Availability of Bioengineering
Many people say that truth can be stranger than fiction. This is especially true in the lines of biological engineering, as the bounds of human limitations are pushed to major extents. It would be possible to control evolution, as people could use nanotechnology to postpone death, and alter human bodies as people see fit. Nanotechnology is the science of using micro sized robots which are about the size of a single nanometer, which is about one 100,000th the size of the width of a human hair or around the size of fifteen atoms. These “robots” can change an elemental compound on an atomic scale. This can allow the changing DNA. This is naturally a controversial topic, as most people are fearful of idea that you can change your body, and in essence make immortality not as outlandish of an idea that was originally thought of in science fiction movies. Biological engineering can be dangerous; however, the benefits outweigh the consequences, and I believe this technology should be made available under careful supervision, globally.
A perfect example of the application of biological engineering would be the human brain. The brain controls all of the activities that our body does, such as it keeps our heart beating, and allows us to have conscious thoughts. Without our brain and brain cells, nothing in our body would work. Brain cells have one particular difficulty and are not like other cells in the human body; they do not reproduce. When a brain cell dies, it is gone forever. If scientists know exactly why the brain cells do not reproduce, in particular, why in brain’s sequence of DNA in the nucleus does not have an option to reproduce. Another option would be to find out what elements are vital for a cell to go through mitosis cell division and cell reproduction, and then artificially add those elements in correct proportions into the cell. If we have the technology planned out to fix problems like these, why would scientists not be able to fix these kinds of problems? Using nanotechnology, humans can fix this problem from the inside, altering DNA in the brain cells, and adding the extra elements found in other cells in the body so that the brain cells can artificially reproduce. This can give humans more brain cells, and replace old ones which can help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, or simply prolonging the longevity of the brain, avoiding the natural cycle of brain failure at old age due to death of brain cells over time.
Everything in life breaks down to simple elements and atoms at a molecular level. Thus making it possible to clone or make prosthetic organs accurate to original specimens exactly by the atom. If this is possible, then why can we not alter our own DNA to be more resilient to disease, or modify our brains to be able to hold a higher mental capacity? How about changing your immune system to allow your body to be more tolerant to any kind of serious illness? Many people would see these actions as being immoral, and can cause conflict. Such as in times of war, nations could create “Super Soldiers” which would be a blatant abuse of this technology. Others would also say that prolonging your own life technologically would be defying religion or doing the works of God, and therefore should not be done in any circumstance. I disagree, this kind of knowledge being used to strengthen people’s immune systems, or giving your body the ability to fight off otherwise incurable diseases would be an amazing feat.
Biotechnology has more drawbacks than just ethics however; people can make weapons. If people had the technology to alter human DNA, or alter other forms of life such as dangerous bacteria, not everybody would use it to save lives. Biochemical terrorism could become a new threat, as some people could genetically alter bacteria to survive any kind of penicillin used to combat them. To further the danger, the bacteria can be modified to have more hazardous traits. People attempting to use this technology to avoid death completely can also have its problems. If people never die, but keep reproducing, there can be significant problems economically, as having an infinite demand, but only limited resources for supply can cause hyper-inflation. This would come to be because increased demand increases price of goods, and having a shortage in supply also drives up price, to keep up with the amount of people, and economic growth more currency would have to be printed which naturally causes inflation. Add all of these factors together, and you will have a perfect recipe for disaster. This would be plenty of reason to worry about the effects of biotechnology; this is why I believe in strict rules set in place for the availability of technology such as this. In order to prevent the abuse, or multiple negative effects of power new technology strict laws will have to be set in place with the availability of technology. With great power, comes an obvious great responsibility. With responsibilities such as these, it is only natural to have restrictive laws as to how biological engineering should be used.
If technology like this was investigated and made public, I would not worry about these factors much though. I believe that biotechnology would have very strict rules and laws limiting the amount of danger that can be affiliated with this technology, and with good reason; with great power comes great responsibility. Rules set in place should determine how a person can treat themselves with this technology, such as for medical reasons only, or to be used in a way that would not offer complete immortality. Such as limiting the amount of “Lifespan” that can be added, but those rules would not be for myself to decide; they would be standardized by the government, or by the United Nations on a global level. I do however strongly advocate biological engineering to be used in helping humans fight diseases currently incurable. It is common knowledge that AIDS currently has no cure, and has taken the lives of many; however since the disease alters DNA, limiting the amount of white blood cells that your body makes, then we can reverse that effect with biological technology, offering your body a way to prosthetically create all the deficient elements that should have been in your body if not for the disease. These treatments can effectively bringing about a cure for AIDS, along with many other diseases with no known cures.
Discovering new cures for diseases can have obvious benefits in third world regions such as Africa, where people are more prone to infections. In that area, new diseases, called Orphan Diseases have made numerous appearances, and the people who live in those areas often times cannot afford to pay for new treatments. This is another situation where Biotechnology can help globally. With technology already in place to examine DNA of humans or bacteria, and readily change it to correspond with the ideas of whom over is “programming” the DNA with nanotechnology. This can allow scientists and doctors to find affordable new treatments for new and existing diseases. Utilizing biotechnology in situations such as this can save numerous lives and helping people who need help the most around the globe.
When people normally analyze the use of nanotechnology in biological engineering, they often times neglect the positive aspects in fear that the possibility of changing DNA of humans or microorganisms can be used as a weapon. I disagree however, as changing DNA can be used to help humans adapt to the ever changing world while avoiding the natural process of Darwinism. These discoveries can also help with the treatment and possibly cures for new and preexisting diseases. To limit the amount of drawbacks and worries for potential abuse of biotechnology, I believe that strict limitations should be put in place with the availability of this technology. That way, everyone would be happy, as we can take advantage of all of the benefits without worrying of the consequences. If scientists can responsibly use biological engineering, then the “Perfect World” that humanity has been constantly striving for will be finally achieved.
Endy, Drew. "On Biotechnology Without Borders." Seedmagazine.com. Global Reset, 03 2011. Web. 8 Nov 2012. <http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_biotechnology_without_borders/>.
Potter, Steve. "What Can AI Get from Neuroscience?." http://neuro.gatech.edu. http://neuro.gatech.edu, n.d. Web. 26 Nov 2012. <https://neurolab.gatech.edu/wp/wp-content/uploads/potter/publications/Potter-NeuroscienceForAIchapter.pdf >.
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