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file Designer Genomes

03 Jun 2016 15:43 - 03 Jun 2016 16:15 #48203 by brantley
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This has also been played up in The New York Times and elsewhere. If you haven't seen it on the cable news yet, you probably soon will:

www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-...hetic-human-genomes/

What it means is that before long, we might be creating artificial humans -- just like in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and in the future histories of Olaf Stapledon about the same time. More recently, C.J. Cherryh has dealt with the same sort of thing: her azis are clones, but they are cloned from new or edited genomes rather than ordinary humans:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azi_(clone)

It's kind of like what the Galen did to create the Supremis in the Aurora Universe, and while Harvard couldn't create actual superhumans – there's a limit to what can be done with human flesh and bone – we could create extremely "fit" humans. We could also end up with a culture of genetic aristocracy like that in the movie Gattaca:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca

--Brantley
Last edit: 03 Jun 2016 16:15 by brantley.

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03 Jun 2016 17:12 #48205 by Markiehoe
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Designer Gnomes

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03 Jun 2016 17:25 - 03 Jun 2016 17:25 #48208 by brantley
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Aaarrrggghhh!

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Last edit: 03 Jun 2016 17:25 by brantley.

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03 Jun 2016 17:38 #48209 by LustMonster
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Marching out of their stronghold in Gnome, Alaska...

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03 Jun 2016 19:05 #48210 by AuGoose
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To quote ShadowRun~

Alyn Vage, Reporter, Network 5 News - "Tell me, doctor. Why did you decide to go into gengineering research?"
Dr Terrance Clark, Genecraft Biodesigns - "To fulfill a dream mostly"
Alyn Vage - "Okay, I'll bite. What dream? A dream for a better, cleaner world? Peace on Earth? Food and care for the needy?"
Dr Terrance Clark - "Nope. Redhead, five-ten with green eyes, athletic build and legs up to here"

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03 Jun 2016 19:58 #48214 by shadar
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AuGoose wrote: To quote ShadowRun~

Alyn Vage, Reporter, Network 5 News - "Tell me, doctor. Why did you decide to go into gengineering research?"
Dr Terrance Clark, Genecraft Biodesigns - "To fulfill a dream mostly"
Alyn Vage - "Okay, I'll bite. What dream? A dream for a better, cleaner world? Peace on Earth? Food and care for the needy?"
Dr Terrance Clark - "Nope. Redhead, five-ten with green eyes, athletic build and legs up to here"


Sounds like a plan to me. Nothing beats having your priorities straight. This would be a nice start on Dr. Terrance Clark's vision:

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03 Jun 2016 20:08 #48215 by AuGoose
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((Nods vigorously)) See? Better living through Science!

While the Nazi's have thoughtfully put eugenics back about a thousand years, its hard to imagine loving, hopeful, and anxious parents saying 'No' when you tell them, "would you like for your child to be safe from heart disease? Would like for them to not need glasses?"

In the futures I imagine the human race will re-write itself not in some grand Huxley-esque governmental conspiracy to divide up the Alphas and Epsilon's... it'll happen one child at a time, a piecemeal-patchwork of shaved off dead ends and the most gentle additions working its way through to populace over generations. Because while societies like to get wrapped around the axle about the possibly morality, parents JUST WANT WHAT'S BEST FOR THEIR CHILD. It's a sales pitch that will not be denied.

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03 Jun 2016 20:43 #48216 by shadar
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AuGoose wrote: ((Nods vigorously)) See? Better living through Science!

While the Nazi's have thoughtfully put eugenics back about a thousand years, its hard to imagine loving, hopeful, and anxious parents saying 'No' when you tell them, "would you like for your child to be safe from heart disease? Would like for them to not need glasses?"

In the futures I imagine the human race will re-write itself not in some grand Huxley-esque governmental conspiracy to divide up the Alphas and Epsilon's... it'll happen one child at a time, a piecemeal-patchwork of shaved off dead ends and the most gentle additions working its way through to populace over generations. Because while societies like to get wrapped around the axle about the possibly morality, parents JUST WANT WHAT'S BEST FOR THEIR CHILD. It's a sales pitch that will not be denied.


