Sunday, November 12, 2006

DNA Hardware and the final frontier

I did not mean it literally when I wrote about Software DNA, but DNA hardware seems to be at hand: 'Alive and clicking, the computer made from life itself".

The notion of an organic computer reminded me of a Time Magazine article titled "What will replace silicon". It also points us eerily past the reality of an intriguing article featured the Fortune Magazine, titled "Quantum leap", where headbands enable the interfacing between the human brain and powerful and pervasive computers.

For some reason, the possibility of organic computers that can be injected and integrated into the human body has darkened my thoughts about the future of mankind. During WWII, the battles between Axis and Allies were fought over world domination as much as they were fought over the unwarranted genetic superiority of a race.

Decades later, Jared Diamond, in his excellent "Guns, Germs, and Steel", further challenged the myth of genetic superiority in favor of geographic and societal factors.

What darkened my perception of the future was the thought of what could happen when genetic superiority becomes tangible and measurable. Ethics, science, law, even religion, as we know them will be challenged in ways that will dwarf the controversy over the cloning of human beings or stem cell research.

Far from the romantic belief in the superiority of men over machine, hidden in the inscrutable complexity of our brains and the scientifically unproven existence of an omniscient God-like entity; the possibility of an organic computer completely sidesteps the discussion. Humanity does not have to be defeated, just subverted. It is a subtle argument, but once we can no longer separate between what we wear and what we are, then Jared Diamond's book will have ceased to be a treaty about the triumph of human potential and have become a book of history about the time when all men could evolve equally given the same resources and conditions.

Some could argue that the innocent usage of the technology should preserve our humanity, but then again, humanity is not known for moderation. No matter how much I try, I cannot avoid imagining the 'what if' scenarios explored in John Mnemonic (1995) and Gattaca (1997) .

As a fellow blogger once said, "I don't have to like the future to know it is coming". And it is coming fast.

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