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Maciamo
31-01-14, 23:14
In the years 2000's, we have entered a new era, that of genetic engineering for human beings and gene therapy. It is becoming increasingly easy to fix genetic diseases by simply injecting a virus into the blood stream that will, in just a few weeks, modify any part of your DNA you wish to change. This method has already been used successfully to treat conditions such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, haemophilia, thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, and Parkinson's disease.

Not only is gene therapy the only cure for genetic disorders like color blindness, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell disease, Tay-Sachs disease or Huntington's disease, it also has the great advantage of being non-invasive, relatively safe and, in most cases, free of side-effects. The method is so promising that it could be used to cure virtually any kind of diseases caused by genetic factors. It is now even possible to modify multiple genes with a single injection.

Genetic engineering also makes it possible to customize one's genome at will. People could choose to change their baby's DNA to get rid of unwanted potential diseases. As we are at it why not also remove some "fat genes" by speeding up the metabolism. Or change the baby's eye colour ? Wouldn't it be nice to increase his/her intelligence a bit while we are at it ? Then we get an "on measure" designer baby.

Leaving religious fundamentalist and ultra-conservative aside, a lot of people would still object to that on the grounds that the new generation would be "better" than they could ever be. They would envy or fear this new generation of "perfect" individuals. Surely we would lose our jobs to them. Once intelligence has been raised considerably, parents would look stupid, if not pathetic, in their kids' eyes. No, that wouldn't work out. Then what if we mistook and ended up regretting our designer babies because they looked so different from us anyway ? Once they are born, there is no going back.

But what if I were to tell you that you also had the opportunity to refine your own DNA ? Gene therapy is so revolutionary that, combined with genetic engineering, it could be used to change physical appearance or improve physical capabilities and mental faculties. It would be possible to change skin, hair or eye colour with a single injection, and even change back later, or choose other tones, almost at will. Unlike plastic surgeries, there is no reason to be afraid to not like the result. Don't like it ? Just edit your DNA and get a new injection. Unlike plastic surgery it is pain free and you can't die on the operation table.

Anybody could get rid of "fat genes" by speeding up the metabolism, become taller, more gifted, more resistant to stress or extreme temperature... Anything is possible, it seems. But is transhumanism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca_argument) a desirable thing ?

A common objection, enshrined in the 1997 movie Gattaca (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gattaca), is that society will become divided between the rich, who can afford genetic engineering, and will become superhumans, and the poor who can't afford it, and will end up being ruled by the former. At the age of ever cheaper DNA tests, this argument becomes increasingly shaky. Gene therapy already isn't prohibitively expensive. It is cheaper than most cars, and many, many times cheaper than a house. But that's today, in 2014. What will it be in five or ten years ? If the price is DNA test is any indication, gene therapy might only cost a few hundreds bucks soon enough.

There are many arguments in favour of gene therapy for the purpose of improving one's physical appearance:

1) It is safer and far more effective than plastic surgery, which a lot of people are already doing anyway.

2) Less people will be depressed or commit suicide because they don't like themselves.

3) A society made of beautiful people will be more cheerful and pleasant for everyone, and people will not be judged solely on looks anymore, but more for their personality, interests, good actions, etc.

Notwithstanding the ease of gene therapy, I doubt that the genetic engineering part will make it possible any time soon to decide what our face should look like. Altering pigmentation is easy enough. Modifying a few characters will give you fairer or darker eyes or skin. But facial morphology is quite another matter. We couldn't even accurately describe a face with words, so how are we supposed to find the DNA sequences responsible for, say, nose shape or the position of cheek bones ? Theoretically it's possible, but humanity will be free of genetic diseases and disorders long before we can master facial design through genetic engineering.


Improving one's mental faculties though gene therapy might prove more difficult for a number of reasons. First of all, it has proved quite difficult to identify genes for intelligence, because intelligence is a vague concept that can mean many different things. Is that a gift for numbers, for words, for music, for social relationships, for drawing, for understanding mechanism ? What's more, intelligence doesn't depend only on genes, but also on a variety of other factors such as fetal development during pregnancy, the home environment while being raised as a child (did the child get enough intellectual stimulation ? did the parents or caretakers talk enough to him/her ?), and so on. Then there are many kinds of intelligence, and intelligence depends a lot on the effort and dedication spent to improve one's abilities. Then, the more time one spends developing some abilities, the less is available for other abilities. People who are extremely gifted in one field often lack in other fields. The same is true of memory. Good memory requires regular practice, just like sports. And memory declines with age, or with smoking, fatty diet and many other environmental factors.

