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Thread: Cat Eyes and Other Radical Ideas to Re-Engineer Humans for the Future

  1. #1

    Cat Eyes and Other Radical Ideas to Re-Engineer Humans for the Future

    Da Fuq?

    If we donít do something about climate change, humanity is screwed. But do what? Carbon emissions keep creeping up, geoengineering is potentially dangerous, and we continue to stew in endless political debates. One bioethicist has a radical idea: Re-engineer humans for a better planet.

    A few years ago, NYU bioethicist and philosopher Matthew Liao co-authored a paper in Ethics, Policy and the Environment titled ďHuman Engineering and Climate Change.Ē It was downloaded from his website 20,000 times in just three days, which pretty much makes it a blockbuster among academic philosophy papers. He had hit on a nerve.

    Liao and his co-authors argued that human engineering should be seriously considered as a possible solution to climate change. What if we could create a patch that made us allergic to red meat? Or dole that pills that make us more empathetic? You can learn more about these specific ideas from io9ís coverage of the paper when it first came out.

    It all sounds pretty crazy here and now in 2015, but human engineering for the greater good of the public is not unheard of. For the sake of public health, we vaccinate our children and add fluoride to the water supply. Of course, these actions have their attendant controversies, too.

    Since itís Action Hero Week, and weíre talking about human enhancement here at Gizmodo and io9, I called up Liao to talk about human enhancement that betters both ourselves and our planet. We also caught up on some new developments in the world of human enhancement.

    The challenge with environmental policies is that itís so hard to get people to change what they doóeven when itís as simple as recycling or using less water. If we canít convince people to change what their behavior, how do you expect to convince people to change their bodies?

    We were trying to come up with solutions that were win-win solutions, things you would do even if it doesnít help the climate.

    Things like the meat patch. Well, there are a lot of people who would be interested in having a meat patch to cut down their consumption of red meat. I gave a talk once, and afterwards a pharmaceutical rep came up to me and said, ďHave you patented that idea? That would do well in Brooklyn.Ē [laughs] You can see that being desirable. You look at restaurants and they serve these dishes that taste like meat because people like the taste of meat, even vegetarians. If you had a meat patch, you could curb that desire at the start. These are the win-win solutions that could overcome the behavioral limitations.

    You seem to posit a world in which human engineering of the kind you talk about is this mainstream. Do you think thatís inevitable?

    I think so. Right now, it most frequently comes up in pharmaceuticals. You look at Ritalin and Adderall, and people are taking it. One in five readers of the journal Nature is taking some sort of cognitive enhancement, and weíre not talking about just coffee. Right now, the U.S. government is interested in things like modafinil, basically Provigil. It allows people to stay up for a really long time without a crash and allows you to still function normally. Theyíre interested in giving that drug to pilots so that they can fly long missions without being tired. In 2007, it was a $1 billion market, and they estimate that in 2017, itíll be between a $10 and $17 billion market. And over 90 percent of the prescription for modafinil is now off-label use. Thatís staggering.

    Youíre saying that human engineering already happens?

    I think in terms of drugs that will enhance us, itís already happening. Fluoridation in the water is also a form of enhancement, and we do it publicly across populations. And so why couldnít we do something like it across other areas? Thatís generally the idea behind the paper, to think about these things we hadnít thought of and to try to encourage people to think outside of the box.

    Since youíve published the paper in 2012, have you come up with any new human engineering ideas?

    One of the things weíve been exploring is this idea of cat eyes. Cat see just as well as we can during the day, but they can see about 7 times better than we can at night. If you fly at night, youíll see all these lights across the U.S. and across the globe. You can imagine that we all had better eyes, we can globally dim the lights and reduce energy consumption at night by almost seven-fold. And thatís huge.

    So youíve probably heard about those biohackers trying to give themselves night vision...

    Yeah, why wouldnít you want to have better eyesight? Or maybe we can use goggles or glasses. There are also mammals that have night vision, and scientists are looking the genetic basis for night vision.

    Thatís especially interesting to talk about now, with CRISPR and human genome editing in the news.

    CRISPR technology is coming. Itís not very good yet, but it allows very selective editing of genes. Initially it going to be used to treat certain diseases. If you have the Huntingtonís disease or the breast cancer gene, well, I think people will be interested in using CRISPR if it works.

    And then eventually other people are going to use it for enhancement purposes ó theyíre going to want to have stronger muscles, be able to think faster, etc etc. It seems almost inevitable. It seems like thatís where weíre heading, just like our phones get faster and faster every year. It might be necessary for the survival for the human species as well. Stephen Hawkings thought our genetic engineering was our best way to survive. Thatís taking a long view, I understand, but I think itís important look long-term

    This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
    http://gizmodo.com/cat-eyes-and-othe...ans-1704511039



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  3. #2
    What if we could create a patch that made us allergic to red meat? Or dole that pills that make us more empathetic?
    Or maybe we should lobotomize anyone who wants to use science for that purpose?
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    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  4. #3
    Of course, these actions have their attendant controversies unintended consequences, too.
    FIFT
    "When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns itówithout his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraudóto anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated; that an act of plunder is committed." - Bastiat : The Law

    "nothing evil grows in alcohol" ~ @presence

    "I mean can you imagine what it would be like if firemen acted like police officers? They would only go into a burning house only if there's a 100% chance they won't get any burns. I mean, you've got to fully protect thy self first." ~ juleswin

  5. #4
    pills that make us more empathetic?

    Free MDMA for all!

    'We endorse the idea of voluntarism; self-responsibility: Family, friends, and churches to solve problems, rather than saying that some monolithic government is going to make you take care of yourself and be a better person. It's a preposterous notion: It never worked, it never will. The government can't make you a better person; it can't make you follow good habits.' - Ron Paul 1988

    Awareness is the Root of Liberation Revolution is Action upon Revelation

    'Resistance and Disobedience in Economic Activity is the Most Moral Human Action Possible' - SEK3

    Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.

    ...the familiar ritual of institutional self-absolution...
    ...for protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment...


  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanimal View Post
    Da Fuq?
    Imagine if we forked?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation

    Humans, Elves, Dwarfs, Wizards, and Orcs


    'We endorse the idea of voluntarism; self-responsibility: Family, friends, and churches to solve problems, rather than saying that some monolithic government is going to make you take care of yourself and be a better person. It's a preposterous notion: It never worked, it never will. The government can't make you a better person; it can't make you follow good habits.' - Ron Paul 1988

    Awareness is the Root of Liberation Revolution is Action upon Revelation

    'Resistance and Disobedience in Economic Activity is the Most Moral Human Action Possible' - SEK3

    Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.

    ...the familiar ritual of institutional self-absolution...
    ...for protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment...




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