(Sarif Industries from Dues Ex - Human Revolution, emcompasses much of what our first few biomodification firms will likely resemble. Can you afford to suppress your immune system to keep up with technology?).
The first human DNA draft was released in the year 2000, and in 2006 it was declared completed (that’s the fully mapped human genome (you’ve likely heard about).
By increasing our understanding of our genetic code, we are able to examine inherited defects and disorders, as well as other maladies and precursors that otherwise might not have been caught at all.
In the year 2008 (AD) the US Government passed the 'The Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act'; making it illegal to discriminate against someone based against their genetic markers and general DNA data. Specific concerns were for health insurers and employers refusing to work with those with precursors for heart disease, cancers and other severe illnesses.
This marks the beginning (hopefully) of protection against unfair advantage gained by technology, at least for the near future. Not knowing your genetic weaknesses will not be a disadvantage for you when seeking insurance or employment - however the legislation arose because of increasing ease of access to such analyses, what will happen when such information is almost openly attainable to everyone, regardless of location or wealth?
(Apparently this is the plot to the 1997 movie Gattaca - I confess I haven't seen it. I was 7.)
It doesn’t seem abnormal to assume that the more widespread such information becomes, the less it will be ignored in the name of equality, and after all – why send soldiers into active duty if they are susceptible to heat fatigue and/or heart failure? You would be endangering their lives – and wasting funds training them for combat in the first place (the latter potentially taking a higher degree of importance).
Once humanity becomes tired of its biological limits and physical and mental augmentation becomes feasible, we will begin to encounter the final hurdle in the process – our own immune systems. Certain people will simply be incompatible with foreign objects, and will either need to take immune-suppressants (which carry their own health concerns), or have their implants specifically made for them, using stem cells (and other general-use biological substances – ew).
The future may use an advanced form of DNA analysis to predict suitability to modifications, as well as provide an inescapable 'biometric identification system' containing information about your genetic weaknesses and strengths. You could meet someone and immediately determine whether you would want to breed with them. This wouldn't be discrimination necessarily, just having a better informed populace.
But we do not know what we may become
Can we reduce people so easily to a code listing their defects?
Well the same happens based on skin colour, accent, education level, IQ, wealth and location, on a daily basis, all around the globe.
I would answer yes, we can differentiate based on DNA suitabilities quite easily.
Is it fair? What do you think? Would you like to hear what diseases you'll likely get later in life, so that you can act now to avoid them (or better enjoy your life, knowing the likely time it will end)?
Next week I'll look into more advanced human augmentation that is feasible in the next 10 years, in various fields.
But you can get a taster here, with a handy table made by AVAcore. This is what DARPA is currently examining, around the world.
"If you can write DNA, you're no longer limited to 'what is' but to what you could make." Drew Endy