So even if we could raise a bit people's potential to learn and memorise, the world wouldn't suddenly be filled with geniuses. There would still be as much diversity as today, but with slightly more capable people in their respective fields of interest, which isn't a bad thing.


The big ethical, or even metaphysical, question of transhumanism is: would we still be ourselves after altering our genome ?

I am a scientist, an atheist, and I don't believe in life after death. Like anybody who understands biology, neurology and genetics to some degree, I consider that the soul cannot exist because life can be explained purely as a series of biochemical reactions. So what is it that makes us ourselves and not someone else ? It's essentially our DNA, and especially the genes that encode the nervous system (especially the brain), which is the true essence of our conscious being. Alter your DNA and you aren't the same person anymore. Or would we ? Would we even notice that we aren't the same person anymore ? And does it really matter ?

From another angle, we share our DNA wit our relatives. By changing our DNA, we become more genetically distant from our parents, siblings and children. If we modify too much of it, we may stop being biologically related anymore. That would be extremely weird. But that is an extreme case. Our genome is a sequence of 3 billion base pairs. Even if we inherit 50% from each parent, we always have a few hundreds/thousands unique ("de novo") mutations that differ from our parents. Curing single mutation diseases or changing a few base pairs to alter pigmentation isn't going to make any difference.

Please share your thoughts and opinions.

LeBrok
31-01-14, 23:43
It is only a matter of when, not if. Personally I can't wait.


I am a scientist, an atheist, and I don't believe in life after death. Like anybody who understands biology, neurology and genetics to some degree, I consider that the soul cannot exist because life can be explained purely as a series of biochemical reactions. So what is it that makes us ourselves and not someone else ? It's essentially our DNA, and especially the genes that encode the nervous system (especially the brain), which is the true essence of our conscious being. Alter your DNA and you aren't the same person anymore. Or would we ? Would we even notice that we aren't the same person anymore ? And does it really matter ? Technically we are never the same. Our experiences change our neural network every second and every day. At age of 24 and 84 we won't react same way to same stimuli, although we are the same person. Or are we?

Maciamo
01-02-14, 11:29
It is only a matter of when, not if. Personally I can't wait.

Technically we are never the same. Our experiences change our neural network every second and every day. At age of 24 and 84 we won't react same way to same stimuli, although we are the same person. Or are we?

I understand what you mean, but let me rephrase it this way. Our brain is like a computer. Our thoughts, feelings and experiences are the various programmes or tasks running on the computer. Our neural network is never the same, just like the data processed by a very complex computer, especially if connected to the Internet (the outside world, for us). Both computers and brains age with time. But if you change your CPU and RAM, is your PC still the same ? That's what I meant for our brain and nervous system.

Obviously if we alter too much the genes for neurotransmitters, we will also feel and behave differently, change personality, and change the way we see and experience the world. Can we still say with confidence that after all that we are still the same individual ?

LeBrok
01-02-14, 20:53
I understand what you mean, but let me rephrase it this way. Our brain is like a computer. Our thoughts, feelings and experiences are the various programmes or tasks running on the computer. Our neural network is never the same, just like the data processed by a very complex computer, especially if connected to the Internet (the outside world, for us). Both computers and brains age with time. But if you change your CPU and RAM, is your PC still the same ? That's what I meant for our brain and nervous system.

Obviously if we alter too much the genes for neurotransmitters, we will also feel and behave differently, change personality, and change the way we see and experience the world. Can we still say with confidence that after all that we are still the same individual ?

Because I'm not afraid of genetic manipulation in order to improve or cure people (as any technology we should use it for our advantage) I was making a point that our "hardware" is not as rigid as computer one. Granted that we can't change major neural pathways and brain architecture, but neural connections at neurons/cellular level are being changed and rewired constantly throughout our lives. Our brain in childhood is somewhat different than one after puberty, to emphasize different important functions we should play during our lives. In this sense, even if we consider ourselve the same person with same name, same government ID, and by our physical continuity of our body, we are surely not exactly the same person in perfect identical sense, not even close. I'm not sure if someone calculated it, but there is a big chance that after few decades of life there is no original atoms in our body. They all might have been replaced during repairs and new cellular divisions.

