Rise of Homo Superior, The

Farewell Hu
Image from Bernd Helfert

Despite the popularity of eugenist and selective-breeding ideologies that culminated in short-sighted memeticities such as the Aryan Morningstar League and the early 22nd century c.e. Lunar Eugenist Institute, it was actually the transhumanist and libertarian biohackers that gave rise to Homo superior. But this was only because of the enormous biotech revolution taking place at that time.

The Early Days

The first decades of the 21st century c.e. saw developments in genomics equal to the computer and information revolution of the last decades of the 20th century. The original application, in the 2010s c.e. , was in identifying and removing those genes responsible for congenital disease. But beginning in the years 2015-2020 c.e. developments in genomics and genetic engineering allowed parents to actively select specific genes for their unborn children, in the hope of improving their physical attractiveness, athletic, intellectual, and/or creative abilities, longevity, and resistance to diseases, stirring up a hornet's nest of moral and legal issues. While most genes were considered "public domain", and only a fee for the the splicing was charged, already genomic megacorporations like Celeron began selling the rights to specialty genes.

By the 2030s c.e. genetic modification of humans were becoming increasingly accepted, although there was a vocal minority opposed to such acts of "playing God". Germline modifications continued, although their legality has been uncertain. A generation of superbabies were growing up into child entrepreneurs are forcing big changes to business and employment law and practices, as well as rules relating to legal maturity and asset ownership.

By the 2040s c.e. a vast "genomic gap" had developed between the haves and the havenots - greater even than the digital divide of the early 21st century, and equivalent to the class distinctions of the early Industrial Age. Those fortunate wealthy individuals, or those from wealthy families, had the benefit of germline modification, and tended to be consistently more intelligent, more athletic, more healthy, and more physically attractive. Yet at the same time true genius and creativity remained elusive, being the result of combinations of genetic and environmental factors that were difficult to quantify.

The Biopunks

The development of do-it-yourself genomic engineering in the 2050s and 2060s c.e. gave rise to the biopunks, a generation of mostly young, white superbaby males under 25, whose dress ranged from baggies and T-shirts through goth black and multiple piercings to conventional suits, and whose lifestyles varied accordingly, but all of whom were distinguished by self-inflicted gene hacks, feathers or scales instead of hair, bands of chromatophores, mobile tattoos, and general somatic enhancement. Abhorring business patenting and secrecy, they were pathological braggarts, with a culture based on open source ("genomes want to be free") and pirate geneprints were placed on servers in datahavens from the North Sea ex oil rig microstates to the pirate havens of states like Azerbaijan and Mogadishu.

The biopunk movement accelerated the cultural acceptance of germline engineering, which was developing in more and other ways than merely cosmetic, athletic, intellectual, or for clone farming. Various groups and states were also modifying newborns for various experimental extremes such as lifespans much longer than was generally attempted in mainstream efforts , weightlessness (for prolonged deep space habitation), and there were even for some years private and military programs that attempted to increase extrasensory perception and 'hard-wired' versions of mind-over-body techniques only accessible through years of discipline and learning in pre-scientific cultures - e.g. Tibetan monks, etc.).

The 'Tweaks'

The members of the post-biopunk generation were less interested in biofashion and simple experimentation, and more interested in furthering their own - and by implication, human - evolution. They began referring to themselves as Homo superior, although they did not represent a single genomic pattern, nor were they so different from baseline humans to make fertile offspring through interbreeding impossible (the conventional definition of the biological species). More commonly, they were called the Tweaks, an early biopunk term, for their enthusiasm of "tweaking" their genome and achieving the optimal geneprint. While some tweaks became wealthy through working for, and eventually running, megacorporations, and aggressively protected their patented geneprints, others, like the biopunks before them, were strongly anti-business and anti-patent, adopting the biopunk slogan "genomes want to be free" and exchanging DNA source-codes and phenotypic simulations, often via DNI.

