By Charles Mueller
The story of human history has been about becoming healthier, smarter and stronger. We have always been searching for ways to overcome the limitations imposed on us by Mother Nature using science and technology. Through a conscious effort aimed at making us the best we can be, we have proven time and again that we can make what was once impossible, possible, always improving our way of life along the way.
So then why did a Pew Research Center survey find evidence to support the claim that the majority of American’s are afraid of the technologies on the horizon that will make us healthier, smarter and stronger? Why are we afraid of enhancing ourselves with bio- and neuro-technologies that can help us fight off disease and/or perform miracles like restoring vision to the blind?
The reality is we’ve been using S&T to improve our lives since we could. Today millions can walk because of prosthetics, they can breathe because of organ transplants and they can access the largest database of human knowledge in the blink of an eye thanks to the Internet and their Smart phones. We love technology, and modern advancements, while mysterious in how they work for most, are just the next phase in what we’ve always been doing.
We need these next generation human enhancement technologies. Their proper use today could drastically improve the quality of life for billions. Aside from that, the human species is a fragile, intelligent and creative species. These technologies, if developed and applied in the right ways, can help us overcome our fragility, increase our intelligence and expand our creativity. The future versions of us will have very different problems than the ones of today and ensuring they have the tools to survive their challenges, which might range to dealing with a natural ice age to colonizing another planet, is the greatest gift we could hope to give. These tools, properly developed, are that gift.
Using these technologies is the first step in developing the knowledge about how to properly develop, manage and control these awesome technologies. It is the first step in learning how to control and adapt our human systems to the environments of the future, be they here on Earth or out in the cosmos. We will never be able to remove all the risk associated with their use, and there are bound to be accidents, but as humans we take equivalent risks all the time, every day. It is good we are starting this conversation because it means there is public pressure to ensure we evolve these technologies with foresight and caution. However, we have to ensure the dialogue doesn’t halt the progress these tools promise. Abandoning a transparent, global pursuit of these technologies will only relegate their development to the shadows, an environment primed to foster our greatest fears.
We need to continue to embrace the technologies that will help us grow to be healthier, smarter and stronger, not be afraid of them. These tools can help us start evolving ourselves with some foresight instead of blindly hoping we get to where we need to go. We need these human new enhancement technologies so let’s figure out how to manage this reality instead of denying it. Our future literally depends on it.