Life 2.0 : life has become customizable

What physical or mental enhancements are possible through gene therapy ?

Altering our genes provides an enormous potential for personal enhancement, life extension and cosmetic modifications. But we are not entirely the products of our genes. The environment also plays a big part in modelling who we are. With this in mind, let's see how much we can expect from gene therapy to enhance our lives, or from genetic engineering to design future generations.

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Improve your health, looks and intelligence thanks to gene therapy

Advances in genetics now permit to edit one's genome relatively easily. Gene therapy is now used exclusively to fix diseases, but could soon be used by transhumanists for genetic enhancement, such as augmenting one's mental faculties or improving one's physical appearance. What exactly can we modify and what are the risks involved ?

The 21st century initiated a new era for human genetics, the era of gene therapy. Although gene therapy was first experimented in the 1990's, only single base pairs could be edited, and not always reliably. Many techniques have evolved over the years to modify snipets of one's genome more easily and with accrued accuracy. The most promising, known as CRISPR-Cas9, allows to alter larger stretches of DNA in one time. Using a single short strand of RNA in conjunction with a protein that find and cut a desired DNA sequence, an enzyme called Cas9, the CRISPR method makes it easy to replace, delete, or add any desired sequence of DNA.

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Mind uploading won't lead to immortality

Uploading the content of one's mind, including one's personality, memories and emotions, into a computer may one day be possible, but it won't transfer our biological consciousness and won't make us immortal.

Uploading one's mind into a computer, a concept popularized by the 2014 movie Transcendence starring Johnny Depp, is likely to become at least partially possible, but won't lead to immortality. Major objections have been raised regarding the feasibility of mind uploading. Even if we could surpass every technical obstacle and successfully copy the totality of one's mind, emotions, memories, personality and intellect into a machine, that would be just that: a copy, which itself can be copied again and again on various computers.

It is not possible to transfer our consciousness into a computer, even if (or when) computers achieve consciousness of their own. The best analogy to understand that is cloning. Identical twins are an example of human clones that already live among us. Identical twins share the same DNA, yet nobody would argue that they also share a single consciousness.

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Your life is going to change faster than ever before

Human society and individual lives are are about to undergo the a dramatic transformation due to exponentially accelerating technologies. Discover what will happen in the next 20 years.

In his landmark book The Singularity is Near, Ray Kurzweil explains how information-based technologies progress at an exponential rate. For example, in 1972, the microprocessor of a personal computer could only perform 100,000 instructions per second (0.1 MIPS). In 1978 it was one million instructions per second (1 MIPS). In 1993, the Intel Pentium reached a speed of 100 MIPS. By 2002, a processing speed of 10,000 MIPS had become common. In the 30 years from 1972 to 2002 the speed of PC's increased 100,000 times. This trend is accelerating over time in a hyperbolic fashion, known as exponential growth. It took 21 years, from 1972 to 1993, for computation speed to increased 1000 fold, but only 10 more years to increase again by the same factor. In other words speed progressed twice faster. This phenomenon has been observed for in practically all technologies, be it for RAM memory, data storage, DNA sequencing cost, number of cell phone subscribers, number of people connected to the Internet...

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The new technologies that will change human civilization as we know it

Most adults alive today grew up without the Internet or mobile phones, let alone smartphones and tablets with voice commands and apps for everything. These new technologies have altered our lifestyle in a way few of us could have imagined a few decades ago. But have we reached the end of the line ? What else could turn up that could make our lives so much more different ? Faster computers ? More gadgets ? It is in fact so much more than that. Technologies have embarked on an exponential growth curve and we are just getting started. In 10 years we will look back on our life today and wonder how we could have lived with such primitive technology. The gap will be bigger than between today and the 1980's. Get ready because you are in for a rough ride.

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