Innovation & Technology

Superhumans: The Quest to Stay Forever Young

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The quest to live forever and make the human body surpass unimaginable boundaries have always been popular themes of science fiction, but to some researchers, the era of the superhuman is almost upon us. Biochip implants, genetic modification, and bioprinting are some of the means to achieve this end. Biochips are electronic circuits surrounded by a capsule of surgical glass. They are the size of a grain of rice and are implanted in the body and, as of now, they are only used to gather data regarding the body of the host. The future; however, holds broader possibilities. Bryan Johnson, founder, and CEO of the neuroscience company Kernel, has invested $100 million of his own money in developing biochips that can be implanted in a person's brain, so humans may improve their memory and mental faculties, whilst combating neurodegenerative diseases. This is not, however, the only way to augment our bodies. In a 2016 report, both the US National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine argued that bioengineers are close to developing a reliable method to alter the DNA of a person, so diseases are not carried over to future generations. Moreover, through the manipulation of DNA, it is possible to produce insulin, treat cancer and certain types of tumors. The last part of the superhuman Trinity is the development of organs for transplant. One of the techniques used for this purpose is bioprinting. It consists of using a machine to layer cells which, when arranged in the right order, can create living organs. At present, this technique is still in the developmental stage and researchers can only create small tissues, but the future of this technology holds out the possibility of creating larger organs, such as hearts, livers, and lungs.

 

Technology continues to become more powerful, but there still are difficulties to overcome. The two most important are safety and public acceptance. As of now, it is impossible to provide an exact measure of the impact these technologies will have on the body over the long term. Additionally, ethical debates have been ignited by individuals who are skeptical about the use of these technologies. Despite the turmoil, researchers are pushing towards their goal of making humans smarter, faster and stronger, and, one day, immortal.

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