Imagining the future through a work of fiction

 

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     “Adam Libretto is on line one, Dr. Clark.”

     “Thank you, Gene.  Would you ask him to hold?  I need a few more minutes to finish with Dr. Jeffry, but don’t tell Adam that.  Just make it sound routine.  You know the drill.”

     “Of course, Dr. Clark.”

     “OK, Mike, I’m back.  Where were we?”

     “Reviewing the situation with our client Bentley Whitford.  It is not good, Jim.  The ReNewYou treatments induced some distressing unanticipated adverse events.  I’m not able to reverse them and none of us on the science team can figure out what is going on.”

     “Are you certain they were due to our treatments?”

     “Jim, all I know is what is happening now is precisely the sequence of events Adam Libretto threatened in his extortion letter.  Mr. Whitford is transforming into what for all intents and purposes is a Neanderthal.  His appearance has been distorted by massive bone deposition and increased muscle mass.”

     “God help us.”

     “We’re doing a genomic analysis to determine if Libretto introduced changes in the ReNewYou virus system.  Even if we can figure out what he did, I can’t say how long it might take to concoct corrective measures.  Libretto says he can reverse this and I suggest you meet his demands.”

     “You’re asking me to give in to extortion, Mike.  What if he decides he wants even more in the future?”

     “OK, and what if Whitford figures out we have no idea how to help him and goes public?  We have a product that reverses the aging process by editing DNA mutations that accumulate over time.  Our corporate image literally is the before-and-after photos showing persons magically restored to a more youthful appearance.  Now imagine the impact of showing what happened to Whitford when he took our miracle cure.  The wealthy will pay any price we demand to reverse their biological clocks.  That bastard Libretto can now destroy it all by posting one set of guaranteed viral photos – the photos everyone claims they do not want to see, but can’t resist.”

     “Yes, you’re right, Mike.  I can just hear the righteous cautionary tales of scientific hubris combined with vanity all linked to us.  And Whitford looking like a Frankenstein creation won’t help matters.  I’ll handle this.”

Rein1

 

     “Adam?  Jim Clark.  Good to hear from you again.”

     “Skip the games, Clark.  Are you going to respond to my request?

     “Yes, we will pay what you have demanded.  And in return you tell us what you did, how to reverse the damage you inflicted on Bentley Whitford along with a statement admitting this was intentional malfeasance on your part.”

     “The money is only part of it and this is an all-or-nothing deal.  I also want full scientific credit and to be included as a co-inventor on the ReNewYou patents.”

     “We’ll see to it your name goes on the scientific papers, but the patents are worth billions. It is not right to add your name.”

     “Excuse me, did I hear you correctly, Jim?  You are issuing rulings on right versus wrong?  My entire career with you was one big screw job from the start.  I gave the company everything I had including my best ideas.  Look, I don’t care about the money, the company took advantage of me, of the whole world, and now you are going to pay.”

     “You were well compensated for your work, Adam, as are all of our employees.”

     “Well compensated? You cheated me.  The concept of editing age-related DNA damage as a restorative treatment was mine.  There have been a lot of schemes to achieve immortality, but this one actually worked and that is a Nobel Prize level accomplishment.  You guys couldn’t birth an original idea to save your lives, but you damn sure knew what one was worth when you saw it.”

     “If that’s true why did your lawsuit fail, Adam?”

     “We both know how the legal systems works.  Remember how you put it in court, ‘a person of ordinary skill’ could do what I did?  Remember that, Jim?  Those words have returned to haunt you unless you correct the scientific record and share the profits.  By the way, did you geniuses figure out how I corrupted your system?”

     “Fine, Adam, we will meet your demands, but only after you reverse the damage to Mr. Whitford.”

     “Sure, Jim, but it will be your problem to manage him until he transforms back.  It will take a while to reverse bone deposition.”

     “Just out of curiosity, what was the full scope of changes you engineered in Whitford?”

     “Simple.  I added viruses to systematically edit his genome to conform to the consensus Neanderthal sequence.  From that point forward, unless and until those edits are reversed, he is a resurrected Neanderthal for real.  A young Neanderthal at that.  I recommend you do not get him angry.”

Bentley seq

     “So, heavier bone structure, more powerful musculature, all that?”

     “Yep, now you’ve got the picture, Jim.  I just reversed his evolutionary clock a few million years farther back in time than you promised.  OK, this 75 year-old renewed Whitford might not be able to dazzle all the young girls liked he hoped, but with his new strength he would have a solid career as a circus performer.  If there are still any circuses still around.”

***

     “Mike, Adam and I reached an understanding.  He says he’ll deliver the protocol to reverse the damage to Whitford as soon as the money is deposited in his account.”

     “Do you think Libretto can repair his sabotage, Jim?”

     “I don’t know, but if I don’t satisfy him we will definitely have to deal with the death of our company.  And something else has occurred to me.  Make sure you document everything about the Whitford case – viruses deployed, sequence data, complete clinical findings, photographs – everything.”

     “Yes, I suppose now we need to be prepared for a legal battle with Whitford.”

     “Yes, but I’m not only thinking about him, Mike.  Have you ever considered how the steps of evolution are recorded in DNA and other molecules?”

     “Sure, the molecular clock idea has been around since Pauling and Zuckerkandl.”

     “Reversing aging was thinking too small.  Whitford proves we can go a lot farther.”

     “So, you’re thinking about keeping edited DNA forever young by adding gene drive auto-correct functions or something?”

     “Michael, we are about to reach back through evolution to assemble the Army of the future.”

 

Future Army

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