Its amazing the number of directions that SF has already taken us regarding this topic, but most have been dystopian visions of how it can go wrong.

But what if it goes right? The idea of parents being able to edit their DNA to ensure their kids only get the good parts is a no brainer.

When I left Asia ten years ago, this was already a topic, and not just in SF forums. It started with cryo-banking of cord blood at birth (rich stem cell source to regrow organs and fix whatever breaks down the road). The better hospitals had a busy cord blood bank office right next to the maternity ward. Most middle-class parents were providing this legacy for their children even back then.

Given fewer morality constraints among the more practical Asians (you rarely find Chinese who subscribe to fundamentalist religious thinking), plus the incredibly strong desire to make their children more successful than their parents (spending every dollar on ensuring that), there is a ready market for the technology. So the practical applications will almost undoubtedly start there. Singapore and China for sure.

Innovations may come out of North America and Europe, but the rubber will meet the road in Asia, and almost certainly in our lifetimes. Or so I see it.

It'll start with fixing/removing bad genes. But it won't take long to move to inserting better genes than the parent's possess.

Based on what I saw with women selecting from a sperm bank menu (one exceptionally brilliant and physically gifted Danish man has 'fathered' thousands of babies through sperm banks), it will move to allowing extremely gifted people to license portions of their genome. Doesn't take much imagination to see where that could go.

What you can depend on is that it will start with the rich giving their kids exceptional advantages. Just like they do today, only more so. How many wealthy men have married exceptionally attractive younger women and produced exceptionally attractive children? Or just exceptional people marrying other exceptional people. Then send their kids to the finest schools on the planet. Common enough.

But there is still a lot of chance and even some randomness in the outcome. But what if they could ratchet that up another order of magnitude with surety of the outcome? It would sell. Guaranteed.

Not sure we get to Gattaca this way, and if that drove even more inequality, then that could get dicey. But such technology will have such a strong driver as AuGoose states that it will not be denied. We're talking some primal forces of parenting here.

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03 Jun 2016 21:14 #48217 by AuGoose
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To me the chief threat isn't some dark future scenario of oppression, it's stemming the tidal wave of parents wanting to blend in the current menu of most trusted/desirable traits and pruning others entirely out of the genepool. We don't need to be the next cheetahs: beautiful, powerful, superbly adapted, and with a genestock that reveals the species had a some point not too long ago been burned down to a mere 70 individuals. In the face of an aggressive disease there with be no rare survivor to build a vaccine form - the species will just die in toto. Given widespread parental-directed auto-evolution it's not hard to imagine an independently selected generation of 70,000 Brad- Pitt inheritors that are superbly adapted to advancement in the social playing field, but lack that genetic diversity that an un-tuned 70,000 kids would offer the species over the individual. Protecting the species is where societal input has some value. The individuals will largely look after themselves ;).

As to the impact of money, let's hope the tech becomes cheap so fast it goes from viable to routine in under a decade. We already breed a rat-tailed curve for intelligence. We don't need to smear the bell curve wider based on genetic sculpting with limited access. That's just begging for a "Eugenic French Revolution". (the differences in life expectancy based on wealth are already embarrassing...)

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03 Jun 2016 21:25 #48218 by Woodclaw
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shadar wrote:

AuGoose wrote: ((Nods vigorously)) See? Better living through Science!

While the Nazi's have thoughtfully put eugenics back about a thousand years, its hard to imagine loving, hopeful, and anxious parents saying 'No' when you tell them, "would you like for your child to be safe from heart disease? Would like for them to not need glasses?"

In the futures I imagine the human race will re-write itself not in some grand Huxley-esque governmental conspiracy to divide up the Alphas and Epsilon's... it'll happen one child at a time, a piecemeal-patchwork of shaved off dead ends and the most gentle additions working its way through to populace over generations. Because while societies like to get wrapped around the axle about the possibly morality, parents JUST WANT WHAT'S BEST FOR THEIR CHILD. It's a sales pitch that will not be denied.


