Thursday, 20 May 2004

Genetic Modifications

by Anders Sandberg
It is an interesting fact that most proposals of improving the human body in transhumanistic discussions are mainly based upon bionic and chemical enhancements, while overlooking the potential of genetic engineering. In part this may be due to the fact that most methods of changing the genome is most efficient only on very small groups of cells or in the embryo. This means that these methods will mainly work on our children, not on ourselves, something which has made many transhumanists turn to other methods. However, genetic engineering has obviously great potential to transform living beings, it is already an viable technology (unlike bionics) and gene therapy is advancing fast. Perhaps most important, and controversial, is the fact that this method will not only change a single individual, but also affect all of his/her/its offspring. This will give us the ability to once for all eliminate certain genes or add new ones.

In the following I will mainly deal with modifications which are possible according to what we know, and reasonable extrapolations of current technology.

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