The Genetics of Higher Consciousness:
Is Cognitive Engineering The Future of
BY NANDINI GOSINE-MAYRHOO
photo: nicolasberlin photocase.com
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the article below are entirely those of the author and associated organizations and are not representative of Conscious Lifestyle Magazine or its team. This piece is intended to spark a larger conversation and dialogue about the future of humanity and human consciousness as we enter the impending age of genetic engineering, which will require great responsibility to be used safely and beneficially for all life.
The Past and Future of Consciousness
The last fifty years have seen incredibly rapid advancements in science and technology. The Information Age brought vast knowledge to our fingertips and saw the invention of the Internet, considered to be one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Even with its myriad of benefits, the Internet’s potential to alienate us from each other has long been a concern.¹ Another quantum leap in technology, artificial intelligence, challenges humanity to be more than just a fleeting phase in a robotic evolution.² Humanity’s scientific transformation carries an important lesson: the most valuable evolution is that of our consciousness, without which we may lose every semblance of our humanness. Scientific breakthroughs and consciousness evolution must work in tandem. The former, devoid of consciousness, may very likely lead to our destruction. The latter, without the benefit of scientific advancement, will continue its very slow progress in achieving any widespread understanding of the Power from which we came.
Before exploring how science can impact the evolution of our consciousness, perhaps we must first attempt to define consciousness. Being conscious can be described as being aware of one’s own existence. Possessing higher or spiritual consciousness can be described as being aware of things as they truly are. This implies a deeply spiritual understanding of our existence, far beyond the everyday confines of our humanness. We humans have the power to achieve this awareness, but until this time in our history it has been only through a slow process of intense introspection, meditation and even extreme solitude.
Both Western and Eastern Philosophy have long recognized the cognitive potential of the human mind.³ While science has begun to acknowledge the mind exists outside of our physical bodies,⁴ it is yet to fully explain anything beyond the mechanical workings of the human brain. Neuroscience is beginning to catch up with Eastern Philosophy in recognizing that our cognitive faculties can be trained through meditation.⁵
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The science behind genetically engineered DNA molecules for cloning in foreign cells has been with us since the early 1970s.⁶ The commercial sale of genetically engineered food began in the mid-1990s. In the U.S., the Human Genome Project was launched in 1990 and the mapping and sequencing of the human genome was announced in 2000. Humanity has entered its Genetic Age. The standout development of this era so far is a genome editing technology called CRISPR.⁷ This technology’s impact on biological research is being compared to the steam engine, which gave rise to the Industrial Revolution and the transistor, which launched the Information Age. CRISPR has enormous potential, particularly for applications in medicine—and investors are paying attention (according to the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, public and private genetic engineering companies raised $15B globally just in the last two years). Genetic engineering application in enhancing human physical attributes such as appearance, strength and agility is possible. If genetically engineered food causes contention, the genetic engineering of humans can be an ethical minefield. Again, the evolution of human consciousness alongside scientific technological advances comes into sharp focus. That evolution is necessary, indeed mandatory, if we are to counter the base human tendencies of power and greed—tendencies which could lead to the gross misuse of advances in genetic engineering.
In its research into scientifically actualizing the potential of human consciousness, FLI envisages the use of CRISPR to enhance human cognitive functions. FLI calls this “cognitive engineering,” but with a greater emphasis on consciousness enhancement, as opposed to only enhancing cognitive brain-based skills. FLI is overseeing research programs for the formulation of genome engineering designs to achieve these aims. FLI will implement not only the scientific editing of the DNA affecting higher states of consciousness, but also comprehensive education and psychological counseling around managing those higher states of consciousness. Universities with appropriately trained teachers will tutor students, delivering education and counselling programs. This education is vital to managing higher states of consciousness and will therefore precede the actual genetic upgrades, which will be administered via reversible pill therapy (enabling short, long or permanent states of higher consciousness). It is a given that not all students entering these universities will eventually meet the stringent requirements for gene therapy.
It is intended that the research entities and universities will, with astute management, establish a gold standard of quality, and importantly, integrity for human genetic consciousness engineering.
GenI and the genetic Revolution
What does all this actually mean to someone interested in, and qualified for, cognitive engineering? As mentioned, students who prove themselves ready to attain and manage higher states of consciousness will become eligible to receive access to gene therapy resources. FLI has coined the term “GenI” (pronounced Gen-I), to describe cognitively-upgraded individuals who successfully complete the course of education and receive the gene therapy. The higher state of consciousness enjoyed by GenIs is its own reward, but there are important benefits which will extend to communities and society as a whole.
