When we speak of the future human, we often talk about how we can enhance our capabilities. If only we had super vision, hyper speed, or quicker minds, we could become the super humans, or superheroes, we have all grown up admiring. Something I often think about is, if we do come to the point where technology is extending the human capability to superman-like powers, how will this inherently change our society?
The Olympics have long been the global event that celebrates the capability of the human body at the highest level. Athletes in their respected fields are admired, and those at the very top reach international fame. Use of performing enhancing drugs are prohibited, and those caught doping lose their medals and their popularity. Steroids are tested for in every sport. In this case, extending the human capability is a cheat to the natural body.
However, as we progress in science for our quest of this future human, we risk blurring the lines of what’s natural and what’s not. What will we embed in our bodies? How will we alter our make-up, and how do we determine whether an athlete is clean or not?
These concerns are already here with the introduction of gene doping. Gene doping permits athletes to increase muscle mass and strength significantly through gene altercation. Originally made for people with injuries or disabilities, gene doping has surfaced illegally in competition already. The Olympic Committee has already invested in creating testing techniques to catch gene dopers, and speaks vehemently against its use.
I wonder how long we can regulate sport, as we already have plenty of cases of cheaters that slip through the cracks. What will the future Olympian look like? Maybe we throw in the towel in terms of testing and call it a free for all — use whatever you’d like to win, super human vs. super human. May the best man-machine-technology win.