Jul 29, 2017

The future of fun is in biohackers’ hands

Our Expert Voices conversation on DIY biohacking.

CRISPR-kits allow people to do at home what once was reserved for only the highest-tech research labs: turn on and off gene expression. Therefore, DIY CRISPR kits may target biohackers' own genes by 2040; CRISPRing nerve tissue may come to be seen on par with taking ecstasy. The future of fun is in biohackers' hands.

If you look at past interests of this community to guide predictions, we think it'll be enhancing human senses — heightening sensitivity to touch, achieving a better high, a more satisfying sexual encounter. Mix gene hacking with teenage or 20-something DIY gene hackers and you get mighty efforts to have a more fun night out.

From an ethical perspective, we should worry about dangerous effects of DIY gene editing, including off-target effects. The use of CRISPR in basements and dorm rooms, and subsequent flood of YouTube videos chronicling CRISPR-fueled experiences, mean that its risks might not be fully characterized or understood before others join in.

Bottom line: A genetically enhanced high may be so intense that the notion of addiction won't even capture the attachment people may have to their enhanced experiences. They may be so intense that they overwhelm those who try to indulge.

Other voices in the conversation:

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