Inspired by “Transfigurations,” an Star Trek: The Next Generation episode written by René Echevarria that deals with controversial humanoid evolution. Specifically, one man from a species who mutates to be completely self healing, as well as able to heal others. His species wants to hunt him down and eliminate him rather than open up to new evolutionary possibilities. But at the end of the episode, he turns into a being of pure light.
The cancer cell has certain desirable immortal characteristics:
“Cancers become immortal by reversing the normal telomere shortening process and instead lengthen their telomeres.”(1)
Ironically, many cancer therapies target eliminating the same telomerase-building response that transhumanism lauds.
It’s possible these renegade cells just don’t want to die, and are making different choices with different processes, because the ultimate goal of life is to live/propagate and grow.
Choices and desire are indeed factors that drive evolution. There are certainly enough humans, in addition to their cells, who would rather not die.
The first known documented case of this immortality was in 1951, of cells now called “HeLa cells,” taken without permission for research, from patient Henrietta Lacks (the family’s sued numerous pharma companies). And these HeLa cells can infinitely divide with proper living conditions.(2)
Apparently Henrietta’s cells have been used so extensively in research and disease treatment that the new characteristics have had plenty of time and ways to propagate, not to mention what’s going on in the quantum biological realm.
Henrietta is comparable to the main character in Transfigurations, surrounded by primitive society who would rather her perish than thrive, and the revolutionary implications of her cells not given their due until perhaps now.
Evolution is a process of course. And although it’s happening faster alongside technology, incorporating immortal cells is clearly buggy, as cancer is an issue from “DNA copying mistakes.”(3)
It could be argued that particularly at this point in humanity’s history, optional immortality would be an evolutionary advantage that allows for more continuity of learning and progress, and Space Travel.
Life is also easier now — that’s another big reason to keep on living, to enjoy doing so. I think the infinite era is the inevitable reward for a long evolutionary climb.
To reap reward now, the biological innovation is to harness the mutation. More on that to come.