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Human Re-engineering – The Path Less Trodden

‘Human instinct is correct to significant extent, that is the reason human race has survived all these years. However the very fact there is widespread strife, distrust and one-upmanship proves that mankind is not living optimally and hence many significant instincts are grossly mis-aligned with self-interest’

That is the very root of this article. On one hand the human body is an incredibly amazing piece of engineering. No other machine which we use in our daily lives, can come anywhere close to this creation. Parts of the body are inert to the most powerful acids, while other parts are sensitive to a minute ruffle. The cells independently can live for only a very small duration, whereas individual humans can live beyond 100 years and the human race is already a million plus years. Some parts can be as long as a few kilometers whereas the human height is around 180 cm. Some humans can eat only bland food is small quantities – anything else will cause them indigestion; similarly for some others – a daily fare of meat in large quantities in a must. There are about 6-7 billion people of earth, and almost all of them have similar organs. Is this not marvelous engineering?

When we look at it from the other end of the spectrum, we realize that humans can carry many avoidable sub-optimal habits and instincts. Instincts which sub-consciously damage ones system and psyche. There are many instincts that we swear by, and around which we model our entire life but they are inherently harmful. More so there are an assortment of situations which our conditionings reject – as simple example being taking a bitter medicine or doing a tough exercise prescribed by our doctor – but which are inherently essential for our well-being and our survival. The more I learn to see myself as a third person – the more I realize how many such instincts [in every sphere of daily life and routine] I have/had been carrying for decades. That is probably relevant for everyone. Is this not equally surprising?
This for me is the other polar opposite in the continuum of human engineering. How come at one end, we are so intricately engineered to excellence and at the other we are inherently deliver outcomes that are in variance with self-interest. The stimuli we see as a pain and recoil, is more often an opportunity to overcome the extant boundaries that we have set for ourselves. Similarly, the situation which we many times we think is our sweet-spot, actually becomes our comfort zone – as we abuse [overuse] our familiar domains. How we react to ‘pain’ is according to me the foundation of much our actions will be aligned to our self-interest in the future? This pain almost always – subtle, nuanced, invisible. The more invisible – the more defensive is our posture. The other instinct to keep replaying our in comfort zones [what we keep doing or what we keep telling to ourselves to justify the way we live our lives] is the other side of the same coin of not pricking the touch-me-not fear.
This takes me to my conundrum. How is it that – over millions of years – have all been wired to survive well, however we are not configured pursue intrinsic happiness. Over the past 1000 years of human history there have been amazing progress in medicine, entertainment technology, information dissemination, standard of living. As a result of the incredible talent of humans – we have been able to dissect the mind and body of subject, use almost meta-physical quantum physics to create atom bombs & ICBMs and simulate the human mind to create artificial neural networks. We also believe that we understand the stars, the sun and the moon – the entire cosmos better. But it does not seem to me that levels of compassion, trust, intrinsic health and goodwill have significantly improved in the last millennium.

Building self-awareness to see the curative and regenerative effects of short term / localized pain is like a ‘gambit’ in a game of chess. Sacrificing a pawn to strengthen our position is equivalent to accepting and negotiating ‘pain’ [a few human cells – which die when we encounter pain] holistically to overcome our imaginary and self-erected boundaries of human endurance.

Seers [in each and every religion/sect] over the last few thousand years have always known that is the only fool proof method to extend limits of human happiness. It is surprising that we, despite all this knowledge, have not been able to create easy to use, plug and play models to re-wire ourselves [or growing up and learning tools] to serve the universal objective of camaraderie and happiness.

The world will be much better off if the current pace and prioritization of human research can be aligned to the objective to create and commoditize such tools. If we can divert a fraction of the trillions of dollars of global R&D to meet this end, then as a race we will be able to curb aggrandizement and strife and we will definitely survive this millennium and probably live much beyond. The organizations which will create the tools and the facilitate creating the eco-system for the tools to flourish will have their stock prices go off on a tizzy and will probably last a millennium! Anyone listening?

August 24, 2011


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