The late physicist feared that one day, some humans would turn to DNA manipulation to become a race of superhumans. He predicted right before his death in March that this century, people will be able to edit some of the human traits like intelligence and aggression. He worried that genetic engineering would be a possibility for the wealthy.
In a set of essays and articles – “Brief Answers to the Big Questions,” that were published after his death, he wrote about this future. He said that humanity would enter a “new phase of what might be called self-designed evolution, in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA. We have now mapped DNA, which means we have read ‘the book of life,’ so we can start writing in corrections.”
Genetic Engineering for the Wealthy
He added that there would probably be laws about genetic engineering and restricting it to only several things like removing a critical disease, but would humans pass on the opportunity to “improve human characteristics, such as size of memory, resistance to disease and length of life”?
As soon as superhumans would appear, Hawking explained that there will be political problems with the humans that were not improved and would not be able to compete with the new race, so he concluded that the unimproved humans will become unimportant or die out.
In the end, he said that humans would become a “race of self-designing beings” that will keep on improving themselves. If they achieve a self-redesign, they
Ultimately, he envisioned a “race of self-designing beings who are improving themselves at an ever-increasing rate. If the human race manages to redesign itself, it will probably spread out and colonize other planets and stars.”
Other researchers and ethicists also fear that DNA editing would lead to a similar future imagined by Hawking. Gene-editing technology already comes with major disputes, already being a concerning issue in the food industry and among environmental groups.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.