Biotechnology’s Potential Impact on the Cycles of Civilization through Enhancement of the Human Mind


  • Kenneth Taylor Villanova University



Transhumanism, Civilization, Anthropocene, Biotechnology, Ethics, Evolution, Germline Editing


Humanity has had such a profound impact on Earth that questions arise as to both their viability and future. Modern civilization is based on dynamics that, while at first relatively innocuous, have become destructive to itself and to our living planet. What can be done to preserve life on Earth and the evolutionary promise embodied in humanity? Human nature is at the root of these dynamics and what needs to be transformed to preserve and advance our potential and life on Earth. Tactics such as reducing population and mitigating industrial harm are necessary yet not sufficient in themselves to create a sustainable future. Biotechnology is a potential key to both ending the destructive cycles of civilization, human-caused pressures now stressing planetary systems, and preserving life on Earth. Bioengineering is over 12,000 years old, accelerating today, and in need of long-range, ethical guidance via an approach with potential to address our myriad challenges and transcend our failings.


Armstrong, D., et. al. (2022). Exceeding 1.5°C global warming could trigger multiple climate tipping points. Science, vol. 377, no. 6611, DOI: 10.1126/science.abn7950.

Araki, M., Nojima, K. and Ishii, T. (2014). Caution required for handling genome editing technology. Trends in Biotechnology, 32, pp. 234-237.

Barbe, N. (1995). The evolutionary psychology of physical attractiveness: Sexual selection and human morphology, Ethology and Sociobiology, 16 (5), pp. 395-424.

Beauchamp, T and Childress, J. (1994). Principles of biomedical ethics (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Blackford, R., Bostrom, N. and Dupuy Jean-Pierre. (2011). Gregory R. Hansell and William Grassie (Eds). Transhumanism and Its critics. Philadelphia: Metanexus Institute.

Bloomberg. (January 24, 2020). Lobbying spending in 2019 reached second highest point of decade.

Bostrom, N. (2005). In defense of posthuman dignity.

Bostrom, N. (2013). Existential Risk Prevention as Global Priority. Global Policy, Volume 4. Issue 1. February 2013.

Brewer, G. and Walker, R. (2009). The impact of red tape on governmental performance: An empirical analysis. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 20 (1), pp. 233–257.

Bouchard, T.J., Lykken, D.T., McGue, M., Segal, N.L., Tellegen, A., (1990), Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart, Science, New Series, Vol. 250, No. 4978, pp. 223-228,

Carey, N. (2021). The epigenetics revolution: How modern biology Is rewriting our understanding of genetics, disease, and inheritance. New York: Columbia University Press.

Credit Suisse. (October 2020). Global wealth report 2020.

Cribb J. (2021) Earth Detox: How and Why we Must Clean Up Our Planet. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Church, G. and Regis, E. (2012). Regenesis: How synthetic biology will reinvent nature and ourselves. New York: Basic Books.

Davis, Tchiki (2022), Negative Emotions: List and 158 Examples, Berkley Well-Being Institute,, Retrieved 12/26/2026.

DeHart-Davis, L and Pandey S. (January 2005). Red tape and public employees: Does perceived rule dysfunction alienate managers? Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. 15 (1). pp. 133–148.

Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Viking.

Doudna J. and Sternberg, S. (2017). A crack in creation: Gene editing and the unthinkable power to control evolution. New York: Mariner Books.

Economic Complexity Index. Retrieved from:,cities%2C%20regions%2C%20or%20countries.andtext=Higher%20economic%20complexity%20as%20compared%20to%20country's%20income%20level%20drives%20economic%20development.

Ferrando, Francesca (2013). "Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms: Differences and Relations" (PDF). Existenz. ISSN 1932-1066. Retrieved 2014-03-14.

Freud, S. (2010). The Ego and the Id. Seattle: Pacific Publishing Studio.

Fukuyama, F. (2018). Identity: Contemporary identity politics and the struggle for recognition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Grioux.

Galtung, J. and Inayatullah, S. (1997). Macrohistory and Macrohistorians: Perspectives on Individual, Social and Civilizational Change. London: Praeger.

Geoffrey, H. (2003). Capitalism, complexity, and inequality. Journal of Economic Issues, 37 (2). pp. 471-478.

Gibbon, E. (1776-1788). The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Vols. 1-6. London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell.

Gidron, N. and Hall, P. (2017). The politics of social status: economic and cultural roots of the populist right. The British Journal of Sociology.

Golman, D. (2017). What Makes a Leader? Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Goodhart, D. (2017). The road to somewhere: The new tribes shaping British politics, New York: Penguin.

Guiso, L. et al. (October 14, 2017). The spread of populism in Western countries. VOX EU.

Hockfield, S. (2019). The age of living machines: How biology will build the next technology revolution. New York: W. W. Norton and Co.

Hodgson, G. (2003). Capitalism, complexity, and inequality. Journal of Economic Issues. 37 (2). Papers from the 2003 AFEE Meeting. pp. 471-478.

Hopkins, P. (2008). Moral vision for transhumanism. Journal of Evolution and Technology. 19 (1). pp. 3-7.

