Interesting idea raised by Jimmy in another thread - if an advanced race fully understood their DNA they could recreate themselves as they saw fit.  Topic for discussion: What would be the ultimate modifications?

I'm imagining almost all brain, living in an almost indestructible metal shell connected to robotic limbs that could be changed out as necessary.  What do YOU think?

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If one can understand and manipulate one's DNA to change the body in different and extreme ways, then one can build creatures from scratch. So why not just build a living, symbiotic exo-suit that can mesh with and be controlled by a specific creature's nervous system? Kind of like the aliens in Independence Day.

Brilliant idea - thanks.  So sort of like my concept of being a big brain, but with another creature as an avatar rather than a mechanical suit.  I like it.

To that end, we could make suits that really couldn't function without us - being hung in a life support closet when not in use.  We could call that the minimalist.

We could then make other specialty suits for various tasks.  Mindless drones good at doing heavy lifting, but with a vacuous skull into which we could insert ourselves when more processing power became required.

We could even have a marine suit for extended underwater work.  It would be very weird, however, getting used to occupying various types of bodies. :D

Probably no more weird than being a giant brain creature living in a metal shell.

Just saying :P

I was just trying to wrap my head around having multiple interfaces.

I'm imagining almost all brain, living in an almost indestructible metal shell connected to robotic limbs that could be changed out as necessary.  What do YOU think?

That sounds like a fine idea. I'm sure it would be perfectly safe as long as we--- aggghhhh!!!!!

Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

I was thinking of something a bit higher tech - but ok.

that's where my mind went

Well, descending into psuedo-religion, "what is the purpose of our life?" We'd need to define that before we go through the trouble of designing a body.

Immediate responses seem to revolve around indestructible bodies. Self preservation is a necessary product of evolution, but need that be the case if we're doing the designing? 

If we know DNA all that well, we have probably defined the electrochemical basis of thought and memory in detail. Do we declare a personal home for what is "us" (like a bowl of chicken soup in which we can store ourselves between bodies)?

So do we live forever? Do we want to?

It's worth wondering if these are questions that will require answers in the medium-term future. 

In addition to the above, a question I would have is "who gets to live?"

I believe living indefinitely would be a goal - and it wouldn't be a problem if we had reproduction under control.  We could still allow for the pleasures of sex - but imagine if the mechanisms required each partner to consciously decide in favour of reproduction before that ever became a result.

No one alive today would get to live - we can't change your current DNA.  Our future, far superior selves would be the one's allowed to live indefinitely.

I like the chicken soup idea, :D

Our purpose would be to colonize beyond our solar system - with an eye on determining if it would ever be possible to move to another cosmos.

I believe living indefinitely would be a goal

This would seem to be a must if interstellar travel is the ultimate goal, unless you're prepared to go with a multi-generational approach, or use machine intelligence that is so human it no longer makes a significant difference. Luckily, evolution has already produced some examples we might possibly emulate, such as the turritopsis (jellyfish), the planarian flatworm, and the waterbear, which have biological immortality. Unless killed, they will quite literally go on living indefinitely.

No one alive today would get to live - we can't change your current DNA. 

Well, we can with gene therapy. Engineer a virus with the new gene, introduce the virus to the cell nucleus, and the new gene latches on. They're using this technique right now to treat pancreatitis and cure leukaemia. (Not treat it, cure it.) This is radically new technology, with the former just having been approved for use in Europe and the latter just recently achieved, and not yet approved.

with an eye on determining if it would ever be possible to move to another cosmos.

It's definitely possible. We'd have to toss ethics out the window and become as utterly ruthless as nature itself; accept huge risks, gigantic expenses, enormous losses, and that the millions who must invent, engineer, and labor to make it happen would not directly benefit (beyond the rewards of a paycheck or volunteerism). But it could be done.

"Nature is a whore." -Kurt Cobain

I'm imagining a period of biological trans-humanism where the goal is to preserve consciousness across wetware.  The first 'brain transplant' might be accomplished by regenerating your body while preserving the brain.  Being able to extend the brain sufficiently that one might end up residing more in the extended organ than the original, the eventual decay of the original might go unnoticed.

You are very right, though, in theorizing that we might have to become quite ruthless to accomplish this level of modification.  Just contemplating that, it becomes unfathomable that any entities that had accomplished such a goal would ever find us even the slightest bit interesting.

Just contemplating that, it becomes unfathomable that any entities that had accomplished such a goal would ever find us even the slightest bit interesting.

Continuing the same contemplation: the solar system is located in the Orion Spur, an offshoot the Perseus Arm, about halfway from the center of the Milky Way, a spiral galaxy with four major arms.

It's reasonable to think space-faring extraterrestrials would be most active at the center and in the arms, where the concentration of stars are highest. This is for the same reason one might expect to find more travellers at O'hare International Airport in North America than at Guam International Airport in Guam. Oceans, sky, (and space) may be travelled, but generally people are found wherever you find good land, and the more land, the more people.

Exoplanetology lets us spot habitable planets from thousands of light years away, so it's reasonable that earth could be spotted as well, for whatever purpose one might be looking. If habitable planets are valued as stepping stones, if not destinations, then let's hope ruthlessness paired with disregard for humanity does not cause earth to get stepped on, even unintentionally. (See Christopher Columbus versus the Native Americans for a terrestrial example.)

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