Brave New Health World
Have you ever been excited and terrified in equal parts? Those were the emotions I felt reading about new healing technologies being used and enhanced right now. (CNN: Healing the Future.)
- Did you know that scientists have created a chip that can be implanted near your waistline that will give you the correct dosage of several medications? The idea was created by MIT researchers in the 1990’s, a trial was successful in 2012, and it’s set to be released on a grand scale in 2017.
- An experimental cancer treatment teaches the patient’s immune system to fight off cancer cells like they would the common cold. One 14 year old boy tried chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant from his sister without success. Two months after this new treatment he is cancer free. 21 other children were treated with this new approach and 18 of them had similar responses.
- A 3-D printer is being used to print new skin for burn victims and has been used to print out a new skull for a 22 year old patient in the Netherlands. One day scientists envision being able to print organs, like the heart, from a person’s own cells.
The innovations keep coming. Fixing sickle cell DNA; training your brain to work faster and better; having a doctor be able to monitor and map your bio-levels remotely; all these things sound wonderful if you and/or a loved one are very sick, but a little unnerving if you are currently healthy.
If hackers can break into my Target credit card account, couldn’t they break into my medical chip and hold me hostage for ransom money and cause me to overdose if I don’t meet their demands? I mean, yes, it’s sort of a Tom Clancy scenario, but so is an implanted medical chip.
If scientists can start printing out new organs, couldn’t they conceivably print out new ones every 20 years? Can you imagine the wisdom of a 70-year-old paired with the body parts of a college student? It’s great if the 70-year-old has morals, but what if he didn’t? How easily could the younger generation be manipulated by the older generation to do very bad things? It isn’t that far a mental leap to consider how various countries might utilize brain technology to create super soldiers, if they haven’t already.
And if science cures all diseases, and creates eternal youth, then what? Will our planet become over populated? Will society be rearranged like the way Aldous Huxley envisioned in Brave New World back in 1931, with all people living an exceptionally good life, aided by soma pills, that ends at 60? Will babies be born into different genetically modified caste systems created in test tube fertility centers to make the society easier to control?
Like many people, I want to live a long and healthy life. I would love to be disease-free and look perpetually 25 forever. But a little voice inside me also wonders if anyone is questioning the potential consequences and ethics of this Brave New Health World?
What do you think?
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