I think that the definition human identity should be described as physical continuity of a person. Regardless if changes are of natural aging, limbs missing in accident, installed prosthetic, transplants of other's body parts, or changes done by genetic engineering, this including our brain.
Knowing life, I know that in future will have extreme human "makeover" changes that it will take a panel of experts in many fields to determine a person identity. We already have cases of people with two different DNA in one body (usually self and mother's), the chimera phenomenon.

Once general public is used to new genetic technology, the new medicine if you will, (as we all got used to in vitro fertilization, or anticonception, two very controversial subjects decades ago), the technology will be widely accepted or even considered necessary and vital to humankind.

Alan
02-02-14, 14:43
Most sense what it makes to me is first getting rid of diseases and than trying to make the babies more intelligent as ourselves.

I don't see any problem about getting rid of diseases genetically. At the end of the day. What doctors are doing nowadays is exactly the same. So even very conservative people should see that. And if they are against getting rid of diseases genetically, why are they going to the doctor anyways?

changing the eye color I don't see much problems here too. But entirely "modifying" the look of the babies might go a bit too far. This could end in all people looking exactly the same.

Aberdeen
02-02-14, 21:58
I think scientists are often very naive about power and how political decisions are made. You folk may view genetic engineering as a potentially good thing, because you yourselves would use it to better yourselves and to better the rest of the human race. But political power is usually held by narcissistic sociopaths, the kind of people who would use genetic engineering to create mindless soldiers to fight for them. If Putin or the current dictator of North Korea were to use genetic engineering, what do you think they'd use it for? Look into the behaviour of American oligarchs like the Koch brothers and tell me what you think they'll do with this miracle of science. We are on the verge of an age of monstrosity, in my opinion.

Angela
02-02-14, 22:15
I think scientists are often very naive about power and how political decisions are made. You folk may view genetic engineering as a potentially good thing, because you yourselves would use it to better yourselves and to better the rest of the human race. But political power is usually held by narcissistic sociopaths, the kind of people who would use genetic engineering to create mindless soldiers to fight for them. If Putin or the current dictator of North Korea were to use genetic engineering, what do you think they'd use it for? Look into the behaviour of American oligarchs like the Koch brothers and tell me what you think they'll do with this miracle of science. We are on the verge of an age of monstrosity, in my opinion.

How nice...someone as cynical as I am. :smile:

LeBrok
02-02-14, 23:32
I think scientists are often very naive about power and how political decisions are made. You folk may view genetic engineering as a potentially good thing, because you yourselves would use it to better yourselves and to better the rest of the human race. But political power is usually held by narcissistic sociopaths, the kind of people who would use genetic engineering to create mindless soldiers to fight for them. If Putin or the current dictator of North Korea were to use genetic engineering, what do you think they'd use it for? Look into the behaviour of American oligarchs like the Koch brothers and tell me what you think they'll do with this miracle of science. We are on the verge of an age of monstrosity, in my opinion.
No doubt that all technology could be misused including knife and dynamite. We are not much in position to avoid misuse of any technology by dictators, unless we make a war and dethrone them. Otherwise they will use genetic engineering to create armies of obedient citizens and soldiers in the future, regardless if the West proclaims it unnatural or immoral. The point I'm making is that we will not be in position to forbid them to use any technology. How did it work with development of A bomb in N Korea case?

In free world however the decision about kids will always lie in hands of parents. It already happens with available "tools", like personal decision in selecting a partner (gene pool) to have kids with, life or death of offspring in early stage of life (abortion), quality and amount of food supplied by parents affects kids DNA expression later in life, educating or brainwashing kids will affect their intelligence and social fitness, using medicine to cure and save lives is changing our natural (biological) destiny: lifespan, gene expression, quality of life, etc.
Genetic tools will give parents deeper control in development of their kids, and won't change the reason, why.

Making a "designer" kids and future population, or at least using gene therapies to cure people, will actually save our Health Care. People will be healthy, more fit, living long lives.
Leaving things in status quo is not an option. Thanks to advances in medicine we are saving ever bigger number of people who would be unsavable and dead when living 50 years ago, not mentioning 100 or 1,000. The "weaklings" that we save will have a chance making their own "weak" kids, who we are going to cure thanks to quick progress in medicine, they will survive and make even more "weaker" next generation, etc, etc. Thanks to technology we already pretty much stopped natural selection of "pruning unfit", and child mortality is extremely low these days. In few generations there will be only few lucky ones who can live without daily help of medications or frequent hospitalization. Cost on Health services will be astronomical.
Actually we might not have a choice but to embrace genetic engineering and designer kids, to save humankind from collapsing and extinction.

