Is It Wise to Use Technology to Evolve the Human Species?
In a world of constantly advancing genetic knowledge, a question has arisen: Is it wise to use technology to evolve the human species? By using genetic technology, people have the potential to modify humans swiftly, improving them in ways that benefit them. Overall, I believe it is beneficial to the human species to influence its evolution through technology.
Though natural selection, a driving force in evolution, enables a species as a whole to better survive over generations, it does not always benefit individual organisms. Natural selection selects only for biological fitness, an organism’s ability to pass its genes on to its offspring. Peter Ward discusses how natural selection may have led to a greater prevalence of Tourette’s syndrome and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder explaining that “if these disorders increase one's chance of having children, they could become ever more prevalent with each generation” (Ward 2012). Though Tourette’s and ADHD may help the human species achieve greater biological fitness and therefore be selected for, they generally negatively impact the lives of individuals with these syndromes. By using genetic engineering or other technology to modify the human gene and remove detrimental traits, scientists can ensure human genetics are optimized not only for the biological fitness of the species but also for the happiness and wellbeing of individuals.
Additionally, using genetic engineering could reduce the element of chance in evolution. Naturally, new traits arise through mutations in the genetic code. These mutations are random and can influence an organism in many different ways- positively, negatively, or not at all. As Christie Wilcox explains, “these genetic changes don't anticipate an individual's needs in any way” (Wilcox 2012). Though natural selection selects for and against these traits to help organisms to become better suited to their environment, it is up to chance whether these traits appear in the first place, which results in evolution’s slow pace. Other random factors can also influence whether traits are passed on. Wilcox provides the example of “a massive hurricane [that] just happens to wipe out the vast majority of a kind of lizard, for example, leaving the one weird colored male to mate with all the girls” (Wilcox 2012). Regardless of whether the new color was beneficial, it would become prevalent in the population. Similarly, random events could cause the human species to evolve in random ways that are detrimental to the survival of the species. Deliberate genetic modification could reduce the reliance on random chance to beneficially evolve the human species. Rather than waiting for an allele to mutate and give humans better vision, genetic engineering would allow scientists to immediately change said allele without the “trial and error” approach of natural evolution. In this manner, technology could be used to quickly and deliberately change the human species for the better.
Using technology to modify human genes has the potential to positively impact the human species immensely. By using genetic engineering, scientists can quickly and deliberately change genes in ways beneficial to humans. Ultimately, I believe that genetically modifying humans is a good idea.