How Our Right to Explore Space is Predicated On Us Becoming Cyborgs
Without the Reliance of Cybernetics and Gene Editing, We Won’t Stand a Chance in Deep Space
In September of 1960, the latest issue of Astronautics had made history. This history made a profound impact that wasn’t entirely felt then, but can be consistently felt today at an accelerating rate. In this issue, the term “cyborg” made its first ever appearance in the lexicon of human speech — and it was coined by the scientist and inventor Manfred Clynes.
From the very onset of Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline’s co-written article, “Cyborgs and Space,” they made it very clear that:
“Space travel challenges mankind not only technologically but also spiritually, in that it invites man to take an active part in his own biological evolution. Scientific advances of the future may thus be utilized to permit man’s existence in environments which differ radically from those provided by nature as we know it.”
Here on Earth we are protected. Our biological substrate operates quite sufficiently, and our planet accommodates the external forces of the universe to ensure they don’t reign hell down upon our biologically limited capacities. Our protector isn’t an invisible man in the sky; no, we know it as the magnetosphere.
Because of the magnetosphere, we humans are protected from the both the scorching flares of the sun and the radiation that follows suit. Without it, well…we’d be no more advanced than a baked potato. Not only that, the entire universe is flooded with radioactive particles that are naked to the human eye.
Known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), this radiation fills the entire universe which can be detected using modern instruments in every direction we can think of. In other words, we are essentially being held captive by our Earthly domain if not for any other reason than survival. We might be growing increasingly bored of this planet, but one cannot deny that without it we’d quickly perish and be thrown into the dustbin of history — for now.
That unfortunate reality, however, is soon about to change. Which brings us right back to that term coined by Manfred Clynes.
“The task of adapting man’s body to any environment he may choose will be made easier by increased knowledge of homeostatic functioning, the cybernetic aspects of which are just beginning to be understood and investigated.”
If we are to embark on the greatest journey our species has ever voyaged, we must first figure out how to survive the trip. So much is stacked against us — from radiation to micro-gravity conditions, which causes bone loss at a rate of 1 to 1.5 percent per month. No matter how high we stack ourselves on top of the food chain here on Earth, we are no match to the might of deep space.
Manfred Clynes knew this already. He saw the limiting capacity of our biological substrate and wasn’t all that impressed. Nor should he be. We are a frail species. If we are to take that leap and explore the deepest unknown voids of the cosmos, then our current meat suit must be left behind.
The goals listed in the above image are that of the robotics company Humai. As a sum result of these goals, humanity will be radically transformed into something much more. We will become cyborgs, whether by cybernetic integration or via advanced genetic engineering — or both!
These goals are certainly controversial, and will most certainly be responded to in opposition by pocketed sections of the human population who believe humanity is perfect as is. And that’s fine. Like most anything, each individual will be granted the right to choose their own destiny — whether it’s to remain biologically organic or to transcend their biological limitations via advanced science and technology.
But without that transformation, those individuals will not be able to leave their Earthly confinement and explore the deepest depths of space. Not for a long time, at least. And let’s not forget that the existence of Earth itself is on a timer, one which we cannot possibly see.
For those who do choose to transcend, however, well…as the old adage goes, “the sky is the limit.” Though in this case, not even the sky will hold us back. When equipped with a bionic body, our newly designed substrate will have the potential of easily accommodating the fierce conditions of space. No radiation nor micro-gravity conditions will deter us from our mission.
“If man in space, in addition to flying his vehicle, must continuously be checking on things and making adjustments merely in order to keep himself alive, he becomes a slave to the machine. The purpose of the Cyborg, as well as his own homeostatic systems, is to provide an organizational system in which such robot-like problems are taken care of automatically and unconsciously, leaving man free to explore, to create, to think, and to feel.”
But where might gene editing come into effect if our biological substrate is replaced with an entirely new full-body prosthetic? This is where it might get a bit more controversial, but no less true if our goal remains to colonize the universe.
Like any horny human who’s dreamt of exploring the cosmos, you’ve more than likely had the subsequent envisioning of having sex in space. Ignoring the fact that sex in space would be a far more complicated task to achieve than “down here” on Earth, what’s even more important to contemplate is the likelihood of conceiving children in space as well. And in this possibility, no other result would come other than the quick and painful death of said child.
Deep space might be a gradual death sentence for us biological human adults, but for children, that death sentence would be far quicker. Which is why we must come to the realization that, without the aid of advanced technologies like gene editing, our journey into the cosmos will be an infertile one. While it might seem like a cliché to justify a claim based on a “think of the children” argument, but yes, please, do think of the children!
Today, we might be clamoring out into every direction about the ethical implications of a future of genetically modified children — aptly referred to as “Designer Babies” — but without the promise of genetic engineering, it would subsequently be unethical of us to conceive children while exploring the cosmos. With it, however, we’ll be able to genetically modify newly conceived human embryos to accommodate the harsh conditions of space. From there, they’ll gradually join the spacefaring population of cyborgs, exploring and colonizing the universe.
We have very difficult — albeit very important — questions to be answered ahead of us. And we mustn’t allow them to put us at an impasse, or else Earth might very well be the only home we know of throughout the universe.
Simply put: without the reliance of cybernetics and gene editing, we won’t stand a chance in deep space.
“We are all tired of being stuck on this cosmical speck with its monotonous ocean, leaden sky, and single moon that is half useless. Its possibilities are exhausted, and just as Greece became too small for the civilization of the Greeks, so it seems to me that the future glory of the human race lies in the exploration of at least the solar system!”
- John Jacob Astor IV, A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future, 1894