Its amazing the number of directions that SF has already taken us regarding this topic, but most have been dystopian visions of how it can go wrong.

But what if it goes right? The idea of parents being able to edit their DNA to ensure their kids only get the good parts is a no brainer.

When I left Asia ten years ago, this was already a topic, and not just in SF forums. It started with cryo-banking of cord blood at birth (rich stem cell source to regrow organs and fix whatever breaks down the road). The better hospitals had a busy cord blood bank office right next to the maternity ward. Most middle-class parents were providing this legacy for their children even back then.

Given fewer morality constraints among the more practical Asians (you rarely find Chinese who subscribe to fundamentalist religious thinking), plus the incredibly strong desire to make their children more successful than their parents (spending every dollar on ensuring that), there is a ready market for the technology. So the practical applications will almost undoubtedly start there. Singapore and China for sure.

Innovations may come out of North America and Europe, but the rubber will meet the road in Asia, and almost certainly in our lifetimes. Or so I see it.

It'll start with fixing/removing bad genes. But it won't take long to move to inserting better genes than the parent's possess.

Based on what I saw with women selecting from a sperm bank menu (one exceptionally brilliant and physically gifted Danish man has 'fathered' thousands of babies through sperm banks), it will move to allowing extremely gifted people to license portions of their genome. Doesn't take much imagination to see where that could go.

What you can depend on is that it will start with the rich giving their kids exceptional advantages. Just like they do today, only more so. How many wealthy men have married exceptionally attractive younger women and produced exceptionally attractive children? Or just exceptional people marrying other exceptional people. Then send their kids to the finest schools on the planet. Common enough.

But there is still a lot of chance and even some randomness in the outcome. But what if they could ratchet that up another order of magnitude with surety of the outcome? It would sell. Guaranteed.

Not sure we get to Gattaca this way, and if that drove even more inequality, then that could get dicey. But such technology will have such a strong driver as AuGoose states that it will not be denied. We're talking some primal forces of parenting here.


These are not new concepts, but they all stem from that one basic question that is the basic of transhumanism: "If we can be more than human, why would we need to be human at all?"
Over time this concept of better has changed shape and form -- from eugenetics, to cybernetics, to nanomachine, to genetic manipulation -- but the baseline question remains. From a purely practical point of view the answer is easy: we won't need to be human. Even a lowly blue-collar worker would be able to do more with a simple enhancement, but here is where the problem lies. It's a very common cyberpunk scenario: how much is it possible to change of a human and still consider him human? Also, what about when you add or replace parts of you with something you don't own?
It's easier to see this with cybernetics: a worker can't afford to get his hands, or eyes or spinal cord replaced and his employer pays the surgery for him. Now the worker can do more and the employer has a more efficient worker, but he also own a piece of the worker's body. Hence, what is going to happen when the worker decide to quit? The employer might require him to return the piece, effectively creating a new from of slavery.
At this point it might seem that the sensible thing to do is not to tamper with our flesh and blood, unless it's stricly necessary, but that is bound to create a massive disparity between those who have the possibility to afford these modifications and those who can't.
Genetics can be even worst: imagine to be able to buy a retrovirus outfitted with the genetic plans for a "perfect child", one without a single blemish. Would he be really your child? Or would his entire biologu be property of the company that designed him/her?

Okay, I might have to stop remembering my Bill Gibson.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)

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03 Jun 2016 22:06 #48220 by AuGoose
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See, now I'm not a fan of transhumanism. For one thing I respect the power of tribalism: if you give birth to something the greater majority no longer recognizes as human... the greater majority will KILL IT WITH OVERWHELMING PREDJUDICE. It's not pretty, but its very, very human. Outside the bounds of the wildly speculative sci-fi - when an offspring crosses that threshold it won't be doing so armed with some transcendent leap in abilities adequate to repel the wrath of the most deadly species the world has ever known. This is one scenario where you will 'work within the system" or else...

