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Vol 19, No. 12, December 2015   |   Issue PDF view/purchase
COLUMNS
What to expect in Year 2050

There shall be no surprise to some of the events that we will be witnessing in the next 35 years. Some islands will be completely submerged, some languages and species of animals will be extinct. Changes to our intentional or unintentional habits that are disruptive to the environment are not occurring fast enough to counteract the rapidly deterioration of our ecosystem. The Earth had a balance; a biogeochemical cycle in which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth. Carbon, is important, after all, everything is made of carbon. However, it was the desire for improvements during the industrial revolution that this net balance has been upset. It may have been the ignorance of mankind or perhaps everyone was simply too busy to earn a shilling or two to pay for their fish and chips on a Friday, and to remove resources from nature without a second thought of the consequences.

Rather to continue to remain overly optimistic and rely on the introductory of new technologies to repair or to retard the devastations made on the environment and climate, it is perhaps more practical to ‘save’ a day through our daily habits; e.g. reduce the use of non-recyclable materials and reuse glass bottles.

Darwinian Theory. Old, but still True

The only aspect that shall remain unchanged is, the presence of competition.

Competition will always remain in the system, and in almost all living systems. It is a fundamental building block for progress, improvements, breakthroughs and innovative work. There is little doubt that we are going to achieve more, and in hope for a lighter impact on the environment, on employment, and on the climate.

Commercial jets will soon be topping up their tanks with biofuels, and it is most certain that there will be an environmental-friendly alternative to the current fuels for transport and logistics. It has been humans’ imagination to fly like a bird, and it is expected that with current technology and materials available, it is possible there is already a car that is ready to take-off and ascend to great heights. If that were to occur it may very well be an overtime for our air-traffic police, but any sensible affluent individual would prefer to hire a pilot and place a purchase of a private jet.

However, if flying cars were to be replacing cars on the roads and were to be made economic- and environmental-friendly, it shall be a universal change in traffic control. The situation may be similar to Högertrafikomläggningen – the day when Swedes change from driving on the left-hand side to the right-side of the road.

You may now customize your pet, and it is only year 2015

There will also be a different focus, a change in the perspectives of our lives, and an emphasis on universal value. Fecundity and fertility are declining, and it is least likely to increase in the next two decades. The changes in family-size and population structure will be one of the major challenges for many greying nations.

Pets are part of the family too, and scientists are now able to manipulate a genetic ‘switch’ to limit the growth of your pet. If you like small animals and most certainly not part of the advertorial coverage, scientists in China have recently developed and designed micropigs. Due to the genetic manipulation of the growth hormone (a hormone essential for growth), micropigs remain small in size, and it is tagged at USD1,600.1 Playing God is no longer a eureka moment among geneticists, as there are already laboratory animals such as the naked mice that are genetically cloned and engineered to provide better insights into rare genetic disorders.

Year 2050 may not be possible to grant human rights or ethics to choose the physical features of your offspring. It may, however, be possible that humans will be ticking off a checklist on their devices for a customized partner.

Though genetic engineering serves as an option for childbearing, it is good to be reminded that it is still a choice between two individuals on whether or not to have a child.

Print a 3D heart, plan the surgical procedures, and operate in the theatre

Since 2004, the techniques and protocols for cardiac regeneration were already published in scientific journals. The main motivation to regenerate heart cells after a cardiac infarction is to eliminate the risk of graft rejection, a common adverse response after a heart transplant. The recent advancement in printing has fast-forwarded personalized treatments for cardiac patients.

3D printing is almost a dream come true for tissue engineers to combat the ever increasing demand and already a crisis to providing organ replacements. It is the most possible alternative for organ-failure patients, and some surgeons have already suggested that the technology is cost-effective and time-saving, hence the possibilities of a better prognosis for transplant patients. A five-year old girl has already benefitted from 3D-printing technology.2 Speculations have already been made that a 3D-printed renal transplant may be possible in year 2020.

Sign-off message

Get ready for Christmas, if you are gifting a pet to your fellow friends and family members, be it engineered or not, please be kind and be certain that the person receiving it is willing to take responsibility of his or her new pet.

Written by: Yuhui Lin

Reference:

  1. Micropigs https://www.nature.com/news/gene-edited-micropigs-to-be-sold-as-pets-at-chinese-institute-1.18448

  2. Surgeon Uses 3D Printed Heart To Improve Surgery https://news.sky.com/story/1563135/surgeon-uses-3d-printed-heart-to-improve-surgery

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