The development of the orbital colonies in the 22nd century c.e. excited great interest among some superiors, especially the SMI²LEs (named after an equation by the late Industrial Age pharmocratic prophet Timothy Leary - Space Migration Intelligence squared Life Extension) who saw it as the new frontier and breaking free of the larval terrestrial existence. Other superiors saw the space frontier as a false hope, and worked instead to undermine government, religious, and mercantile interests and make the Earth into bio-technical utopia.

By the later 22nd century c.e. the orbital tweaks had already claded from the Terran tweaks. Second and third generation orbital superiors like Jean Beloit Sampson, Mariko Sakawa, Roland Kozyrev, and Michelle Chan established the status of the orbital Homo sapiens superior as formidable corporate raiders who worked in conjunction with in-house expert systems and AIs to build huge corporate empires.

The Geneteks

The rise in power of the Orbital states during the 22nd and 23rd century c.e. was also the rise in power of the orbital superiors, who began acquiring more and more power and influence. At the same time resentment began building among the Terran, Lunar, and Martian superiors. The huge Terran tweak-run corporation GeneTEK aligned itself with some of the small independent and disaffected orbitals and lunar states in order to establish a presence in space not dependent on the Orbital Alliance and their near-monopoly on interplanetary travel.

Even before the spread of the pirate "Gloriously Bright" germline cell patch, GeneTEK had already acquired a favourable reputation among genehacks and neobiopunks for its distribution of open source genomes. By the late 23rd century c.e. GeneTEK, the Orbital Alliance, the Terran and Lunar States, Mars, the Belt colonies, and the mining megacorporations were competing in the development of the outer solar system. Not only was there a rivalry of interests, but also of clades, as different subspecies competed. While the Terran and Terran-aligned orbitals employed neumanns and microgravity-adapted space people (Homo sapiens cosmoi), and the Orbital League used their own tweaks (Homo sapiens superior) in large SIOS vessels, the Lunarians and Martians used unmodified colonists in Luna-standard and Mars-standard gravity medium-sized vessels, the GeneTEK faction had geneered their own deep-space subspecies, the Homo sapiens geneticus.

For all the expense, the GeneTEK gamble payed off, although this was perhaps more due to bad luck on the part of their rivals than to superiority over the Orbitals. The microgravity-adapted space people, resentful of on-going prejudice and baseline hysteria, seceded from Earth and established their own colonies beyond Pluto, becoming the first of the true haloist clades. The Lunarians and Martians established a few colonies, but for the most part their efforts failed less due to psychological effects of prolonged isolation and more because their ships were not large enough to contain viable biospheres. The Orbital League became embroiled in a trade war with the Luna states, and with resources more limited were unable to maintain the necessary industrial output for the manufacture of the giant SIOS vessels. By the time they had subverted the big Lunar Cities and formed the Cis-Lunar League, the GeneTEK effort had already become a distinct political entity, the Gengineer Republic, essentially a GeneTEK-run corporate state, and working on Machiavellian efforts to take control of the Jovian League.

The 24th century c.e. saw increasing cladisation and hence increasing ideological differences, especially between the "big three" - the Orbital dominated Cis-Lunar League, the Mars Federation, and the Gengineer Republic dominated Jovian League. But by the end of the century the term "tweak" had become for some a rather impolite term (although not as bad as "gooks", "googels" or "freaks") that non-superiors use to refer to those humanoids who have been genetically engineered to superhuman status. Some su clades insisted on using the Linnean term Homo superior, despite the fact this name was declared nomen vanum for completely valid reasons by The Interplanetary Society of Zoological Nomenclature.

Apart from matters of zoological convention, there is another reason why Homo superior is not a valid term. Quite simply, by this time there was not one single species of superior, but dozens. Each su and tweak colony and guild and association had its own opinion as to what was the optimal course that human evolution should take. Moreover, different outpost and biospheres had different environmental conditions which required different biological and genetic modification.

 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 17 December 2000.