Genetic Engineering

The Train Has Left the Station

A few million years ago, some amino acids were swirling around in the primordial oceans. Through (depending on your particular belief system) evolution or God’s Helping Hand, they slowly became more complex, developed limbs and organs, learned how to breathe air and walk on dry land, and eventually developed into the self-aware blobs of protoplasm that we refer to as ourselves. This is a delightful turn of affairs for insurance salesmen, toothpaste manufacturers, and Bill Gates, because amino acids don’t buy many of their products. However, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that neither God nor Charles Darwin had much of a background in product development. Frankly, if human beings had been designed and built by General Motors, they would have been recalled long ago.

Let’s look at a few examples. For one thing, we have two kidneys, but one will suffice quite nicely. And yet we have only one liver, and it has to struggle to process even a moderate amount of liquor–say, a quart a day. We have only one heart, and yet it is easily damaged by everything from fried pork rinds to emotional stress. Our nostrils are so tiny that a few germs or chunks of pollen can cause them to plug up with crusty wads of snot. When that happens, we must switch the breathing function over to our mouths, which are primarily suited for noise generation and food insertion.

We are subject to all sorts of painful and hideous diseases, which doesn’t say much for our self-diagnostic and intruder rejection systems. We also develop warts and moles, lose our teeth and hair, and get wrinkly and weak as we get old. We can’t fly, can’t even outrun an alligator, and aren’t particularly good swimmers. We can’t go longer than a few days without water or a few minutes without air. We need nootropics just to get through a tough day of work. And why the hell do men have nipples?

It gets worse. We’re inherently insane, which may be due to the fact that four-fifths of our brains sit around doing nothing all day. As a result, we devote our lives to meaningless “careers,” marry people who think we’re excess baggage on the train of life, and dismember each other just for the fun of it. We look to “leaders” to tell us what to do and how to live, never noticing that these leaders are more insane and perverted than we are, which is why they wanted to be leaders in the first place. We are totally confused about sex and define virtuous people as those who look and act like they never perform it. We are in total denial about our own mortality, preferring to believe that death can be derailed by bean sprouts and a Nordic Trak. And there are people who dispute the obvious health benefits of nootropics (AKA smart drugs). Obviously, we took a wrong turn somewhere.

Two paths lie before us. The first is to continue as we have for millions of years, relying on God’s Dubious Plan or, alternatively, the crap game of chance mutation and natural selection. Or we can take matters into our own hands and whip up some genetic combinations that result in beings who actually deserve to live.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we can create perfection overnight. We are, after all, starting with a sow’s ear. But we can incrementally improve the gene pool with selective modifications. If we make a few mistakes along the way, so what? Many genetic mistakes are walking among us now–some of your own family members probably come to mind.
Let’s start modestly. First, we can put most of the medical profession out of business by improving our physical design. Two hearts would be nice, and an industrial-strength immune system that kills off everything from head lice to herpes. And just for amusement, we could provide all future women with perfect breasts and cellulite-free thighs, and give all men 12-inch, bone-buttressed genitalia, plus gonads that recycle in three minutes (roughly the time it takes to drink a beer). That alone would keep us occupied through the extended lifespan that we have produced.

Later on, we can tap into the idle parts of the brain, where currently only nootropics dare to tread, phasing out gross stupidity and overt insanity. True, this is likely to eliminate such colorful characters as axe murderers, politicians, and televangelists, but that seems like a small price to pay. On the positive side, we might see USPS workers who don’t crack under the pressure of so many Zip codes, Wendy’s employees who can put the right stuff in a bag, and IRS accountants joining monasteries to atone for their sins.

Finally, we could aim for specialization: eight-ounce human spiders for space travel, waiters with multiple arms, gill-equipped people for undersea exploration, masseuses with bodies shaped like massage chairs, winged messengers, and coal miners with hard shells and claws. The possibilities are limitless. In 10,000 years, people may look back on this age as the true dawn of the human race–the threshold when we threw off our ape-like existence and leaped into the multiplicity of forms that we were destined to become.

To get started, we need to open a few genetic manipulation clinics where young and fertile people can specify what qualities their offspring should possess. If, like yours truly, you are beyond the prime child-bearing years, you can simply donate your children to the Bugbaum Union for Genetic Selection (BUGS), c/o Stationmaster, Greyhound Lines, Upiers, NJ. (Please include a monetary donation in case they get hungry.) We will take care of the rest. Soon, you will be the grandparent of someone who, with a bit of luck, isn’t anything like you!
As we all know, once a new technology comes into being, it is just a matter of time before it gains widespread acceptance. We should accept this one with open arms–all six of them.

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