Maciamo
03-02-14, 13:57
I may have been a bit too optimistic about the possibilities to modify the physical appearance or mental faculties with gene therapy on adults. DNA is like a recipe book for making proteins, which can be assembled to make a body. But once the body has grown and reached maturity, I doubt that structural parts can be changed without causing serious medical complications. If the change is too brutal (for example, trying to turn a poodle into a German shepherd) it would certainly cause the death of the person or animal whose genome has been tampered with. Minor chemical changes, like melanin production for pigmentation, wouldn't hurt the body. It would be quite another thing to change the height or shape of the body, especially if bones are involved. Likewise I have doubts about the viability of altering the nervous system. I don't think any experiment has been done on animals either to modify the morphology or major aspects of the nervous system or brain. Obviously it is too early to predict the results on humans. Genetic engineering can work well on embryos, or possibly infants, but becomes increasingly complicated and limited in possibilities as the body grows to maturity.

Maciamo
03-02-14, 14:09
I think scientists are often very naive about power and how political decisions are made. You folk may view genetic engineering as a potentially good thing, because you yourselves would use it to better yourselves and to better the rest of the human race. But political power is usually held by narcissistic sociopaths, the kind of people who would use genetic engineering to create mindless soldiers to fight for them. If Putin or the current dictator of North Korea were to use genetic engineering, what do you think they'd use it for? Look into the behaviour of American oligarchs like the Koch brothers and tell me what you think they'll do with this miracle of science. We are on the verge of an age of monstrosity, in my opinion.

Russia or North Korea could have an army of 'mindless' and obedient soldiers that it wouldn't change much the state of the world. Even dictators need a minimum support from their population (which can be controlled through social media on the borderless Internet), and can be removed/eliminated by foreign powers (UN, NATO). Then who needs an army of genetically modified soldiers (looks like someone watched too much Star Wars) when we could have an army of droids ? A country with too many soldiers wouldn't be viable economically anyway.

Aberdeen
03-02-14, 16:03
Russia or North Korea could have an army of 'mindless' and obedient soldiers that it wouldn't change much the state of the world. Even dictators need a minimum support from their population (which can be controlled through social media on the borderless Internet), and can be removed/eliminated by foreign powers (UN, NATO). Then who needs an army of genetically modified soldiers (looks like someone watched too much Star Wars) when we could have an army of droids ? A country with too many soldiers wouldn't be viable economically anyway.

Actually, I've never been a fan of Star Wars or Star Trek or any of that sort of thing. I just really distrust politicians and the rich people who own them. And a corrupt ruler wouldn't need a large army in order to control the population, just an army that will never turn on him. I doubt if droids would have the flexibility to perform the way an army of loyal troops would. But I imagine the plutocracy would see important uses for genetically modified people in areas other than the military. If they could develop a race of strong but low IQ people to work at crop farming, road clearning, low tech mining of low grade ore deposits, etc., they could have workers who wouldn't be in a position to demand more than a roof over their head and regular meals. Think about how Chinese factory workers are currently being exploited, then think about a world where economic success would never result in the workers eventually demanding better. That would produce a lop-sided economy where there would be more product than consumers to use the product. However, plutocrats probably wouldn't care, as long as they maintained control and didn't have to worry about labour unions or street riots. Think "Brave New World", rather than Star Wars.

Aberdeen
03-02-14, 16:10
You know this is full-on eugenics right? What's interesting is that most folks don't understand that eugenic movements usually come from the left side of the political spectrum.

And by the way a true scientist would not rule out life after death. Science is based on measurable observations, and we simply can't see the other side from our location. That is why an agnostic is more intellectually honest than an atheist.

No, thinking about the implications of eliminating natural selection is not full-on eugenics, IMO. Full on eugenics involves taking active steps to control who exists and who doesn't. And by that definition, helping those people to survive who wouldn't survive without a lot of medical intervention could be considered a form of eugenics, IMO.

