Birth

I’ve given birth to my daughter six months ago, naturally, with the aid of epidural anesthesia (because I had been in induced labor for over 72 hours already, without much sleep). I have, and would have done everything to avoid a C-section, not so much because I didn’t trust the doctors or didn’t want a scar, but because I saw no need for it as long both me and my baby were healthy. But more and more women opt for C-sections voluntarily, planning them in advance, to avoid the pain of labor and childbirth, or to avoid presumed injuries and damage to their ladyparts.

I believe it’s each woman’s choice, and that no woman should judge another for it. As long as there are viable medical means to ease childbirth and limit the risks, women should be free to choose them, whatever they are.

In the future, we might develop yet more means to ease childbirth and make it entirely risk-free for both mother and child. Just imagine…

  • neural interfaces that allow for the mother to be calm and not feel any pain, while still feeling childbirth entirely (a more advanced form of epidural anesthesia that does not include the administration of chemicals)
  • transplanting children to artificial wombs early on, where they are perfectly protected and nourished, constantly monitored and delivered without any of the toils of natural childbirth
  • maybe even beaming children out of their mother’s wombs when they’re ready to be birthed, together with the placenta and umbilical cord
  • conceiving children in artificial wombs from the get go
  • and while we’re at it, allowing men to carry children for their partners — because why should we deny them the bliss? 😉

Sex and fertility

Whatever we invent, we find a way to fuck with it. 😉

Technological advancement will undoubtedly be used to enhance and modify the way we have sex. And of course it will — sex is a crucial part of human existence. There’s so much about it that we love, and so much we’d like to improve on.

Functionally, we might tinker with fertility, maximize our chances to conceive exactly the child we want, when we want it. Maybe achieve fertility up to a very advanced age; maybe the ability to carry multiples risk-free; maybe the ability to combine genes from more than two parents into the same child.

And what about the rumpy-pumpy? The horizontal tango? The slinky kinky? Transhumanism will definitely have a kinky side, me thinks. But the many ways in which we could use technology to aid us in this respect are far too NSFW to be included in a sci-fi blog post. Just think about well equipped androids, life-like virtual realities and orgasms at the touch of a button. You’re welcome.

Disease

A far more noble cause is curing cancer, AIDS, diabetes, the common goddamn fucking cold. And also, fantastic ways to heal injuries:

  • smart circuitry embedded in our bodies that can detect and predict disease (and call 911 when necessary)
  • organic band-aids that melt into your skin, becoming your skin
  • portable micro-surgery gadgets, with in-built anesthetics dispensers (or neural interfaces)
  • spray-on skin cells
  • nanites at the tip of a syringe — ready to invade the damaged area and reconstruct it within minutes, using your own tissue for basic building blocks, from less important areas of your body, like your fat deposits (Where do I sign?)

Aging

If only Hollywood beaus and beauties could speed up time — to get the stuff that lets them stop time…

Our obsession with aging and death, with our own mortality and transience, will always animate us to seek means to prevent them. If not for the love of youthful beauty, then for the love of life and each other.

Futuristic means to stop and even reverse the aging process could be…

  • the reprogramming of cellular death, pushing it into the future thus achieving very long life-spans
  • genetic refactoring — tinkering with the way cells are genetically programmed to grow, perform and die, maybe even preventing them from dying by coding them to enter a loop of regeneration once the organ they belong to reaches a certain maturity — thus achieving some sort of immortality (but you could still get run over by a truck, you know)
  • rejuventation treatments that could include the systematic injection of stem cells into vital organs and nanotechnology to repair damaged or brittle bones and nerve cells

Death

We might achieve immortality several ways:

  • healing ourselves indefinitely, down to a cellular level
  • transferring our minds into younger clones of ourselves
  • transferring our minds into computers, androids or AIs
  • transferring or copying our minds into our children (and thus making children for exactly this purpose) — I admit, it’s the most morbid one on this list (IMO), but I just can’t shake the image the ending of Being John Malkovich has etched into my brain.

Wow. So many ways to outsmart nature, if you don’t depend on funding and morals. And I barely just got started. Being a writer has such awesome perks.

*grins maniacally*

*starts plotting*

* * *

          This post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, April 2014.          

In 2012, my N post was — Negativity And The Writing World

15 Replies to “Human NATURE and the many ways to tinker with it”

  1. I would like to think that we (as the human race) would remember that nature spent a long time engineering us for good reason. Former fallows function and environment drives change. I think you have really pointed out some great points of advancement and I am always interested to read how various authors explore those very ideas. The reality is we are already at the edge of what you speak of and the social conversations so far indicates that we may not be ready.

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    1. That’s true, John. I also doubt we’re ready, globally, to accept that kind of changes into our lives. But smaller fractions are more than ready, and it usually takes pioneers to inspire the masses.

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  2. I would have done everything to avoid C-section, too, nearly ten years ago when I gave birth to my son. Nothing against it, but as long as I don’t need major surgery, I’d rather not have one.
    Very interesting post. Ways to tinker with human nature it — be it birth, aging, death — that’s one thing I really like about science fiction, thought it’d be frightening to know we invent ways to keep people alive for … ever. But I fear not, because as you say: Whatever we invent, we find a way to fuck with it. 😉

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    1. Some people really don’t deserve to live forever. Unfortunately, it’s usually them who have the money and power to deny the worthy ones their immortality, while they use it to prolong their reign indefinitely.
      Hm. That’d make a good dystopian story. 😉

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  3. You know that they’ve identified the gene that’s responsible for aging, right? They think they might figure out a way to just turn it off within the next generation or so. Our kids may never age and die.

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    1. This is me giving your post a “like.” 🙂 As Ray Kurzweil says, “Live long enough to live forever.” There’s a chance that ANYONE who is currently under the age of 50 may live long enough to see a time when we can stop aging. Even just being able to repair the body so everyone can live full and healthy lives of a “mere” 120 years would be good, though. As well as being a good transition to being truly unaging. Too many people now think that living more than a century would be bad for us because “we’d get bored doing the same thing for so long.” Well, maybe it’s time for us to stop thinking like a species that’s OLD at 40 years, yeah?

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      1. I wouldn’t get bored if I lived so long, because I wouldn’t be doing the same shit for 100 years. Who does that? Imagination, people! 😀

        And yes, I hate it that we consider ourselves old at 40, and in some cases, even 27-30 is old (models, actresses?). It’s absurd, degrading, and a complete undervaluation of our worth and potential.

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      2. Man, I wasn’t even getting going until I was nearly 40, and I have enough notes on stuff to keep me writing for at least the next 40 years. And there’s tons of stuff I want to do and see that could take at least another 40 years. I don’t have boredom on the menu.

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  4. Wouldn’t mind knowing your ideas for sex and technology. Not because I’m a pervert (well I am, but…) I would find it most interesting what your thoughts are.

    I love your posts, they give me such ideas for future stories.

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    1. I’d sign up too. I hated being pregnant, I was sick all the time and couldn’t sleep well. My feet were swollen, my hands were swollen, my back ached and I had to pee all the damn time. Ugh.

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  5. Hmm, interesting times ahead in the future. I like the idea of men giving birth. That one made me chuckle.
    It’s funny – my sister and I were talking about aging and how we used to think that everyone our age was ancient when we were kids. Yet we both feel young now. This aging thing is strange 🙂

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