Cognitive Capital: Humanity’s New Wealth
The Genetic Age is giving rise to a new form of wealth—genetic capital. The rush to invest in genetic engineering underlines the long-term returns anticipated by investors. The myriad of applications for genetic engineering includes, but is not limited to, agriculture, energy, health and industry. The use of genetic engineering to enhance cognitive abilities gives rise to cognitive capital. Artificial intelligence poses an undeniable threat to the need for humans to perform jobs,⁸ a threat that is progressing at a speed most people are yet to grasp. As robots replace humans, the loss of affected jobs will usher in the creation of millions of high-remuneration, cognitively-demanding jobs. With globalization, these new jobs will inevitably emerge where the mental capacity of the workforce matches their demands. This phenomenon has been studied by Oxford scholar Nayef Al-Rodhan,⁹ who believes that harnessing cognitive enhancement technologies can help nations “engineer more productive, competent, focused, and skilled individuals in the workplace, thus increasing the overall output of their economies and projecting global power further afield.” Al-Rodhan outlines some inevitable social and political implications of this cognitive enhancement, not least particularly the potential implications of inequality between enhanced and non-enhanced individuals. Perhaps these ethical challenges become redundant if cognitive enhancement is used to raise not only physical and intellectual capacity, but also our consciousness, which will always seek the best outcome for the whole of humanity.
It is logical that various countries have considered the economic impacts of having a “more productive, competent, focused, and skilled” workforce. China’s emergence as a global economic power includes it being recognized as the world leader in human genetic enhancement.¹⁰ With conservative Western attitudes towards genetic engineering, China’s lead will only widen. China’s competitiveness on the world stage will increase with a potential upgrading of its population’s cognitive abilities. Loss of jobs in the West through the threat posed by artificial intelligence, would lead to vast numbers of alienated and agitated individuals, eager for radical change. Voters being drawn to ever more powerful demagogues with false promises of hope pose a real risk. The viable solution for displaced workers is education, but many will lack the mental capacity to handle the education that will make them re-employable. Cognitive enhancement provides the means for an individual to gain the focus, emotional intelligence and motivation needed for success in more mentally challenging work environments. The West must not play catch-up in the human genetic engineering chase.
To the Future
The astonishingly rapid scientific and technological breakthroughs of the past fifty years make predictions of what our world would look like in the next fifty years difficult, if not impossible. The Genetic Age brings much promise, but carries considerable risk without a dramatic upgrade in humanity’s collective consciousness. The tried and tested means to higher consciousness are slow, unable to match the pace of scientific developments. Disruptive and original thinkers in the search for higher consciousness for humanity, such as the researchers at Future Life Institute, are outlining practical—if as yet unproven—solutions. The need for radical thinking investors and philanthropists who seek a future conscious human existence, is immediate. Cognitive engineering is here. Consciousness engineering must be part of humanity’s scientific evolution.
The scientific evolution of consciousness provides the spiritual means for humans to continue their existence, not as egotistical destroyers of each other and their Earth, but as preservers and seekers of a greater future. The scientific and spiritual possibilities that await a consciously enhanced humanity exceed anything that we can currently imagine.
¹ Researchers link use of Internet, social isolation
² Is humanity just a phase in a robotic evolution?
³ Contemplative Prayer and Christian Meditation
⁴ Scientists say your “mind” isn’t confined to your brain, or even your body
⁵ Neuroscientists now believe that cognitive faculties are not fixed but can be trained through meditation
⁶ Boyer and Cohen develop recombitant DNA technology showing that genetically engineered DNA molecules may be cloned in foreign cells
⁷ Questions and answers about CRISPR
⁸ Robots will destroy our jobs—and we’re not ready for it
⁹ Brain Gain: The Emerging Security and Ethical Challenges of Cognitive Enhancement
¹⁰ The future of genetic enhancement is not in the West
About The Author
Nandini Gosine-Mayrhoo serves as Future Life Institute’s lead research analyst. Nandini honed her skills as an analyst during her management career in wholesale banking at Lloyds Banking Group in London, where she specialized in large asset and project finance risk analysis. At Lloyds, she was responsible for researching and investigating the feasibility of financing large asset transactions, including the building of ships, aircraft, power plants and roads. She also organized and directed risk management analysis for LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.
Originally from Trinidad, Nandini lived in London for over 20 years before moving with her husband to Florida. She is active in several other non-profit organizations serving women’s needs and local communities, and is currently studying for a Doctorate in Metaphysics. She is passionate about natural health, wellness, personal development and engaging in a deeper connection with the elemental world. Visit her website: futurelives.org