General Question

SmashTheState's avatar

What changes would you make in a redesign of the human body?

Asked by SmashTheState (14228points) September 10th, 2019

PLEASE NOTE: This is being asked in GENERAL. I’m interested in thoughtful, factual responses, not jokes.

We are on the verge of a genetic Singularity, and have been since HUGO was completed and lit the fuse. Now CRISPR has gotten us to the point of boutique genetic engineering, and it’s soon going to be possible to start redefining what it means to be human.

If it was up to you, what physical changes would you make to the human body? Extra limbs? Photosynthetic skin? Hollow bones and wings? Eyes which see into the x-ray spectrum? Gills? Supernumerary organs for back-up? Muscular hypertrophy? Other?

You should also indicate whether you think these changes should breed true. It’s fine to add six arms, a tail, super-strength, and fast-twitch muscles when one lives in a technological civilization with access to surplus food, but what happens if and when that civilization collapses and suddenly humans require 15,000 calories a day to scrape by during a new ice age?

These are the kinds of questions I’d like to see people considering.

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24 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I would start by making the sexual organs separate from those used for waste disposal.

Also, civilization is not going to collapse.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake You know for an absolute 100% certainty that Earth is not going to be struck by a rogue asteroid, a Carrington event, a grey goo accident, a clathrate gun, a gamma ray burst, or any of a hundred different civilization-collapsing possibilities… how?

ragingloli's avatar

Retire the male gender. Not needed.
Reproduction will be fully asexual, pregnancy will be a conscious decision by the host, with automatic internal dna shuffling to ensure genetic diversity.
(alternatively, males will be made infertile, relegated to servitude like worker bees.)
Live birth will be abolished, replaced by the tried and true method of egg laying, to ensure the mother organism remains fully operational, and to enable rapid deployment of offspring if necessary.

SmashTheState's avatar

@ragingloli What happens to war when each side can produce new soldiers at a rate limited only by the amount of food available for reproduction? Once you start that train rolling downhill, you now have a colossal and unsupportable number of humans produced and educated for nothing but war and a diminishing amount of resources to be fought over. Sounds like a recipe for annihilation to me.

ragingloli's avatar

With no more men on the planet, the likelyhood of war will be severely diminished.

SmashTheState's avatar

“War is the continuation of diplomacy by other means.”Carl von Clausewitz

There will always be war. Male or female, post-scarcity or not, technological or not, war will always exist because in a physical Universe, physical force is the final arbiter of all conflict.

ucme's avatar

Our noses the other way around, nostrils facing up would allow us to breathe more easily while swimming due to floods, like a snorkel kind of thing.
Also, when we sneeze it would mimic the action of your bog standard paddle steamer, ideal for jaunts around the harbour & what not.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Spare set of parts, Heart, Kidneys, Liver ....! For future use.

JLeslie's avatar

I like HJ’s answer.

Aside from that I would make changes on the cellular level. Able to regrow parts if they get removed. Less dependence on specific nutrients, any calories work for all parts of the body efficiently.

janbb's avatar

After breaking my ankle, I have concluded that it would be great if we didn’t have physical bodies at all. I’d be willing to give up sex and food for no pain ever.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would add cloraplasts next to mitochondria so most organs will not be needed. Limbs would regenerate. Also I would boost the brain power as much as I can get.
Super human powers would be nice.

In the end we might look like the typical area 51 alien.

SmashTheState's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 Interesting bit of trivia, we already do. Look like Greys, that is. If you look at a conceptual picture of a human with each body part scaled by the number of nerve endings it contains, we look shockingly like big-headed, tiny-bodied aliens with enormous mouths and eyes, giant hands and feet… and monstrously huge genitalia.

flutherother's avatar

The fact that we all wear clothes shows how badly we are adapted to our environment. At the very least we should have hair all over our bodies to keep us warm. That much is obvious.

Man should also be redesigned with longer, more muscular arms. In the coming world, where forests will grow where cities once stood it will be advantageous when climbing back into the trees. Finally, a prehensile tail and you will have the perfect man.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

For the brain power I would increase the volume of blood that fuels the brain.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would have redundant back-up organs. Two or more of every organ. Like two spinal cords and hearts.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’d design the digestive system to process food more efficiently reducing the quantities we eat and producing less waste. Add some length to the colon and intestines.

