(Brave New World Dept) [NeoLife] Juan Enriquez explores the possibility and inevitable risks of human speciation

…soon we’ll need to cope with true diversity within our species. We are not just talking variants of ourselves that Homo sapiens could mate with.

The era of space travel, and potentially space colonization, may just force the issue of true speciation. Launch a human body into space and it dramatically decays. Almost all long-term astronauts come back severely damaged by their jaunts, in their vision, hearts, bones, brains. So if we are to leave this place, we are going to have to seriously reengineer the human body, very deliberately, to induce the kind of evolutionary adaptations required for surviving higher radiation, different gravity, more extreme environments. Those engineered humans would be diverse, and the differences between them and humans of today would increase rapidly as successive generations of them got further and further from Earth and adapted to truly different ecosystems.

Even if we do not begin to colonize space in the near future, the human genome will diversify by other means. As more and more gene therapies come online to deal with horrid diseases, the tools necessary for such procedures will become more standardized and widespread. People will use these tools to engineer their own genes and organs, and they won’t do it the same way everywhere, especially if different countries adopt different regulations, restrictions, and incentives.

Read it all.


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