2052: <Reporting from Paris> Jaques Coulter was born at 2:54 am last night, his birth was unremarkable, and he is a healthy baby, boy.
In this unprecedented event, in the most ordinary of circumstances, changes the human race forever. Jaques is the first human born ex-utero, outside his mother’s womb, and using artificial egg and sperm modelled on his parents DNA. This beautiful baby boy is the first truly artificially made human.
But certainly possible, the idea of artificially gestated life forms is a popular science fiction idea, appearing most recently in “Man of Steel”. The idea of modifying our children in-utero already exists, and has gathered significant attention in the last two decades with ‘designer babies’ becoming a familiar, if not controversial idea.
In 1868 biologist, Ernst Haeckel uses the phrase “Stem Cells” to describe “fertilised egg that becomes an organism”, in humans this is a Zygote. This idea was eventually refined to be a group of undifferentiated cells used to create infinite combinations of new cells. Over the following century, various cells in tumors, bone marrow, embryos, and other systems were discovered that are part of or make up the creation of that cell or system. Sound complicated? It is, very much so. Genetics is one branch of science that does not suffer from our isolation in this world, in a hundred years from now it is possible we could have quadrupled our accumulated knowledge of genetics. In 2009, by executive order, USA President Obama allowed 13 lines of embryonic stem cells to be researched with federal funding. This order was an enormous advancement in science as the US conservative lobby often decries stem cells research based on religious ideology. Stem cells could be used to alter the path of some of the worst deteriorative diseases humans can contract. ALS (MND), Alzheimers, Parkinsons, blood and immune system, and bone or tissue growth diseases. Strokes, injury, arthritis, baldness, deafness, heart disease, diabetes, MS, Cancer. Though such treatments are distant, even the smallest steps in this aspect of human progress have been met with considerable opposition. The first readily obtainable stem cells came from the fertilised eggs of humans. Groups or individuals with strong Christian (in the US) or other religious ideology argued that it was beyond unethical because of the sacrifice of potential life. The same argument used to fight against any form of abortion. The controversy represented a classic moral dilemma to the public, the advancement of science versus the principles of religion. One of the typical watershed moments from the turbulent history of science and religion. A fight that in this instance existed largely outside the science sphere and became political, ideological. The progress of investigation and research into stem cells has become less politicised, perhaps. Science moved incrementally forward into new understanding, and at this point voices in our society raised themselves up and, very loudly, said no.
This is just an example of the technology today.
With an understanding of the founding principles of cell mitosis (Cell division). Knowing what roles each enzyme, chemical, protein, or other might play in the development of that cell. We might find ways to intercede, and change the outcome of that cell. It is not inconceivable that the sentence at the beginning of the post is a reality at some point in the future. But this is the rub.
“Only I can see the universe from my perch, see the world renewed each day in pertinent captivity. Seated quietly here, alone, to the world silent. I find worlds and pain, and loss and laughter shared with none” – unknown.
Stems Cells are the burgeoning of a concept that leads to a second sexual revolution. Why must I be born a certain way? I was born with the eventually inherited need of glasses; that doesn’t need to be the case. I see connections in everything, see the links that bring the world together in infinite complexity but lack the… process to convert it to language. In the end all of us are alone in our body, the variation of emotion, experience, and creativity lost to dust when we die. Save those precious few who can translate that into art.
The origin of our birth defines our limits, at the moment. The way we procreate, raise, and nurture our children defines them forever. One day that might not be the case. One day we may find another way to connect with each other.