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I watched a video yesterday that left me in awe and scared the suspenders off my back.

Mutants are coming soon and you may have the option to become one.

In a recent Ted Talk, Lisa Nip, a certified psychopath synthetic biologist, presented a number of theoretical questions that we as humans will face in the distant future. Questions like- what are we going to do when all of earth’s resources are depleted or where are we going to live when our sun explodes.  Obviously these are very pressing issues.

Lisa’s solution, not surprisingly, is for us to colonize far away potentially habitable planets. She then uses this as her platform to investigate the various issues we will run into, namely, how is our feeble human body going to withstand the harsh environments of these other planets?  Earth is the equivalent of spring break in Cancun, whereas other planets are likely spring break in the Sahara (considerably less redbull vodkas).

The answer to this adaptability question is by altering the human genome to match whatever we think will make us better-able to handle these conditions.  One example Lisa provides is to make humans immune to radiation by stealing a gene from a bacterium and splicing it into humans.  I’m not kidding.  I’m going to roughly paraphrase here but this is essentially the proposal:

Human Genome CRISPR project

The craziest part is that this technology isn’t hundred of years away, or even decades, we have the technology today to alter the human genome.  CRISPR is a “gene/DNA editing tool” that was recently discovered by scientists within strep bacteria.  Think of it like the “find replace” function within Microsoft word, but with DNA.  More on CRISPR here.

As scientists work to perfect this technology over the coming years the only consideration holding us back, is that of morality. The ability to alter our life-span, height, eye color, sex, and every other attribute of humans will come into question.

Unfortunately Lisa Nip doesn’t dive into the X-men like future that will inevitably transpire but her closing thoughts say it best:

 “We’re approaching a time during which we’ll have the capacity to decide our own genetic destiny.  Augmenting the human body with new abilities is no longer a question of how, but of when.”

What are your thoughts?  Good or bad?

Eric