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Is Bio-Hacking Disturbing the Complex Balance between Nature and Technology

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It is not a piece of news to anyone that humans have escaped evolutionary extinction several times just like several other organisms living along our side but the interesting thing is that, unlike most animals who adapt/change themselves in a rather natural way and become a better fit for the environment, (follow the order of nature) we rely more on our unnatural technological developments to fight our survival battles.

In simple words, instead of advancing one’s physiological development, humans rather believe in modifying their environment/ nature in a way that benefits them. For ex. In case of a change in weather, a virus mutates or adapts in accordance with nature, it modifies its way of living and becomes a better fit to the environment, whereas, in the case of humans, instead of adapting in accordance to the environment, we focus more on changing the environment according to us. We build ACs, refrigerators, and cooling plasters i.e., we use our knowledge to break the natural course of the environment.

So a question arises that, how far should we go with our technological-medical advancements that meddle with the ways of nature?

Can we at some point be smarter than the forces of nature and try to control them for our benefit? Have we already achieved that point? Or are we just little fools who are so going to regret not following the laws of co-existence? To answer all these questions, we need to understand 

The Two Viewpoints of the Scientific Community

FIRST is the one that believes in the supreme dominance of nature. The one that believes that nature controls everything, powers everything, accommodates everything and we are mere pawns to its grand plans of management. It says that we can only survive if we respect nature’s boundaries and maintain a balance.

However, the SECOND branch believes mankind to be the supreme power. It believes that the homo sapiens species has advanced over all other species and components of the ecosystem and hence can hack the laws of nature and innovate to ensure the successful survival of humans. It believes in challenging the boundaries of nature by innovating with natural resources and the scientific process of trial and error.

Living in Harmony With Nature

Now, clearly, the second branch must be sounding extremely evil and obnoxious, but if you think properly, we have already crossed many boundaries of nature by an enormous margin. Our technological advancements have not left any chance at overexploiting natural resources for energy and commercial needs. So, at this point, any real discussion regarding getting back into harmonious co-existence with nature,( considering all the resources invested, waste accumulated, pollution generated) would majorly point towards losing most industrially manufactured product, from your cell phones to vaccines to aspirins and ACs and useless accessories or fashion statements; basically, it would mean living a nomadic life. And, maybe, that is the only kind of life that is actually in harmony with nature. Even the vague ideologies of sustainable development (which one would obviously assume to be a part of the first viewpoints), actually rather align with the second branch by focusing on the sole benefit of human generations. The standard definition of sustainable development says, “using resources in a way that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising with the needs of the future generations”.

The point being, we are too far off from being able to go back to harmonious coexistence with nature. So even though the believers of the first viewpoint preaches on bowing down in front of nature, probably the internet and network signal connections that it uses for the preaching are messing up with the bird migrations somewhere.

Can We Actually Think of Taking Over Nature?

So, what’s our plan then? Going back to make amends or giving another thought to the second viewpoint of the scientific community?

Now, as absurd as it sounds, we as humans have in several instances already overpowered the natural calamities to a significant extent with our technological advancements.

We have created medicines and houses that can fight omnipresent bacterias and earthquakes. All these phenomenons were supposed to kill us, but here we are, innovating and hacking, making new breakthroughs in research every day, and defeating nature in our own way. 

CRISPR, a new biotechnological tool, has been developed which is cheap and accessible (you can buy it with your pocket money from online shopping) and has highly accurate genetic editing potential. In simple words, it has become easier to collect any genetic preference such as height, the colour of eyes, or texture of hair and then transfer those genes to any subject of choice.  

Simple organisms and many reptiles have the ability to regenerate their organs, such as a lizard’s tail; now several scientists are trying to imitate this process of regeneration in more complex organisms to finally replicate the same for human beings. 

One may go on and on about all marvelous discoveries, but, you get the jest. Can these bio-hacking technologies lead to the creation of a race of superhumans?

When Do We Stop?

Humans once again showed their powers against the dangerous virus of Coronavirus which has become a deadly global pandemic, our scientists have delivered a new kind of vaccine in record time. Some scientists started working even without the physical presence of the virus by getting the gene sequence of the virus. This was the first mRNA vaccine to be used on humans outside of clinical trials.

If we did not innovate to create a vaccine, we would have had to mutate through several generations and learn how to fight the virus naturally instead we manipulated, exploited, and used nature to our service. We have now been able to cure genetic diseases, we have made vaccines, we have reached different planets, and we have created artificial organs and test-tube babies! So, does this mean that there might be a slight scope that we, with our scientific knowledge base, can challenge the all-powerful nature? And if not, do we even have any other option? 

The big question is, where do we draw the boundary deciding what is natural and what is unnatural, what is ethical, and what should not be done? And even if we find something to be naturally unethical and bizarre, do we now have the choice to stop relying on these scientific advancements? Moreover, we don’t even know what one can consider being bizarre! 100 years ago, when dying of tetanus would have been common, getting a vaccine would be called something bizarre. Would you consider the process of human regeneration bizarre?

All these thoughts puzzle up the imaginable future that humans can have over their course on the earth, but anyways, don’t put too much of your brains into it ;P

Post Written By – Vatsala Pandey