Bioenhancements: The Future of Medicine?
10:46:00 PM

Bioenhancements: The Future of Medicine?

Every species goes through the process of evolution over hundreds of thousands of years. We, ourselves, have evolved over millions of years to become what we are today; the only intelligent civilisation on earth. 
But with that intelligence comes power. The power to speed up evolution. To enhance ourselves in ways that nature just can’t do. But as they say, with great power, comes great responsibility. So keeping that in mind, lets dive deeper.

What Are Bio-Enhancements?

Bio-enhancements are a result of the advancement in bio-technology that let us overcome our limitations either temporarily or permanently. These can include any device or material that can be used in place of, or in conjunction with any parts/organs of the human body.

Use Case Scenarios

Broadly speaking there are two use case scenarios:
1. Bio-tech can be vastly useful in the medical field to treat illness and disability.
2. It can also be used to enhance the physical or mental capabilities of humans essentially giving us superpowers.


1. Artificial Organs

(Artificial Heart created by SynCardia)

A lot of the most important organs in our bodies have already been created artificially in the lab and the rest of them are being worked upon. Artificial heart, kidney, lung, pancreas, liver and intestines will one day be readily available to patients. We will no longer have to wait for real organs which can take anywhere from a few weeks to months even.
This is a big deal. A lot of deaths occur due to organ failure each year. All those people will now be able to just discard their ‘failed organ’ and replace it with an artificial one. And when the artificial one wears out, it will be replaced by a newer one! 
This is like converting the human body into a motor bike where you just replace the damaged parts with new ones in a workshop called hospital! 

2. Lifelike, Thought-Controlled Prosthetics

Prosthetic Technology has come really far in the past decade. Scientists have developed prosthetics that are capable of precise movements that look just like real body parts. 
Moreover, they are also developing the technology that allows a user to control his prosthetics with his mind so that it really feels like his own body part. 
The technology has come so far that today there exists a bionic arm that can “feel” objects. To test this, an amputee user was blindfolded and he was still able to tell what objects his bionic arm was touching.

3. Gene Therapy

Gene therapy replaces the bad genes in our bodies with good genes. RNA interference as well as CRISP-Cas9 can selectively knock out gene expression. Together, they give us an unprecedented ability to manipulate our own genetic code. 

4. Brain-Computer Interfaces

This may seem like something out of a sci-fi novel, but trust me, this is being heavily researched upon. Basically this technology gives us computer like abilities. 
To achieve this, a tiny electrode is implanted into a person’s grey matter of the brain or on the surface of the brain. 
This could allow humans to control any electronic devices with just a thought. More advanced technology would allow for telepathic abilities. Just imagine transmitting signals from your brain to someone else’s and letting them know how you feel and what you are thinking without ever saying a word!

5. Nano-medicine

Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. This is a huge field and the possibilities are endless. Devices as small as cells may someday navigate through the human body to serve as artificial immune systems.
Researchers are also developing customised nanoparticles that can deliver drugs directly to diseased cells in your body. Blood clots or blockages in the blood vessels could be easily cleared out by microscopic robots, which could prevent a lot of deaths. 
Some nano-materials have also shown to be able to help in blood purification in lab results, by removing toxins, pathogens and other harmful substances. 
Nanotech could also be used to repair damaged tissues of the body by providing instant relief especially to athletes and sports personalities.

Ethical Issues

Technology will eventually advance enough to give us all the applications mentioned above and even more, that we are not yet capable of even imagining. But the issue that presents itself at every corner is that of ethics.
Just because we have the ability to do something, should we do it? Should we play god and alter the whole human race making ourselves immortal beings roaming the earth for eternity? Who decides what is ethical in the first place. 
And if the technology is available in the free market won’t it be injustice to the people who won’t be able to afford this? That would create a multi species within the human species. On one side would be the normal humans who cannot afford to ‘upgrade’ themselves and on the other hand there will be these ‘upgraded’ beings who are not even fully humans. This will be inhumanly unjust. 
And who is to say that upgraded humans with special abilities won’t wreak havoc on earth trying to conquer it for themselves like many mad men have tried in the past. 

Identity Crisis

When bio-enhancements become a common thing and people are replacing their organs for artificial ones and using advanced prosthetics, and getting ‘upgraded’, there will arise a situation of identity crisis. 
At what point do you stop being you and become someone else, something else. How many organs or parts will it take to not be you anymore. And if you do consider yourself as a new individual, will that still be human? Or a robot? Or something in between? 
These are tough questions and the answers to them will be tougher still.

Final Thoughts

Bio-enhancements are inevitable. They are coming. It’s the natural course of technology which moves from field to field, advancing everything in its path. We humans have always looked for ways to absolve our frailty as biological beings and this will finally get us rid of that weakness. 
But it will be upon us as a race to decide which path to take. One could lead to the destruction of the human identity itself and the other could advance us enough to still be called humans. 
Moreover, these technologies need to be wisely regulated so that no trouble makers get to make any troubles! 
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” - Albert Einstein


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