• Question: What do you think the future of bio-engineering looks like?

    Asked by an alien to Stewart, Miriam, Marton, Laura, Kathryn, David on 9 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Stewart Martin-Haugh

      Stewart Martin-Haugh answered on 9 Nov 2018:


      I think it will be a while before people accept serious body modification.

      Look at something like laser eye surgery: it’s been around for over 25 years but most people are happy just to stick with glasses or contact lenses, even if they could afford the procedure. The side effects are rare but alarming, judging by the Wikipedia entry. I’ve never seriously considered it.

      Some wild speculation: once it’s possible to reliably regrow any body part then I imagine people will be happier to risk it. At that point I would be quite up for some new eyes. I don’t know how far away that is, of course!

      The next step beyond regrowing the limbs and body parts you have would be to have others: maybe you would like to have wings? What’s interesting for me at that point is how fluid your body image becomes, if you can just change it whenever you want. I think that’s the real change that would come in. Film and TV tends to be interested in people being stronger and faster (usually to kill others more effectively) but I never really understand, given that tanks and helicopters already exist.

    • Photo: Marton Olbei

      Marton Olbei answered on 10 Nov 2018:


      We are already doing things that would be considered science fiction a couple of decades ago. We can create glowing animals, bacteria that eat plastic or gather gold, we can program stem cells to grow into what we want them into, we can grow bodyparts on other animals.

      I think the future is going to be exciting! We might be able to bring back extinct animals, cure diseases that are untreatable today, and we push human ability so much further. This is the future I hope for, but it’s easy to imagine a more dystopic version as well.

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