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Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering
December 09, 2009, 10:16:05 PM
I don't know much about this but isn't Genetic Engineering the answer to 'ANUS' problems?

In the near future this technology will be possible and it might even be necessary.

It's the easy way out to create 'Supermen' with high IQ's, good looks, physical prowess, elimination of the diseases and disorders that the modern world has brought upon itself.  Society doesn't have to actually change, genetic engineering can do it for us.  Basically synthetic eugenics.  Birth rate's will decrease b/c parents will only make one or 2 kids. 

The only downside to this is it doesn't solve the destruction of nature, society will likely consist of machines, technology, construction by that time.  People can become progressively smart enough to preserve it or space colonize, though.

Any thoughts?


Re: Genetic Engineering
December 09, 2009, 10:41:31 PM
I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but from what I understand the problems with genetic engineering lie in our extremely limited understanding of how exactly genetics even work.

It also tends to take the view of evolution as a linear scale from primitive -> awesome. It's not, it's about adaptations that allow us to survive in whatever our current environment is or is becoming. The sheer amount of factors involved in evolution are literally beyond our comprehension, and I think it's a pretty indisputable truth among people that, y'know, think, that nature knows best, and our attempts to develop ourselves through science and DNA altering are likely to lead to failure.

Natural eugenics sounds more effective to me and doesn't cost anything. In fact, it saves quite a bit of resources.

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 09, 2009, 10:47:03 PM
Yep, I'll second the notion. Scientifically-informed, natural eugenics seems to be the better idea.

Here's the issue: We haven't completely reverse-engineered DNA, so as far as I can tell, we're blindly cutting and pasting genetic code that already "works" but we aren't quite sure what it all necessarily does from the bottom-up.

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 09, 2009, 11:06:41 PM
I believe eugenics and godlike patience would be sufficient. Aren't any of the millions of extraordinary humans in the world right now effectively superhuman when compared to an old proto-human ancestor from a few million years ago?

Modernity is already overflowing with excessively hands-on applications of our ongoing understanding. The results are often um, disappointing. I would expect genetic engineering to also result in unforeseen catastrophes.

Take mechanized farming and chemical agriculture for an example. The planet is plugged full of excess people, the natural nitrogen cycle of crops is broken depriving the food of the potassium we are supposed to be getting resulting in hidden nasty side effects, the waters are contaminated with poison - more nasty hidden side effects, but oh, look at what progress is doing for us: "nobody" is starving now.

No transhumanism of any kind please. We need to take the evolutionary path set for us and only gently nudge it along the way (eugenics, competition). If it takes millenia to work the bugs out of an extraordinarily complex system, that's fine. It's better than randomly experimenting and almost assuredly meeting one catastrophe after another to no end.
”The Revolution ends by devouring its own children” – Jacques Mallet du Pan, 1793

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 09, 2009, 11:56:52 PM
After taking a course in evolutionary biology and biotechnology, I believe that directional selection is currently more effective than genetic engineering. As a previous poster has said, it is hard to say how genes influence phenotype (at least from what I have learned) in complex organisms. There are good examples of changing pigments, growing various limbs on animals so obviously there is a lot of research going into this subject and it will likely be very effective in the future.

Anyway, directional selection is just a euphemism for biological determinism/eugenics. I suggest you use it!

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 10, 2009, 12:22:22 AM
There are good examples of changing pigments, growing various limbs on animals so obviously there is a lot of research going into this subject and it will likely be very effective in the future.

Effective at what? Making funny animals (products)?

NHA

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 10, 2009, 01:19:08 AM
Check out genetic algorithms and neural networks from various AI resources. Obviously its a way stripped down version of the real thing, but its pretty cool to see how a pool of random garbage can converge on something interesting.

In as little as 300 generations you can evolve a chromosome that has encoded the right sequences of thrusts and rotations to land a probe on the moon safely. An interesting property of evolutionary computing is that you don't actually have to know how to solve a problem, just how to rate the quality of intermediate solutions.

In any case, you'll get a feel for some of the pitfalls involved in evolution. For example, excessive elitism causes the population to converge too quickly on non optimal solutions. Evolutionary dead ends are there too, after something stagnates for too long its better to just exterminate and start over.

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 10, 2009, 02:59:09 AM
Effective at what? Making funny animals (products)?
Good examples of changing gene sequences in order to produce different chemicals or synthesize proteins i.e. genetic engineering (the topic). Of course, the objective of genetic engineering isn't to grow limbs for fun. There are intermediate steps between basic research and applied research. I do admit that it was very unclear and that I made a grammar booboo. If you were educated enough in the subject of genetic engineering to ask a valid question, you wouldn't have to resort to attacks on grammar.

