Redefining Time: Bioengineering’s Influence on Tomorrow

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By Martin Bouza

March 26, 2024

Life is incredibly rich, isn’t it? And when I say “life,” I’m not just referring to us humans but everything around us – the crops in the fields, the weather patterns, even our own bodies. Back in the early 2000s, I had this itch to dive into bioelectronics. The idea of blending biology and technology was mind-blowing to me. But life had other plans, and I ended up taking a different path in the tech world. Still, I’ve always had this gut feeling that bioengineering is poised to become one of the most influential sciences for humanity’s future.

In Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari talks about this shift from gods giving meaning to life to us humans taking the reins as science and technology have advanced. It’s like we’re becoming our own gods, thanks to all our new capabilities that were previously only divine. But here’s the thing: every new scientific discovery, every tech breakthrough has a human impact and perhaps even transformation. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it’s something we need to consider – and it’s true for bioengineering as well.

Bioengineering will impact our collective future as well as lead our conversations towards ethics. It won’t be (isn’t?) a matter of scientific ability anymore. Instead, it’s a matter of making the human choice of doing or not doing something. Of course, the developments that will elicit these conversations the most will be those regarding human life, whether it’s improving its quality or extension, but bioengineering transcends that and plays a role in animal life, materials, climate, environment and so many other things. Certain advancements, such as creating more nutritious crops, are widely seen as positive and don’t typically spark moral debates since they address significant challenges humanity faces.

I believe bioengineering is in a perfect storm of science and technology. It’s evolving extremely fast, especially with the advent of quantum computers on the horizon, and it’s intertwined with all life on the planet. It’s a great example of exponential growth. I mean, when I first delved into it over 20 years ago, it was just beginning, and now its advancements are reshaping reality.

But let’s get real for a moment. When we start talking about bioengineering and healthcare, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows: not everyone has equal access to them. So, it’s not merely a debate about capability or morality; it’s a fundamentally human problem of distribution. Take, for instance, Ozempic, a medication originally designed for type 2 diabetics to improve glycemic control. What happens is that Ozempic’s been almost hijacked by healthy individuals who use it for the side effect of weight loss it gives them and created a shortage of the drug for its actual, intended patients.

The gaps in society aren’t just about wealth anymore. They’re about who gets to live longer, who ages gracefully, and who gets left behind. Time has become a new form of currency, and it seems only the rich have the keys to unlock it. 

But here’s my hope for the future – that medical and bio advancements become as commonplace as washing your hands. That we find a way to spread the love – and science – and make it accessible to everyone. It’s for sure a daunting task, but it’s exactly what defines our humanity. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and start prioritizing what truly matters – us.