Human Engineering

May 19, 1971

Report Outline
Biologic Manipulation of Human Life
Research into Management of the Mind
Future Controls and Visions of Nirvana

Biologic Manipulation of Human Life

Man's Rising Ability to Intervene in His Makeup

Most visions of the future emphasize the tremendous changes to be wrought by advancing technology on the physical and social environment of the human species. Much speculation has centered on how man as we know him today will adjust to that push-button era of the future. Often overlooked, except in the fantasies of fiction writers, is the likelihood that science-based technology will be capable of changing not only the environment of man, but man himself.

The human animal has never been reluctant to doctor himself with a variety of potions and unguents to improve on nature and he has been clever about modifying his immediate environment to meet his needs and desires. But the extraordinary breakthroughs of recent years in the biologic sciences point to a totally new dimension of the power of human self-manipulation. They promise a capability of scientific intervention in the life of man that extends beyond cradle-to-grave. For the intervention can begin before the potential human being has even developed into an egg mature enough for fertilization. As for the grave, today's promise of future human-modification would prolong life by some 40 years—and those extra years, happily, in the very prime of life. Even “the ultimate in biologic engineering [the addition or exchange of genetic material in a potential fetus] …is not as far-fetched as it seemed a scant decade ago,” according to a new massive survey of the biologic sciences prepared by panels of some 175 leading scientists for the National Academy of Sciences.

In the years between birth and death, new possibilities are continually emerging for remodeling the individual physically and psychologically. Scientists are cautious and many warn not to exaggerate the potential application of current discoveries. The brave new world, for good or ill, will not arrive after breakfast. But it is impossible not to sense the undercurrent of excitement as new findings are reported, each adding another small piece of knowledge of the biological mechanisms that make man what he is today.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Sep. 15, 2017  Medical Breakthroughs
Jun. 19, 2015  Manipulating the Human Genome
May 31, 2013  Patenting Human Genes
Jan. 21, 2011  Genes and Health
May 15, 2009  Reproductive Ethics
Oct. 22, 2004  Cloning Debate
May 18, 2001  Designer Humans
May 12, 2000  Human Genome Research
Dec. 17, 1999  Embryo Research
May 28, 1999  DNA Databases
Apr. 03, 1998  Biology and Behavior
May 09, 1997  The Cloning Controversy
Dec. 08, 1995  Gene Therapy's Future
Apr. 08, 1994  Reproductive Ethics
Oct. 18, 1991  Gene Therapy
Aug. 16, 1991  Fetal Tissue Research
Jun. 30, 1989  Solving Crimes with Genetic Fingerprinting
Apr. 03, 1987  Biotechnology Developments
Jan. 10, 1986  Genetic Breakthroughs
Dec. 26, 1980  Genetic Business
Mar. 25, 1977  Genetic Research
May 19, 1971  Human Engineering
Aug. 20, 1969  Human Intelligence
Dec. 13, 1967  Genetics and the Life Process
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Biology and Life Sciences
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