People in 2040 will be manipulating themselves and their gene expression across four general categories: genetic disease, vanity, physical and cognitive performance, and metabolic health and longevity.
The first three categories will align with an individual's innate genetics and cultural preferences. Clearly, if one carries hereditary disease markers for something like cystic fibrosis or Huntington's, those genes will be eliminated, akin to vaccination at birth now.
Appearance will be controlled from the genetic level, but instead of converging into a single, universal beauty standard with the same set of gene manipulations, the multitude of subcultures today — with their own dress, hairstyles, and aesthetic standards — will further differentiate at the genetic level. Similarly for physical and cognitive performance standards, each subculture will optimize for different, and likely antithetical, outcomes. Using sport as an example, powerlifters will choose to up-regulate fast twitch muscles, while marathon runners will further optimize for slow twitch muscles.
Metabolism is how our body's cells produce energy, and longevity is heavily predicated on the efficiency of our metabolism.
Bottom line: Manipulation of genes controlling central metabolic regulators like IGF-1, FOXO3 and sirtuins will allow us to live longer. Biohackers today are already targeting some of these pathways through ketosis and fasting.
Other voices in the conversation:
- Sarah Richardson, co-founder of Microbyre: DNA is not a programming language
- Josiah Zayner, biohacker and CEO of The-ODIN: Non-medical DIY biohacking can create a better high
- Arthur Caplan, NYU bioethicist, and Carolyn Neuhaus, NYU postdoctoral fellow: The future of fun is in biohackers' hands