the still-ongoing purposive, non-evolutionary transformation of human biology: senescence elimination, eatfree metabolism, fortified immune and nervous systems, resistance to cold and heat, keener senses, better stamina; also the historic period whose focal point was this transformation. Half a century after the first experiments, Change created deep sleep and “made death optional.”  ■    Predicted and scareified well in advance, the firestorms opening flares were nevertheless seen in isolation; the umbrella term Change became established “almost post factum.” Lacking a single master plan, Change progressed by fits and starts — its abandoned projects and dead ends far outnumber the elements that constitute the current canon; some say it was by sheer luck that it didnt result in a total disintegration of the species (others quip that, in fact, it did). ■    Increasingly shielded from external selection, humans compensate by intensifying the intra-species selection — with Change often seen as its culmination: once technically capable, Homo sapiens “rushed to auto-evolve,” to panpractically fast-forward what had already been accumulating naturally (e.g. the neoteny trend). Body organs and systems were optimized, their defects cleared, major regress paths closed; some, notably the senses (eyesight, hearing, smell), received a much deeper reengineering almost from scratch. Quicker nervous wiring “slows down the time,” even allows “casual weightlessness” where an object you let go of in the air wont drop far before you return — after a useful fraction of a second elsewhere — and regrasp it; with better muscles and a lighter body, humans are finally capable of self-lifting on strap-on wings using bare muscle power (what flight meant before the motio). The lower body — universally concealed, euphemized across cultures — was “idealized” (“parts covered from view had thus been excluded from sexual selection,” we just let them catch up): the separation of public and private body remains but gone is the instinct that whatever is hidden from sight is unsightly. Infing, itself non-inheritable but building on the underlying genome redesign, is how humans sculpt themselves — not instantly nor limitlessly but “enough to never hate your own body”; the human physique becomes intentional, we “morph the body to reveal the soul”: freed of senescence frustration, family rekindles its bonds by self-evolving (aging, art of face, “endorphin addiction”). ■    “Autotrophic revolution” in cell metabolism accounts for the overall body dehydration, radically lower nutrition needs, digestive and excretive piping reduced almost to a rudiment; the human body continuously resynthesizes itself out of its own waste, organic and mineral matter inhaled with the air, and solar energy. This low-level metabolism reengineering was tainted by fears that its genes might spill into microbiota, producing “superbugs” and wreaking havoc in biology. However, the new energy chain, designed for multicellular life forms, cant work in bacteria or protists; too different from anything naturally evolved, it is a contraption that can only be copied wholesale (unlikely to happen by chance). Impatience won, experiments continued; now we know that parts of the new energy chain can theoretically work in bacteria but no examples have been observed in the wild so far. ■    Expectably, brain morphs have been the most controversial. Experimenters went to great lengths to prevent optimizing out, accidentally or not, any sun sneezing miswirings such as synesthesia; only a few peripheral, strictly additive changes were accepted at first, the overall cortex expansion remained strictly quantitative (feeding an Aristotelian argument that no brain can devise a truly better — as opposed to larger — brain). Superintelligence didnt materialize, as a Change outcome or otherwise; the predicted zoo of abnormalities, “cyborgization,” any irreversible “dehumanization of the human race” also largely failed to happen. Sexual dimorphism not only survived but, arguably, deepened; the last emancipation push showed that the urge to embody the ideal — deeply imprinted in the sexually-selecting social brain — trumps any potential advantages from dehumanization (“we dream of becoming better humans, not monsters”); the ages sparsening with its pointedly non-competitive attitudes made such advantages even less relevant. ■    Diversity grew but, contrary to predictions, didnt spill over into divergence, with few known cases of reproductive isolation in the human stock; Changes countless redesign waves were in fact few and focused compared to the steady drizzle of mutations across the entire genome that causes a population to speciate. Explosive by biological standards, Change was slow and gradual by historical measure — spread over several generations; never reliant on any spiritual or ideological commitment, it fit the traditional modus operandi of medicine and consumer technology (some key patches, including senescence reversal, were first popularized for pets). An opposite to natural evolution, Change itself proceeded by small evolutionary steps, prodding multiple paths at each junction, failing more often than succeeding; there was no single “immortality pill” or “eatfree pill” (“what a scary idea”) but layers of routine fixes — narrowly aimed, cosmetic, at times almost cosmetological — swept like wildfires, adding up to as much. ■    “If it were beneficial, natural evolution would have done that”: this popular objection to Change exemplifies the “omnipotent evolution” fallacy — only natural when, having helped to dethrone God, evolution tended to inherit his attributes. A common rejoinder (again, with parallels in religious apologetics): “evolution is doing this, now, by acting through us”; natural evolution treads in tiny steps and cant jump across gaps, but we can catapult it over if we know the destination. Still, changes not based on preexisting biology were a much harder sell even when they were safer and more efficient.  ■    Commercial interests (still powerful even when eroded by “gift economy” and compiler-armed “cottage industries”) catalyzed the explosion but hindered the universal genomic freedom that scientists and ethi fought for. A public human genome repository was as critical for Changes long-term success as affordable technology: beginning as a collection of free reimplementations of proprietary patches, it powered much of the mature Change with its ecosystem of collaborative genomics, peer review, distributed modelling and testing. ■    “Triumph of gene selection”: recipes spread like fads, so fast and wide as no reproductive success could ever match; laws being passed mandated disclosure of all human genome interventions, and little could be kept secret anyway once DNA sniffing became accessible. In fact, genetic homogenization, “averaging out” was a worse menace than divergence; customization counseling was subsidized in an attempt to prop up genetic diversity. Earths population was huge and divided, still ballooning when it all started; early developments never penetrated to the social bottom, and genetic stratification — stoked by transh movements espousing more or less explicit forms of genetic racism (“blind interbreeding is evil”) — ran wild in poor and undereducated societies. Scare saturation peaked, triggering riots and vandalism: societal diseases got more virulent in response to the accelerating mutations in their human host.  ■    It was a battle in the minds: the fear of losing yourself against the dread of being outmoded, the instinct of trumping your peer vs. a conscious attachment to fair-and-equal; conscientious objectors, many religious, were influential — only they were naturally dying out, leaving those who Changed with a lasting if vague sense of guilt. “Geeks inherited the Earth”: this “final outburst of selection” for future-mindedness may have left a deeper imprint on the species than Change itself. ■    Change ushered the third act of the puppet show — made humans aware as never before of their somatopsychological string-pulls; whether it made anyone not just healthier but better, for some meaning of the word, will probably be debated forever. Individual patches improved memory, concentration, intelligence — but the outcomes were only measured in limited test groups; with the slowness of the process (early patches, as a rule, only took full effect in the next generation), proper studies — of capabilities that were poorly defined even in quieter times — are hard to come by. Still less quantifiable are traits such as creativity or altruism; overall improvement is often claimed but its hard to say how much of it is due to genetic interventions as opposed to a slow overall climb of societal health that was detectable long before the Change. Skewing the statistics, much criminal or destructive behavior used to be linked to now-curable — and mostly eliminated — diseases.  ■    As such, Change probably ended when no universal vector was recognizable anymore — when humans ran out of the obvious ways to self-improve. Levels of changedness converge but still vary measurably in the global population; the field keeps expanding in some directions but much of the latest work is small-scale and random: polishing, fine-tuning, “the afterglow.” The focus is shifting to redesign if not outright reversal: some of the early projects we carry — now perceived inadequate, woefully systemic, simply missing the point — are being actively phased out or reimplemented. Is this the stagnation of fadeout — or a lull (“readying for a leap”) before a new storm will finally unanchor bodied minds from basic human likeness?

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