The age of immortality is coming. Man’s desire to outwit death combined with our ever constant harnessing of technology means that immortality is inevitable. Exactly when that will happen is debatable but you can see the seeds of that future being planted today. Whether those means are purely technology or a symbiosis of technology and biology is unknown at the moment but rest assured, the moment is hurtling at us like a high speed train.
Question Is: Who Will Get to Live Forever?
A natural pessimism is understandable given the subject. Popular culture taught us to expect a cyberpunk dystopia where the rich get the spoils and the scraps go to the working class underneath.
But those that really understand the current state of technology and latest trends have to realize that the open source movement will tip the scales of that arrangement.
For those that aren’t familiar with the concept, the Free Software Movement started in 1984 with the creation of The GNU Project, the world’s first free operating system. In 1985, creator Richard Stallman started the Free Software Foundation. According to Stallman, software is considered free if you, the user, have the freedom to:
- Run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
- Modify the program to suit your needs. (To make this freedom effective in practice, you must have access to the source code, since making changes in a program without having the source code is exceedingly difficult.)
- Redistribute copies, either gratis or for a fee.
- Distribute modified versions of the program, so that the community can benefit from your improvements.
These ideals, which continue to thrive in the tech community more than three decades later through organizations like Open Source Initiative and Github, have created the backbone of the open source community. It has opened the doors wide open for both professionals and hobbyist to enter the world of technology without expensive degrees or specialist hardware.
So what does this have to do with immortality? With a few exceptions, most technology is open source. The source code for almost everything can be found online and, if not the exact code, – a variation of it exists that allows users to tinker and create their own visions.
For example, the BioHack Academy lets users from all over the world design, build, use and share their own biolabs in an effort to create communal knowledge. Using the tools on the organization’s Github site users can create their own DIY incubator, webcam microscope, sterile hood, magnetic stirrer and more.
Indeed, those looking for a crash course in biohacking and transhumanism should look no further than The Biohacking Bible. The repository of code was created as a point of reference to biohackers around the world. They broke down the repository alphabetically for ease of use and it contains information on everything from CRISPR technology to helpful association links and DIY lab kits.
Once you’ve done your homework and you’re ready to dive in you will need some equipment and test material. Open source has that covered as well. A notable example is BioBricks Foundation, which was founded in the mid-2000s and started the Free Genes Project, where users can request certain gene sequences for their DIY purposes.
The genes are then checked for biosecurity, suitability, synthesis and other crucial features. Once enough genes have been compiled for an order, – a public post is made under the Open Material Transfer Agreement. Then the sequences are made public and DNA is distributed. “Free Genes distributes continuously to anyone, including academics, non-profits, companies, and even DIYbio hackers,” explains the site.
If you are into tinkering with gene editing in home conditions, then Opentrons might be your best bet. The company has created open source, user friendly lab equipment at affordable prices cracking the high-tech world of #DIYbiology wide open.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for what is currently available today. Those looking to contribute to current projects should check out Github for a plethora of options.
For those looking to take a more proactive approach the Dangerous Things website sells inexpensive chip implant kits for under $300.
Let’s be honest, anyone with a cheap computer that runs on Linux can work on the creation of computer software, potentially to be used by millions of other geeks and amateurs alike.
Just like open source software, gene editing techniques will be constantly developed by an ever increasing community of biotech aficionados.
Immortality will be handed on the gilded plate to those who will be able to afford it. It will not, however, mean it will be limited only to the top 1 %.
Rather Immortality will belong to smart and inquisitive minds, who really, really want it and who are ready to work hard to crack the code of life.
Transpire is condemning the recent sentencing of He Jiankui by Chinese authorities and vows to legalise safe and academic attempts at improving human species and ridding it of debilitating diseases.