I would use some form of light pass through so solar energy could aid in the chemical process.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy Just get rid of the wrinkles and cancer from the sun please. I think I would be much healthier if I got more sun even with what our bodies can do today, but I have to worry about the down side and I’m caught in a catch 22.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Eliminate the gallbladder and add “bile on demand” functions to the liver. I’d also fine tune the liver to process alcohol better.
I’d add over pressure regulation to the kidneys so high blood pressure does not destroy them.
I’d add the baculum back to males and remove hair on genetalia. I’d add automatic weight regulation keeping body fat to an ideal percentage.

anniereborn's avatar

Have a different food entryway than the one you also breathe out of, for crying out loud.

JLeslie's avatar

@anniereborn Gosh yes! Great idea.

SmashTheState's avatar

I guess I should answer my own question. These are the changes I’d make to baseline human across the board, irrespective of any additional changes each individual may choose to make themselves:

- Eyes which see into the deep infra-red and ultraviolet, all the way down to radio and up to x-rays.

- Senses which can be deactivated at will, with cut-off nodes at nerve junctures. So you should be able to close your ears or shut off your tongue, and you should also be able to deactivate both the sense of touch and pain sensation at each nerve cluster to allow oneself to turn off pain to specific regions.

- Voluntary thermoregulation and digestion. You should be able to set your internal thermostat higher or lower according to preference, so you can feel toasty warm walking naked in a snowstorm if you can afford the extra calories. Digestion should likewise be optional, so that food and liquid can be held internally without digesting if desired, then the processing switched on when it’s needed or convenient.

- Externally-triggered body regrowth. The problem with having people restore themselves starfish-like automatically is you end up constantly teething, constantly regrowing hymens and foreskins, and undoing plastic surgery for conditions like a harelip. Therefore there should be some simple enzyme used as a trigger for regrowth, which would occur only in the presence of that enzyme.

- Rapid (de-)pigmentation. Melanin production should be triggered on an emergency basis when exposed to dangerous levels of UV radiation. Tans should occur nearly instantly, with high-UV exposure turning people completely black. On the other hand, in the absence of such exposure, pigment should drain rapidly to translucency to maximize vitamin D production.

- A universal blood interface port. To facilitate medical treatment, a port somewhere on the body should provide direct access to the circulatory system without the need to break the skin.

- Neonatal androgyny. Humans should be able to hedge their bets, being intersexed until adulthood, when each person can choose the sex of their preference—or choose to remain intersexed.

- A kill switch. Humans should have the power to choose to die at any time simply by willing it so.

- A one-way immortality trigger. It should be possible to choose to stop aging, but only at the cost of permanently destroying reproductive ability. Likewise, giving birth (or having viable sperm ejaculations) should permanently disable the ability to stop aging. You can reproduce or become biologically immortal, but not both.

There are a lot more changes I’d make to my own body, but these are things I think should be bred into the mainline of human genetics.

gorillapaws's avatar

I would like to expand the short-term mental bandwidth. Humans can only hold about 7 items in their minds for short periods of time. It would be awesome if that limit was expanded.

It would be cool if I could archive memories in external media, though there’s definitely drawbacks to that as well. There was an episode of Black Mirror that showed how that could go horribly wrong.

I’d also like to be able to input textual information directly into my brain without having to read the characters and convert them into language mentally. I’m a slow reader, and that’s been a source of frustration for me my whole life, as well as limited some of the career opportunities that I could pursue.

Expanding the spectrum of detectable sensations would be cool, but I’d want to be able to adjust that sensitivity at-will. It would be cool if the senses could detect other phenomena, like how fish can sense the presence of other creatures via passive electrolocation, or echolocation.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@SmashTheState Those are great ideas! I like the IR to UV eye range. For the other wavelengths I’d integrate an antenna into the skin. The human body makes a dandy HF antenna now.
We would need some filtering mechanism so our brains are not overloaded by all the electromagnetic noise that surrounds us.

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