Discoveries and advancements in the biological sciences are happening at an astounding rate.  Whether it’s using stem cells to re-grow organs, or getting close to curing Alzheimer’s, every new day bring with it the promise of a brighter world.  And then there’s the techno-biological side of things.  The advancements that aren’t just about making our lives better through genetics or purely biological means, but, using technology, seem to be pushing humanity towards a world that is distinctly science-fictionesque.  From fully articulated mind-controlled prostheses, to operating computers with the mind, to implanting bionic eyes; perhaps visions of the future where humanity supplants natural evolution isn’t so far away.  Enter predator-vision!

“…in the future, cortical neuroprostheses like this could be developed to give animals or humans the ability to see any part of the electromagnetic spectrum or, for that matter, even magnetic fields.”

terminator-infraredIt is inevitable that someday our biology will be influenced more by technology than nature.  If with a bit of technology we could allow humans to see in the dark as clearly as during the day, should we do so?  Perhaps an entire future generation of babies will be born into a world with this option.  But does this raise as strong a moral question as it seems?  If a change doesn’t cause harm and would only benefit humanity, do we not have a moral imperative to make that change?  Eventually we may reach a point where we realize and accept that reshaping ourselves is just a form of natural evolution.  Our minds, or inquisitiveness, our lust for knowledge is natural, so is anything we discover through investigating the world around us.  So perhaps it isn’t wrong to deem the application of concepts and technologies we acquire ethically sound.    

Of course there is the darker side of progress to consider.  Advancements like this take us one step closer to Universal Soldiers.  It would be folly to dismiss the notion that every government and military force in the world wouldn’t consider implementing techniques like this to give their soldiers a distinct advantage.  If we get to the point where technology can bring out functional biological adaptations, will we see Navy Seals that can breathe under water?  Marines with retractable claws?  Pilots with lungs that allow them to breath in exceedingly thing atmosphere?  Soldiers with skin grafts that allow them to camouflage themselves like so many cephalopods?  I certainly think it is something that will be attempted.  I only hope we as a species have the common decently and good sense to change ourselves for the better, not for self-destructive proposes.

image source: [freewebs] [popsci]