Comments of The Promise of genomics, robotics, informatics and nanotechnologies

Vignette: How it could be


Malaga (Spain), January 10, 2034.

Mixed emotions ravage my soul, if anything is left of it. I now remember almost everything, especially Laura, the most valuable piece of all that was seized from me.

I can no longer continue to evade the truth: I was solely responsible for the accident. I should never have driven in such heavy rain, knowing my own state of health. It is true that up to that point I had never suffered such a severe fainting episode. But on that day, of all days, I should have been more aware than ever of my limitations.

We were on our way to the hospital where I was to receive the Langerhan gene therapy that would finally revert my advanced state of deterioration. A new life, more time to share with her...

And then the emptiness... that inability to remember anything for more than 5 minutes, forcing all those around me constantly to introduce themselves. After the accident I also lost my sight, and they had to amputate a leg. A pacemaker, a hip replacement, hearing aids... I suppose I became a real monster for those around me. But perhaps I did have an inner consolation: my unawareness of what was happening. A living death.

But what am I now, truly? My eyes are nanocameras. My legs made of metal. My body is home to dozens of gadgets which regulate my blood flow. Even my mind is artificial. They call it a neohippocampus, and apparently it replaces a part of my brain that was damaged by the haemorrhage caused by the accident, or my illness, it doesn't matter. And what am I now? Man or machine? Or worse still, what percentage of me is human and how much is not? And my soul? Is that still human?

I suffer now. I suffer the absence of Laura, who was everything. And it may be that my new memory will not help much when I try to stop thinking about her. It would, unfortunately, seem to work very well. On the other hand, though, I must acknowledge that I have been able to meet my grandchildren.

With my new eyes and new mind, I can enjoy being with them and then remember every minute together. Maybe I am no longer a burden to others. And maybe those flashes of happiness with my family more than make up for my suffering. I can now help others by recounting my experience in this Biographical Register of Well-being, shared with the whole world. Maybe that is what it means to be human now.


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