Anyway, from what I learned in a brief course, genetic engineering comes down to synthesis of proteins. Very simply put, you change a gene sequence in the DNA. The DNA is then transcribed into RNA, which is then translated into amino acids then a protein. The protein you create depends solely upon the sequence of nucleotides in the DNA. Of course, with animals, you have stem cells in order to create a protein macro-structure (such as an ear).

Regarding NHA: genetic drift is possible, but it does not happen when you have a large population size. I don't know what you mean by evolutionary dead end, could you please explain?

NHA

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 10, 2009, 11:47:56 PM
Regarding NHA: genetic drift is possible, but it does not happen when you have a large population size. I don't know what you mean by evolutionary dead end, could you please explain?

Sometimes you get unlucky and the population converges on a local minima right away and gets stuck there, unable to reach the global minima. The way you select and breed has a large impact on how often this happens, and sometimes mutations can get things rolling again, but regardless it still happens from time to time.


Re: Genetic Engineering
December 24, 2009, 12:59:52 AM
http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=6262083407501596844&ei=dbcyS4G5FMyclAfCz7nGDw

Here is a Google Video link to a captivating documentary about the Monsanto company and how their production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are affecting or could potentially affect the world. It has been an introduction to some of the challenges we actually face with genetic engineering and related topics.

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 24, 2009, 05:55:08 AM
That documentary shows a very terrifying and absolutely irresponsible way to use biotechnology. However, the documentary failed to make the connection that wild strains should grow better than the GM crop in a non-herbicidal environment, so that in theory, the GM crop should not take over the wild crop. With stabilizing selection, I would believe that wild strains would win out.

But the point is that Monsanto's monopoly is multinational, and this is already having a devastating effect on communities. Biodiversity is a very serious issue. With farmers switching over to GM crops, this inevitably reduces biodiversity, a necessary aspect to sustainability (see my previous threads for better explanation). With my somewhat professional opinion, modifying eukaryotes for implementation in the wild at the current stage is totally irresponsible, especially if the organisms can reproduce with these modifications. You're basically creating a species without knowing the effects it would have on the ecosystem.

Quote from: Doom
The multinational corporation steals
3rd World wealth for grain mountain ascension.
Multinationals!
The multinational corporation steals
their health for control extension.


Re: Genetic Engineering
December 26, 2009, 05:41:59 PM
I'm by no means an expert on the subject, but from what I understand the problems with genetic engineering lie in our extremely limited understanding of how exactly genetics even work.

Yes, a thousand times yes, in my view.

Our knowledge is primitive and our science politicized.

But a few smart scientists could change that :)

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 27, 2009, 06:44:55 PM
One of the things which draws me into the field of genetics is just that. Imagine you had the means to remove genetic defects of all sorts. It would probably be costly and people who would bother paying for it would probably be of high intelligence. Such people aren't always very physically fit or healthy - in goes genetic engineering, out goes the start of a new strand of human, we could even throw in some stuff such as toxins immunity, hightened senses and reflexes. That could be the basis for a superman race.

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 30, 2009, 06:13:16 PM
My answer's obvious after having read Brave New World. We're natural, as beings, so to attempt and control adaptation and other instinctive measures we have that helps ensure our survival as a species would be downright absurd. Sure there may be no criminal inhibitions or terminal illnesses, but it's those very negative aspects of our race that bind us together, for the good. They are responsible for us getting off our asses and doing something about them, so in the eyes of Sun Tzu, we should respect what can harm us, because it is the embodiment of the power that causes us to think the way we do today, albeit fatalistically for most. I'm not saying civilization (or lack thereof, in better words) should be in a constant struggle with itself, but learn from its surroundings and problems as to shed insight on a formidable solution.

NHA

Re: Genetic Engineering
December 31, 2009, 09:04:58 PM
There is little point in being human if you aren't going to bend nature to your will (objectively nature is bending itself by proxy). Your instincts are that of an ape, and your planet has you scheduled for eventual extinction if you do nothing. Do you think a "natural" (animalistic) lifestyle is part of an ecosystem where everything is in harmony with your species? There's no harmony, just alternating stages of chaos and equilibrium.

intelligence was created by nature, therefore everything created by intelligence is also from nature. Nothing humans can do can be considered unnatural. Even if humans exterminate 80% of life on the earth, nature itself has done much worse on this planet alone.

Actions should only be subjectively measured by their benefit to humanity. You don't "save the planet" out of altruism, the planet doesn't need you or your help. You preserve things because it is in your best self interest to do so.

The point is to use genetic engineering in thoughtful and productive ways, Even the simplest of tools can be made dangerous in the hands of a moron.