I understand this post is going to give a lot of whacko comments, but I recommend you read this at your own peril. They are barely thoughts written down after some creative day-dreaming.
7 Characteristics of Life is a good basic explanation. I am very much into the subject of “What Life is, and how it works”. It fascinates me.
So … we know Life is made up of minute cells which each hold the blueprint of the entire organism in their DNA. The first part is to figure out how nature’s programming language and how its operating system works. Nature’s engineering is fully recyclable. Animals die, they decompose, provide nutrients to trees, trees leaves get eaten, the animals that eat the leaves are eaten by other animals and the food chain continues, without food animals starve to death and give what was taken back to earth. Now that’s some serious sustainable engineering there. I hope programming DNA might be possible in my time. But then with power comes responsibility. The more intelligent the human species becomes, the more stupid things it will sometimes do out of a curiosity drive, not knowing what the results will be.
The cells then organise themselves to form organs. The cells are able to organise themselves and execute different functions on what cells neighbour them. The cells can regenerate if they get damaged. This is a hard problem to solve. None of our engineering techniques currently achieve this. Imagine buying an iPhone seed, plant it in the soil, wait for half an year and have a full iPhone. When the screen gets damaged, simply leave the iPhone in water with minerals and the screen regenerates itself. Now that is some serious engineering.
Like robots, living things interact with the environment. More intelligent species have a better map of the environment and how it kinda works in their brains than less intelligent ones. Using the nervous and the motor system they interact with the real world. The real genius of nature are that the organisms it engineers are such that they are built to survive. Some trees survive for 5000 years, human almost survive for 100 years if they take good care of their bodies. Kinda sad how most products engineered nowadays are planned for obsolence. i.e planned to breakdown just after the warranty period is over to enable more and more consumption. Very few mechanical products last even 20 years. A species which has components that built for plug and play would be awesome. Imagine one looses his arm, he can throwaway the broken one, cremate it in the soil, and get another re-generated arm, plug and play (like USB).
Outperform Nature’s Genius
Over 1000′s of years, we’ve studied nature and the universe around us like nuts, we know a lot about it now. But knowing isn’t the only game, making something better based on the knowledge is the real deal. If we fully understand how DNA code works, and how we could program it, simulate it, debug it. Then it would mean we can create machines out of nature’s building materials, we can program them for mechanical updates. May be we can even create organs which connect wirelessly to our human brains. We could probably connect all of humanity together to make Earth like a “giant living plant with a brain of its own”.
I think before the year 2100, we could achieve a close version of what could be Human 2.0 (fascinating documentary). The amazing progress of computer science, neuro science, and biology, we could be the first species to manually evolve ourselves outperforming nature’s evolution algorithm creating what we call “HomoInterconnecticus”.
As seen again and again, when something new arrives, there is first a boom, then a fall, and then things stabilize. The journey to Human 2.0, will not be smooth. Its going to be both scary and fascinating, but it well worth it.