And no, eugenic movements don't usually come from the left, unless your definitions of left and right are based on libertarian magical thinking. And speaking of magical thinking, I suppose that an intellectually honest agnostic wouldn't rule out the existence of unicorns, since we can't disprove their existence. Unless, of course, we think about logical requirements such as the burden of proof being on the person who makes a claim that something exists or could exist.

Maciamo
03-02-14, 17:18
My claim is that an agnostic is more intellectually honest than an atheist.

Then you don't understand that:

- a god couldn't be alive as a life being is a biochemical entity and is mortal
- a god couldn't have emotions or thoughts as this requires a brain with neurotransmitters and electrical impulses in it
- reality couldn't have been created by someone/something that is outside reality, as by definition it wouldn't be real
- all religions are man-made and very obviously designed by ancient people with no knowledge of science

Maciamo
03-02-14, 17:27
You know this is full-on eugenics right? What's interesting is that most folks don't understand that eugenic movements usually come from the left side of the political spectrum.

Eugenics was developed and supported by such Darwinist scientists such as Francis Galton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Galton) and Julian Huxley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Huxley), and the economist John Maynard Keynes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes), who count among the greatest minds of the 19th and 20th centuries. I don't see what such people have to do with leftist politics (socialism). They were all rather upper-class Britons.

LeBrok
03-02-14, 18:56
Actually, I've never been a fan of Star Wars or Star Trek or any of that sort of thing.
Interestingly Star Trek gets around without showing robots doing work (except one sophisticated commander Data). Also eugenics is forbidden if I'm not mistaken, and any immortality technology. It is more about peaceful coexistence of all human races, and intelligent species of the world than about anything else. In this regard I was a fun of later seasons of Next Generation, if you fancy giving it a try.



I just really distrust politicians and the rich people who own them. And a corrupt ruler wouldn't need a large army in order to control the population, just an army that will never turn on him. I doubt if droids would have the flexibility to perform the way an army of loyal troops would. But I imagine the plutocracy would see important uses for genetically modified people in areas other than the military. If they could develop a race of strong but low IQ people to work at crop farming, road clearing, low tech mining of low grade ore deposits, etc., they could have workers who wouldn't be in a position to demand more than a roof over their head and regular meals.
Too late for this. In 30-50 years will have ubiquitous robots doing this low paying mindless repetitive jobs. Why would someone want to create subhumans if robots can do their job faster, better and 24 hours a day? No strikes, complaints or any demands either.

You want someone to carry big loads for people?
Meet the big dog.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE3fmFTtP9g&list=UU7vVhkEfw4nOGp8TyDk7RcQ#t=1

I said 50 years? Make it 10. The cyborgs are already marching.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFrjrgBV8K0&list=UU7vVhkEfw4nOGp8TyDk7RcQ#t=1

Angela
03-02-14, 20:02
I started a fire storm over on 23andme once because I said that the intractable problem of an un or under employed underclass stemmed from the fact that the jobs available in our society are beyond the intellectual capacity of a certain percentage of the citizenry, and that the problem would only get worse. Eventually, I was shouted down. Everyone assumes when you say something like this that you're talking about doing harm to people or limiting reproduction to certain people, and I would never advocate anything like that. I find those kinds of proposals morally repugnant. What I tried to get across was that I was talking about the fact that perhaps in the future we could fix intellectual deficits the way that we will someday perhaps be able to fix physical deficits. To no avail, so I gave up. Although, it has to be said, in a capitalist system, the rich would have proportionally more access to these procedures than the poor, so something would have to be done to redress that imbalance.

LeBrok
03-02-14, 20:18
the rich would have proportionally more access to these procedures than the poor, so something would have to be done to redress that imbalance.In initial stage yes, but after couple of decades this technology, like any other, will get cheap or even covered by health insurance.
Only rich could afford the first cars at first, then Ford model T happened, affordable for middle class. What is the deal to have a car now, or two? Not mentioning that even cheap modern car is so much better, stronger, faster, warmer, safer, reliable and filled with favourite music. Much more than best car a millionaires could put his hands on in 50s.

kamani
03-02-14, 21:35
I started a fire storm over on 23andme once because I said that the intractable problem of an un or under employed underclass stemmed from the fact that the jobs available in our society are beyond the intellectual capacity of a certain percentage of the citizenry, and that the problem would only get worse.
that's quite interesting, I've also had the suspect that something along those lines is true. But genetical modification to smarten people up might not be the answer to equalize things, because then jobs would also get more intellectually challenging. Intelligence equality is a myth, there is always going to be a majority out there that just doesn't have the mind skills of that top 3-4%, that's why religion and bs politics will always work; the vast majority are in a perpetual state of imbecility.

