One Futurist's View of Genetic Engineering:
A Timeline



Somatic genetic engineering
. The replacement or reprogramming of genetic material in specific, differentiated and developed tissue. Used to treat a specific illness, such as diabetes. (this technology is currently in its infancy)

Human cloning.
Information gleaned from cloning research, such as understanding totipotency and differentiation will have importance. However, cloning will have very little practical use (why replicate person X when it's just as easy to make someone better than X?). (2012, depending on legislation)

Genetic Prognostication. The classification of genes and their expressions. (ongoing)

Embryonic Engineering
. The admittance and omission of specific genes and gene complements in the zygote or early embryo. The effect would be to eliminate certain diseases and give the individual strong predilections, such as muscle tone and intellect.
One near future and foreseeable process:
"Shake and Bake": Mom and dad contribute germ cells. (Dad's are already numerous and in ready package. A single oocyte, in meiosis 1, is gotten from mom and then replicated in the lab). Anywhere from, say, 10 to several thousand zygotes are created in vitro. After a number of embryonic divisions a sample cell is removed from each and prognosticated. Mom and dad choose one (or more) from the four or five best cases. (Something like this appears to have been the case in the movie Gattaca)
(2020)

Comprehensive Genetic Engineering (CGE)
: CGE will require knowledge of genetic permutations and spacial permutations of the expressed proteins. For this task current computing technology falls short by many orders of magnitude. It is my belief that something like quantum computing, which can process extremely large numbers of cases, will usher in CGE. CGE will allow for extremely fine control over the organism. Genetic determinism will become an art, that is, being able to increase the the likelihood of attributes by the mutual action of genes. This era marked by:
a) age reversal
b) disease elimination
c) limb regeneration (in situ)
(2015-2080)

Real-Time Genetic Engineering (RTGE): The as-thorough-as-you-like real-time genetic replacement in, and hence re-design of, the individual. An analogy is a computer application update patch that selectively replaces particular lines in the application's code. (2020)

Novel, or Exhaustive Genetic Engineering (EGE): EGE has not only fully catalogued natural genetic systems, but will be able to foresee (by Prognostication) and design virtually ANY arbitrary organism. This era marked by:
a) completely new organ chemistry and design, such as new muscle designs, replacing the actin-myosin type
b) multiple and remote neural systems (immortality (??)) for the individual...
(2060- )

 

 

 

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© Dave Zes 2005