When CRISPR edits become legal for small size bio-doc firms to start doing, you know that during their down time, someone got the idea to try and hack those units beyond the manufacturing warranty. We’re talking professional grade gene editing and implementation tools in the hands of people who were “smart” and “motivated” but fond of very dark humour.
These gleaming white blocks of science would become the mothers of a whole new cottage industry of custom formula solutions to life’s problems. All you would needs is the formula, and you could take that on a chip or a QR code on a sticker or an image on your phone and you scan it, pay the fees and a syringe popped out with a cure for your impotence or new hair on your head, three inches on your member or for the really adventurous, all three at once.
Who knows how they tested this stuff, computer models be damned. They had to have been testing this stuff on someone, and it took decades for the world to figure out how to ID the poor bastards who survived and their kids’ kids. So you have these people making a quick buck figuring out the building blocks of life on a budget and the means to make those changes on the fly. You have entrepreneurs turning the actual working snake-oil of the ages that can be printed on cheap white paper and handed out on tickets for fractions of a penny, but at a cost of thousands to the buyers, that is until the copyright holders started to get wise and clamp down.
In the 90s and beyond in the United States, they made it legal to copyright genes, even those of the humans. So if you sequence a bit of genetic information, write it down and say “this is the sequence that defines hair colour” and stamp it and get all the forms and so on, you own the copyright on that gene sequence. So, those sequences have been bought and categorized and organized and collated, shared and updated and maintained for generations. And a great deal of that work underpinned those lovely machines.
Now the Corporations awoke from their torpor and looked at the world and said: “This is our money.”
So the machines all get locked up while the corporations who had for some decades been run by software that just endlessly moved resources around leaving people to just live. Thus the boredom.
So the Boxes had to make money for the corporations, and so there had to be profitable things to do with them that didn’t make “some kid in his teens” rich. So they started making custom people.
It happened that fast.
One day people were beautiful and lived for decades longer and the next we were neck deep in custom built kids that were nearly specialized for their jobs and pooping. It was a cruel joke that it even happened, because now we had all these kids that could only do one thing, their bodies twisted into very specialized functions. They all died, in time, having fulfilled their one task.
The people put a stop to it, after a generation of genetic crimes, the people put an end to the production of human machines. All of them had passed away and the world mourned a whole generation of children, except The Cleaners. They lived on.
Turns out that despite the best efforts of those literally greedy Corporations, a miracle happened. The Cleaners lived! They were hardy, and strong and they could take on anything, it’s why they came to be called “The Cleaners” they were able to go into any waste, any broken, poisoned place and just clean it out. They made their homes in the former Superfund sites that made up most of the Western United States and Canada. Mostly they took up around the Yellowstone crater.
The Cleaners marched out around the world, like Superheroes from an old Comic or Ancient Statues of Greek Gods come to life, if your Gods ran to thick, short and hairy.
After the sorrows and hackers and the miracle of The Cleaners, humanity could look out to the stars, and it was only right that the Cleaners should go first, because they could survive pretty much anything. They took to Venus and Mars with equal measure, colonists and then terraformers before the end of that Century. The footprint of Earth was all over the Inner planets.
The Cleaners led the way into interstellar space, lives were measured in centuries now and people could live everywhere. Pretty soon all of humanity was “a little bit Cleaner” and you know how it is Cleaners 4 Life!