A-Z of the Future > Biotechnology
Biotechnology is destined to have an astounding impact on what it means to be human. Simply put, it's technology based on biological systems and processes - those building blocks of life.
By altering nature's cells, biotechnology has the potential to create and change fundamental aspects of our daily lives, including life itself. New technologies are enabling advancements in how we consider what these complex and microscopic biological systems can do.
Computers can crunch genetic data, such as DNA and our human genome, meaning we have the ability to genetically modify living organisms as we wish. The CRISPR genetic engineering tool can alter cells with incredible precision, which should help treat and cure diseases on a mass scale. By creating new medicines, reducing our need on petroleum and the food we eat, biotechnology may heal, fuel and feed the world.
But with this new dawn comes risk and uncertainty. The ability to alter living organisms, with evolutionary implications for our descendants, raises ethical concerns that will have to be agreed on a global level. The likelihood of ‘designer babies’, altered in the embryo, means that humanity could take direct control over the evolution of our own species. And giving life’s cells a digital footprint opens the door to the threat of biohacking, where individuals could be personally attacked, inside out.
We're entering nature’s technological revolution, in which we have to balance the dream of improved and personalised healthcare with the ethical and safety concerns of what it means to fundamentally alter the building blocks of life as we know it.