I have talked about the future of healthcare on a few different posts, and I have gone back and forth with on a few different ideas and possible scenarios that could play out.
Will we, humans, be able to engineer our own flesh and blood organs, or will we scrap that idea all together for whatever reasons and make mechanical organs and limbs if need be. Well it seems we have taken a step in the direction of the former. And as soon as I say that I found this article that looks like we may be making advancements in the other direction.
As I mentioned in my opening sentence I have gone back and forth with the idea of what our biological advancements hold for the future. To me I could see it going one of two ways, either we crack the code of our DNA and are able to build whatever body part is needed in a lab, or we can simply make it out of metal and a number of other space age materials and somehow tie it directly into our nervous system. While either or both of these seem fine and dandy, what I had not thought about was if they were both able to come to fruition.
First, I think it is important to say that I do not think that either of these technologies are going to be figured out and readily available in the next 15 to 20 years. However, I think based on the articles we are certainly making strides in the right direction.
What I think is interesting is if both of these technologies are able to be implemented in the far future, meaning that we can both grow whatever body part we need and make it from whatever material available. So in a sense we will have genetically modified humans and cyborgs walking around at the same time. I use the term cyborgs because I do not know what else to call them. If this does happen could this be something that will separate our species. There are many futurist that believe in the Filter Theory, which states that there is something that prevents all intelligent civilizations from expanding and becoming super intelligent. Could something like this be one of those things that contribute to this theory. Could there be a war that breaks out because of the two different ideologies? Or could this be a point where the human species branches into two different species, or just evolves into whatever is the next step.
This may seem strange and laughable at first, but if you look at human history there have been wars fought over much less I assure you. I guess when I use the word war it could be more like a race war or something like the terrorist are now waging, but even then that could lead to an all-out war. Again this may sound silly but I could see where a fanatical person who believes in only having body parts grown living cells be put back into their body, and sees the use of machines and mechanical body parts as blasphemous. Much like the many different religions and ideologies we have today, which unless you have been living under a rock, can cause quite a bit of trouble.
I do not think there has or will be anything like this if it comes to pass. People always fear what they do not understand, and I am sure that people walking around with all sorts of mechanical limbs and various other parts I would imagine could be very strange. Looking at this from the opposite side, you may think people do not think twice about those that have artificial limbs now, so why would this change in the future? Well, I would think the technology would be infinitely better to the point where it could surpass what you were born with. So then comes the very odd question, would you trade in your perfectly good leg for an artificial one knowing you will never have knee aches, torn meniscus, arthritis, or the dreaded torn ACL. If that is the case would you replace all your limbs and eventually anything that could potentially wear out, basically becoming a sort of mechanical human.
While I started out saying that both of these could technologies could come about, another scenario would be the best of both worlds. Meaning fixing worn out joints and bones with mechanical devices and replacing worn out organs with brand new ones grown in labs. To me this would bridge the gap of possibly making the best possible human body, without a complete overhaul. This would obviously be ideal, but still farfetched.
Following this logic I wonder if there will be a point where humans could become more machine than man. I do not see a problem with this, but I am sure there are some out there that would have a problem with it, which again I think could cause some societal problems. This is a very farfetched scenario but of all the future scenarios that writer and futurists discuss I think one thing that often gets left in the dark is the social structure of society, or how new technology will be accepted and or adapted too. This is one of the more interesting aspects of the future of human civilization.