The Benefits and Risks of Genetic Engineering and Nanotechnology
There has been a lot of news lately concerning genetic engineering and nanotechnology. These news reports typically fall under two opposite categories, which are either that these technologies will solve a lot of the world's problems or they will be the sources of more problems. Here are some possible benefits and disadvantages with these technologies.
First, genetic engineering and nanotechnology are predicted to be great, because they will directly solve several of the world problems. For example, genetic engineering researchers are trying (if they have not already succeeded) in developing super-antibiotics, designer virus or hunters that only attack certain diseases such as cancer, new abundant food sources (imagine food growing year round in almost any climate), regenerate body parts, and even grass that only grows two inches long so that it never needs to be mowed (this is my personal favorite), just to name a few possible predictions. Furthermore, nanotechnology researchers are predicting making computers thousands of times faster, smaller, and more energy efficient, and microscopic machines that can even perform medical operations inside the human body. Imagine a mini-robot painlessly cleaning your arteries from the inside. I am sure the true outcomes of these technologies are something even the most imaginative person could not possibly imagine.
Naysayers are predicting that these technologies are going to destroy humanity and the planet, and they are asking these types of questions. What if super-plants cross pollinate with weeds, would we get super-weeds? What if nano-machines continuously replicate themselves and ultimately devour the human race? Or if we develop super intelligent species or machines that are smarter than human beings, would we be replaced? Religious fundamentalists are asking if we even have a right to modify life?
All of these questions are serious and realistic concerns, but can the human race survive as we are forever? No. Should the human race continuously try to improve the world for the benefit of humanity? Yes. The rewards greatly out weigh the risks, but the risks are greater than the human race has ever faced before. Only if humanity can practice extremely stringent methods of preventing these technologies from getting out of control, can humanity be guaranteed a future. Either way, these news reports rightfully predict that these new technologies are the future, unavoidable, somewhat unpredictable, and everyone should heavily invest in the companies researching these technologies to make a small fortune. Only time will tell who is right.
by Phil B.