Being Immortal through Science: Beyond Human

The nexus between technology and medicine is fast evolving, giving way to new hopes and believes. Cyborg is already in making and very soon immortality might also be possible with the radical medical technologies of today. Science writer Eve Herold has bagged on this idea in her book, ‘Beyond Human.’ Beyond Human is a well-scripted description of transhumanism.

Beyond Human captures the current state of the converging technologies in medicine, including microelectronics, engineering, nanotechnology, cellular and gene therapies, and robotics. Such a nexus enables humans to live for hundreds of years, making immortality a possibility. Beyond Human examines the nexus between such advanced biotechnology and the ethical and practical issues that arise thereafter.

Herold through Beyond Human tries to tap the minds of doctors and scientists and also general people while narrating the heights that technology can reach and at the same time dealing with the consequences it has to offer. In the process, Herold presents some stories of the patients taking the new radical treatments.

One of such stories is that of Victor, who is 250 years old but, looks and feels like 30. Victor having suffered from heart disease in his 50s and 60s, can run marathons and still feel strong. Because now he has an artificial heart implanted. His type 2 diabetes was cured by implantation of an artificial pancreas. He has an artificial arm that obeys his thought process and is stronger than the normal arm. Computer chips have replaced his worn out retina cells. He wears a contact lens that streams information about his body and environment to his eye. This lens also enables him to access the internet at any time through voice commands. Despite being healthy and fit irrespective of his age, is also smart because of the neural implants made to extend memory. Age has just become a number, with such radical medical technological innovations.

However, his life was not all about happiness. His wife Elaine and himself were strong supporters of anti- artificial biomedical interventions movement in their college days. Victor had to diverge from that opinion when he had to choose between staying with his family for years and staying in his opinion. Elaine could not change her opinion on artificial biological interventions and had to die as a natural course of aging. Victor had to experience all the pain of his wife whom he loved immensely, leaving him forever.

Victor at certain stages of his life felt thankful to the radical advancements in technology, that let him live for years, with his family. He nevertheless felt such advanced technology as a trap.

It is evidential that though technological advancements are beneficial to an extent, beyond a point can turn harmful and useless. Herold writes, “As exciting as these possibilities sound, they could be extremely dangerous if human beings don’t change the more belligerent side of their nature.”

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Shobith MAKAM Written by: