Thursday, August 30, 2012

Homo Evolutis?

Recently I watch a TED talk by Juan Enriquez: "Will Our Kids be a Different Species." which touch on bind-bending ideas related to human evolution and biotechnology. It's remarkable to think how rapidly science is taking us to the future. Particularly with respect to stem cell research. How, for example, scientists have taken skin cells from a mouse and been able to recreate a duplicate mouse. And how other organs such as livers (as well as bladders and tracheas) are being reproduced from skin cells. So perhaps we can reproduce any body part or an entire person in the future. And what if we're then able to download peoples memories and implant those memories into another person. These are mind-bending scenarios which quickly bring up a whole slew of moral and ethical questions.

In the bigger picture, we have technology moving at lightening speed with minimal awareness by the general public of these types of experiments being conducted. It's also remarkable to think, as Enriquez points out that perhaps we are in the cusp of a new human species— one being adopted by our kids and lived by our grandkids. His description of the astonishing increase in autism rates just in the last ten years brings up issues and some anxiety about what may be causing this change.

I like how Enriquez presents the facts and lets his audience come so their own conclusions. He makes me curious and want to learn more. You might also enjoy another one of Enriquez's TED talk "The Next Species of Human," where he discusses the economy and it's relationship to our evolution.