But mostly I think the thing that will scare people the least and entice them the most is subtraction. No diabetes, no heritable obesity, no poor eyesight. No, no, no to the many ills of man. Bring up the average by shoring up the bottom of the curve. Only after that toe-hold will we see the exchange of human traits outside of family lines, mostly for cosmetic reasons at first (exotic gray eyes, blonde hair) but the siren lure of greater intellect for your children is already shaping parental decisions as noted above. We're outright terrible at breeding for intelligence, but if you could by it in a bottle and sprinkle it over your dear darling child, it's gonna sell.

But adding all new traits? Actual trans-humanism? I suspect that will stink of the worst of First World narcissism for a long, long time - especially as it will be being practiced on children who have no say in their impending life-long ostracism. Recreating yourself as an adult is one thing (and WAY past what is being threatened in this article). But society does and probably should regulate doing weird shit to kids.

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03 Jun 2016 22:20 #48222 by shadar
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The good news is that this topic has already received a lot of imaginative thought as several people have remarked.

But speculative fiction is easy and painless before the tech is available. Given the already loud discussions and increasing actions regarding inequality, this tech might be incredible disruptive.

Disruptive tech can be good, leading to progress in some areas, but the dystopian consequences are huge. And while it might trickle down or ultimately be broadly available as AuGoose hopes, I would bet that will take time during which it will drive even further inequality, perhaps for several generations.

Can any kind of reasonable and humane society exist when you combine superhuman and human? Is Gattaca reasonable? I say no.

Or will it be like Homo Sapiens wiping out Neanderthals and other proto-humans? Given what we have always practiced in terms of ethnic cleansing and racism, imagine the powerful emotions elicited from subspecies conflict?

The last time thete was a conflict between intelligent humanoid species, Homo Sapiens emerged as the sole apex species. We have no history from that time, but given our powerful gut responses to tribalism, even in its wateted-down forms of nationalism/patriotism and religion today, it probably wasn't pretty.

I think it's very cool the tech is coming, but I'm glad I'll be gone before it's more than speculation and the expensive privilege of a few. Twenty years or so. But in sixty or eighty years or so this could fundamentally transform humanity and society.

Given the likely increase in lifespan for those of you who are still young (barring an extinction-class event), you may live in this new world. Good luck.

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03 Jun 2016 22:29 #48223 by shadar
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Didn't see AuGoose's last post until I submitted my last, but it sounds like we have the same negative views of tribalism.

Unfortunately, tribalism seems to be at the core of humankind. No matter how logical we might think we are, to be human means to be tribal at some level.

It was presumably a great survival trait at one time, but could also trigger our demise in the future.

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04 Jun 2016 00:09 #48225 by paulwitz
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I read all of the thoughts in this thread. One thing that I don't believe was mentioned is what happens when everyone is genetically enhanced and therefore is average or below again. I think it will start out well, with people curing cancer, blindness, chronic illnesses, and other sicknesses, etc., but after that I believe it will be our demise after a couple of generations of "enhancements". The genetic enhancements will get out of control and I fear the worst.

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04 Jun 2016 01:25 - 04 Jun 2016 01:26 #48226 by brantley
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Here's an appreciation of Cherryh by Jo Walton that gets into her portrayal of the axis. I heartily recommend Forty Thousand in Gehenna, Cyteen and Downbelow Station.

www.tor.com/2011/09/07/qmans-more-like-t...thousand-in-gehenna/

Cherryh really thinks science fiction:



--Brantley
Last edit: 04 Jun 2016 01:26 by brantley.

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04 Jun 2016 06:50 #48227 by shadar
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brantley wrote: Here's an appreciation of Cherryh by Jo Walton that gets into her portrayal of the axis. I heartily recommend Forty Thousand in Gehenna, Cyteen and Downbelow Station.

www.tor.com/2011/09/07/qmans-more-like-t...thousand-in-gehenna/

Cherryh really thinks science fiction:



--Brantley


I'm not sure what video you intended, but what showed up was a 2 minute discussion of global warming where Cherryh basically says we can fix it all with science if its real. Fix the ocean currents... no problem. More pollution might be the answer, etc. Seems she's moved from SF to Fantasy genres.

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