Will future humans have a specially tailored DNA code?

The world is changing, but we are not. We still need animal flesh & plants to survive, we need drinking water, our skin cannot tolerate temperature changes very well, our intellect is limited, our body cannot handle many of the newfound carcinogens, many of our emotions are overpowering & make the political landscape very dangerous, we spend too much time trying to get laid, it takes 4 years to learn a career trade, etc. It seems like our DNA was designed for a species that stopped existing thousands of years ago. The environment is changing constantly, we are about to start traveling in space, and nothing is certain anymore.

will a new type of DNA become the standard for future homo sapiens, or a DNA code tailored for each generations trials & tribulations, say 200 years in the future? i would assume that computers of the future will be able to design DNA which codes for forms of life much smarter, resilient, competent & able to handle the current environment they are in than our DNA can. As an example, perhaps there is a DNA code that can create a species of human that doesn’t require food, but can be plugged into an outlet for energy (not totally unrealistic, as ATP energy comes from electrons). That would solve the food shortages we may face. Or a species that had emotions more as a warning system, rather than an overpowering control system like we do.

Would this happen, or would it be stopped because we are ‘playing god’? Personally i am all for playing god, if we don’t do it who will.

Hm. I think society would outright lynch any attempts at enforcing an altered emotional system. Also, the energy-from-an-outlet thing is an unrealistic solution. If our DNA techniques were that advanced, more likely we’d use them to create/alter abundant food sources. How about a cow that uses photosynthesis and grows from calf to bloated meatsack in three months? I think we’ll be able to eventually cure all diseases and genetic defects, but beyond that, I don’t see “enhancing” humans getting very far, because “better” is so relative.

The genie is out of the bottle now, mate-
transgenic food crops and industrial bacteria, then tailored soil organisms to utilise the empty half of the world’s land surface, people living in the sea and in space - intelligent animals with thier own societies, life extension into the thousands of years- improved human intelligence-
if we do not choose to do these things in the next few hundred years there will no doubt be a later civilisation which does.

The only thing that would deflect the self-designing genome becoming the next logical step in human development would be uploading humanity into an electronic medium…certainly saves on energy and living space.
Oh yes, and the ordinary unenhanced humans would be preserve like an endangered species…
— not exactly everyone’s vision of utopia, but I can’t see a way round it without everyone voluntarily going back to a medieval lifestyle…

This topic is the subject of Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family by Lee M. Silver:

The book speculates about the eventual differentation of the human species by genetic manipulation being available to an “elite” but not available to the masses. But it overlooks the political difficulty of such a differentiation: the masses will outnumber and outvote the elite, and thus will do their best toward restraining anyone from getting out too far ahead of the curve.

I am deeply skeptical about proposals to create “special purpose” humans genetically designed to fit a specific role or environment. Humans have spent most of their existence changing the world to fit humanity, not the other way around. Any genetic “tailoring” of humans would almost certainly be almost comically short-sighted.

For example, in Brave New World, they bred a class of imbeciles to perform boring repetative tasks that a more intelligent person would be unhappy having to do. This included elevator operators; have you ever actually been on an old manually operated elevator? Apparently Huxley never envisioned that elevators might be automated.

Genetic engineering has it’s place. Eliminate disease? Almost certainly; but what constitutes disease? Other than rarities that are infrequent in the gene pool precisely because they compromise health, what about genes that had survival value at one time. A propensity to gain and keep weight easily? That’s a good trait to have when your food supply is uncertain (and even wealthy westerners went hungry as recently as WW2). Sickle-cell trait confers some resistance to malaria, which globally still afflicts millions.

Then there’s the question of just how wise it would be to choose traits that a particular culture values. You want your sons to all be six feet tall? Maybe you’re condeming them to a life of bad backs and flattened arches. Your daughters should all be busty? As it is, many women have so many problems from over-large breasts that they get them surgically reduced. Would you want the body type that was considered ideal in your grandparent’s day? In the 1920s the ideal for women was an Olive Oyl stick-figure. Fashion changes too rapidly to allow for a 25 year lead time between generations.

Finally, there’s the question of can we change our traits at will, even with genetic engineering. A lot depends on just how our DNA works: do our genes work like a straightforward blueprint, so that changing nucleotide sequence A results in modification B? Or do our genes work like a Rube Goldberg machine, in that while the final result does depend on our genes, it does so in such a complex nonlinear fashion that it’s impossible to calculate how to get effect B from change A? My guess is that our genome has examples of both. Some things like eye color will be trivially easy to change, while others (possibly behavior) may be impossible to deliberately design. We might end up copying gene sequences with a known effect without being able to explain exactly why they work.

In summation, I am in favor of being extremely cautious and conservative about altering the human genome.

Too much time trying and not enough time succeeding, you mean.

I agree that the genie is out of the bottle, and genetically engineered humans will exist in the not too distant future. You can ban it in the US, and it’ll just sprout somewhere else. Scary and exciting at the same time…

Absolutely. I can see that many strategies will emerge, to find ways of using the universe to the best advantage

  • one strategy will be to change the world to accomodate people-techniques like terraforming and the construction of giant habitats will be of use here…
    another will be to change people to fit the environment- colonising the icy seas of Europa or the mists of Titan…
    another will be to use artificial intelligence to live in solar powered processing units in orbit around every star…
    another would be to attempt homeostasis on a single planet - the route of sustainabilty and economical use of resources.
    Some of these methods are a bit frightening, but it may be that they will all be used, to a greater or lesser extent, somewhere and somewhen in the future…#
    oh yes, and it won’t all be plain sailing of course- the different factions will definitely come into conflict-
    there are no doubt many interesting times ahead- if it is possible, someone will do it…

I think that any attempt to halt or slow down genetic customizing will prove impossible if the promised health benefits from genetic custminzing manage to materialize. I mean, you try being the one who tells someone with a genetic defect that their kids will have to risk it because we need to “go slow on genetic tampering.” It absolutely will not fly.

Also, the effects of lookism will create a huge demand for genetically tailored physical beauty. As soon as it becomes possible, look for almost every mother on Earth to be clamoring for it.

The only thing that could slow down genetic tampering is if some unanticipated horrors crop up as a result – thalidomide baby type stuff. I suspect that researchers will look real hard at these possibilities but the pressure for results might be so great that bad things might slips through the cracks in the DNA.

When the medical and physical beauty benefits creates a foothold for genetic tampering, the move to tailoring for specific advantages will be next.