Huxley, A. (1969). Brave New World. New York; Penguin Books. Forward.

ILO Monitor. (2021). COVID-19 and the world of work. Seventh edition: Updated estimates and analysis.

Isaacson, W. (2021). The code breaker: Jennifer Doudna, gene editing, and the future of the human race. New York: Simon and Schuster

Kass, L. (2002). Life, liberty, and the defense of dignity: The challenge for bioethics. San Francisco: Encounter Books.

Liao, S. M., Sandberg, A., Roache, R. (June 2013), Human Engineering and Climate Change, Ethics Policy and Environment 15(2), DOI:10.1080/21550085.2012.685574

Lopez, B. (1986). Artic Creams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, Bantam Books, New York. p. 242.

Loye, D. (Ed.). (2004). The great adventure: Toward a fully human theory of evolution. State University of New York Press.

MacAskill, W. (2022), What We Owe The Future, Basic Books, ISBN 9781541618626.

Mommsen, T. (1854-1856). Römische Geschichte. Vols 1-3. Leipzig: Reimer and Hirsel.

Mulhall, D. (2002). Our molecular future: How nanotechnology, robotics, genetics and artificial intelligence will transform our world. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Normile, D. (2018). CRISPR bombshell: Chinese researcher claims to have created gene-edited twins. Biology Scientific Community. doi:10.1126/science.aaw1839. Retrieved from

Norris, P. and Inglehart, R. (2018). Understanding Brexit cultural resentment versus economic grievances. Faculty Research Working Paper Series. Harvard Kennedy School.

OECD. (2013). Transparency and integrity in lobbying.

Olson, M. (1982). The rise and decline of nations: Economic growth, stagflation, and social rigidities. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Ord, Toby (2019). The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity. Hachette Books. ISBN 9780316484893.

Oxfam. (2021). The inequality virus: Bringing together a world torn apart by coronavirus through a fair, just, and sustainable economy.

Pettersson, E., et. al. (2019). Genetic influences on eight psychiatric disorders based on family data of 4,408,646 full and half-siblings, and genetic data of 333,748 cases and controls. Psycho Med, 2019 May ;49(7): 1166-1173. doi: 10.1017/S0033291718002039.

Pickering, A. (2010). The cybernetic brain: Sketches of another future. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Poli, R. (2011). Steps Toward an Explicit Ontology of the Future. Journal of Futures Studies. September, 16(1): 67 – 78.

Ramos J. (2014). Anticipatory Governance: Traditions and Trajectories for Strategic Design. Journal of Futures Studies, September, 19(1): 35-52.

Robinson, M. et. al. (2017). Genetic evidence of assortative mating in humans. Nature Human Behavior, 1(0016).

Rodriguez-Fernandez, C. (2021). Eight diseases CRISPR technology could cure.

Russell, E. (2011). Evolutionary history: uniting history and biology to understand life on Earth. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sanjay, B. et. al. (2020). Red tape, organizational performance, and employee outcomes: Meta‐analysis, meta‐regression, and research agenda. Public Administration Review.

Savulescu, J. and Persson, I., (2012), Unfit for the Future: The Need for Moral Enhancement, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Scarre, C. (2018). The human past: World history and the development of human societies, (4th ed.). London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Taylor, K. (2017). "Sunset for the American Dream", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 44 Issue: 12, pp.1639-1653,

Tainter, J. (1988). The collapse of complex societies. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Tiberius, V. (2011). Towards a "Planned Path Emergence" View on Future Genesis. Journal of Futures Studies, June, 15(4): 9 – 24.

Toynbee, A. (1939). A study of history. Vols. 4–6. London: Oxford University Press.

Tracy, J. L., and Randles, D. (2011). Four models of basic emotions: A review of Ekman and Cordaro, Izard, Levenson, and Panksepp and Watt. Emotion Review, 3(4), 397–405.

Turbek, S. et. al. (2021). Rapid speciation via the evolution of pre-mating isolation in the Iberá Seedeater. Science. 371(6536). eabc0256. DOI: 10.1126/science.abc0256

UN. Peace, Dignity, and Equality on a Healthy Planet. Retrieved December 29, 2022 from:

UNESCO. UNESCO panel of experts calls for ban on “editing” of human DNA to avoid unethical tampering with hereditary traits. Retrieved Oct 24, 2021 from:

Waters, C., et al. (2016). The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene. Science, 351(6269), aad2622 PMID 26744408.

Wilson, E. (2012). The Social Conquest of Earth. New York: W.W. Norton.

Whittle, A. (2003). The Archaeology of People: Dimensions of Neolithic Life. London: Routledge.

Ygua, R. (2019). The Neolithic Revolution. Amazon Digital Services LLC - KDP Print US, ISBN, 1097431908, 9781097431908.




How to Cite

Biotechnology’s Potential Impact on the Cycles of Civilization through Enhancement of the Human Mind. (2024). Journal of Ethics and Emerging Technologies, 33(2), 1-16.

Similar Articles

1-10 of 48

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>