According to the American military, 23 Afghan civilians were killed in February by a group of people sitting at a console in Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. How could that happen? Because these people were operating the Predator drones that have caused such controversy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Look out,world… this is the way warfare is going to be conducted in the future as increasingly advanced technology allows more sophisticated interfaces to be developed. The logic is powerful. Why should you risk the lives of your own people when you can accomplish the same ends by technology? It’s the same logic that leads to the use of robots when possible in examining and disarming suspected terrorist bombs.
But, sensible as the logic may be, we’re going to enter a world where the lives and deaths of civilians will ultimately be decided by the cost/benefit trade-offs of programmers working away in the abstract world of mathematics, completely divorced from the reality of the ground.
In my book, Requiem of the Human Soul, there’s a scene that portrays the face of 22nd century warfare. The troops fighting the terrorists are called GE troopers, (standing for GALT Enforcement – a 22nd century global treaty to limit human aggression by genetic means). They’re fighting the Rejectionists, people who reject this global treaty on religious grounds. And, plus ca change, the fighting is still going in the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, this time in a little community called Pannakot, in the Chitral Valley. But the GE troopers aren’t really there – they use virtual reality units (or VRUs) which they’re operating from the comfort of Nashville, Tennessee.
And it’s a lot more comfortable when you’re fighting from your home town. As one of the troopers tells the book’s hero, Eusebio:
Sure, pal, that’s where the whole 4-21 regiment is located. We have a giant virtual reality center outside Nashville. We’re all there right now, in our skins, hunting down Rejos in the Chitral Valley. It sure beats doing it in person. At the end of the day, we go have a drink with the guys, enjoy our kids at home. I’ve got a six-year old. I wouldn’t miss him growing up for anything.
Eusebio, is there with the GE troopers in the Chitral Valley virtually, wearing a VRU himself. He’s on a mission to see what is really going on in the sanitized world of genetically enhanced humans. And what he sees disgusts him. It’s the face of warfare in the 22nd century.
Many readers of my novel, Requiem of the Human Soul, tell me that the 22nd century scenario it paints of genetically optimized humans controlling our world is disturbing precisely because it seems so realistic. I wasn’t trying to create a dystopia in the novel – a gloomy future scenario of our world – but rather a realistic portrayal of where our global society will end up if we continue on the our current trends.
I see three stages of evolution towards the full blown genetically optimized d-humans in the late 22nd century. In the book, they’re referred to as d1, d2 and d3, as follows:
D1 humans could be with us as soon as 2030, only a couple of decades from now. They’re simply babies that have been screened for genetic diseases, and who have had their genes optimized for good health when a troubling gene is discovered in the very early stages of fetal development.
D2 humans begin to emerge a couple of generations from now. They represent the commercialization of genetic enhancement, when genes are optimized not just for health, but also for intelligence, beauty and physical prowess. In the novel, the first designer babies are produced in offshore havens, where the stricter rules against designer babies that exist in most countries can be circumvented. Then, as they get increasingly popular, domestic rules are relaxed and it becomes the norm for well-to-do middle-class parents to design their babies in advance.
Finally, d3 humans come on the scene around the beginning of the 22nd century. In addition to all the d2 designer-baby enhancements, they’re also neurologically optimized for enhanced character and better personalities. Only, d3 humans come with strings attached. In the early 22nd century, the world is just recovering from the Great Global Wars, the worst devastation in human history, that arose from the ravages of climate change. Everyone agrees “never again,” and this time they can actually do something about. So a UN law is passed that d3 humans must have their gene-sets for aggression and doctrinal beliefs subordinated in the gene expression hierarchy – thus creating a world that, theoretically at least, will never cause the destruction that we unenhanced humans – or Primals – have unceasingly brought upon ourselves.
[Click here to read an article in Harper Atlantic Magazine, dated February 2117, featuring a speech from Juan Jose Gonzalez, the newly appointed Chairman of the United Nations Governing Council, on the new way forward for global peace and prosperity.]
The graphic below shows the three stages of how humans evolve into d-humans. Click it for a larger version, or click here for a pdf version.