Why to be God: A Wish List

Richard Feynman said: “What I cannot create, I do not understand”. Apparently, the sentence was left written on his blackboard at the time of his death in February 1988.

In Regenesis, George Church adds that, by the way, “What we can create, we don’t necessarily understand,” which in essence is the myth of creation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

That doesn’t mean he is particularly shy when it comes to betting on what we humans will be able to do when we are able to master “the genetic code.”

My gut feeling (by no means proven) is that, despite limitations of space and time, we humans can suddenly start to evolve thounsands of times faster than during the impressive Cambrian era, and that we can direct this diversity toward our material needs instead of letting it occur randomly.

George Church, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves

He maintains a (sort of) wish list of single gene variants (often rare in populations) with potential large impacts, which seems a preliminary specification or blueprint for a superhuman being with extra strong bones, large, lean muscles, low atherosclerosis, pain insensitive, resistant to infectious diseases like malaria or tuberculosis, or degenerative ones like Alzheimer or coronary disease; and able to hold breath longer to deep dive, or climb to higher altitudes. (See the whole list here.)

It is clear we will need a new “infrastructure” if we want to colonize space and become a multi planetary species.


Featured Image, Gattaca

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