ebAmerican
03-02-14, 21:47
I would support genetic engineering only if therapy was distinct from enhancements. I would not support genetic enhancement engineering. I also would not support germ line modification. I think it is very dangerous to screw around with natural selection. I believe we need to focus on supportive gene therapy for current conditions. You could blog on for days over the ethical ramifications of genetic enhancement engineering. The biggest ramification would be social inequality. I know that social inequality already exists, but can you imagine the degree of social inequality that would occur if genetic enhancement therapy was allowed? The genome is so complex, and so many genes effect other genes in many ways that I don't see how a geneticist could be 100% sure that germ line modification wouldn't lead to "The Fly" type scenario later in life. We might be able to cure down syndrome during the zygote stage, but at what cost? There are always side effects. From the little I know about genetics I do know that most genetic mutations do not have a long term positive effect, but a short term solution to a immediate problem. I look at the genetic adaptation of African's to Malaria and the protection mechanism of sickle cell. As long as Malaria is an issue sickle cell is a better alternative to having Malaria, but what happens when Malaria is no longer an issue? Sickle cell doesn't look to be so attractive, and it becomes a negative. Genetic engineering has a massive potential of exploding in our faces. Are you willing to put humanity on the line so somebody can be 20% smarter, 1in taller, or 25lbs thinner? You might be able to change genetic conditions, but what about environmental that contribute indirectly to our genetics? This is like a domino bridge. You knock one over and the rest follow.

ebAmerican
03-02-14, 22:13
I want to make it clear that only germ line modification would allow the modifications to be past down to the next generation. Transgenesis can only occur in the pronucleus of a reproductive cell (stem cells). I would only support fully developed human genetic therapy that could not be passed to offspring.

Aberdeen
04-02-14, 05:13
I want to make it clear that only germ line modification would allow the modifications to be past down to the next generation. Transgenesis can only occur in the pronucleus of a reproductive cell (stem cells). I would only support fully developed human genetic therapy that could not be passed to offspring.

Monsanto may have other plans. And they will have no doubt patented the technique.

Maciamo
05-02-14, 13:32
that's quite interesting, I've also had the suspect that something along those lines is true. But genetical modification to smarten people up might not be the answer to equalize things, because then jobs would also get more intellectually challenging. Intelligence equality is a myth, there is always going to be a majority out there that just doesn't have the mind skills of that top 3-4%, that's why religion and bs politics will always work; the vast majority are in a perpetual state of imbecility.

I have explained above that intelligence depends on many other factors than DNA. Genetics only provide at best a potential, which has to be fulfilled through education and experience. Besides augmenting mental abilities for some kind of intelligence might lower other types of intelligence. It's hard to be artistic while being logical and analytical at the same time. More than DNA, it is the personality and behaviour that will determine what intelligence type is promoted in a person's life. Someone who spends a lot of time socialising and making public speeches will have less time to spend for reading, or playing sport, or playing music, and so on. One can't be good at everything because there is not enough time to learn everything.

Even in the impossible hypothetical situation in which all human beings had equal intelligence, the strength of character, testosterone levels and risk taking would still determine who rules who.

kamani
05-02-14, 15:41
I have explained above that intelligence depends on many other factors than DNA. Genetics only provide at best a potential, which has to be fulfilled through education and experience. Besides augmenting mental abilities for some kind of intelligence might lower other types of intelligence. It's hard to be artistic while being logical and analytical at the same time. More than DNA, it is the personality and behaviour that will determine what intelligence type is promoted in a person's life. Someone who spends a lot of time socialising and making public speeches will have less time to spend for reading, or playing sport, or playing music, and so on. One can't be good at everything because there is not enough time to learn everything.

Even in the impossible hypothetical situation in which all human beings had equal intelligence, the strength of character, testosterone levels and risk taking would still determine who rules who.

right, skill depends largely on effort but in certain cases the potential difference is so great that effort won't be enough to equalize. Lets compare two marathon runners, a European and a Kenyan; the Kenyan will always win for the same amount of practice. How do we know there is not people out there whose mental capacity is just above everyone else, just like the Kenyan in marathon running. They have to be out there, scientifically it makes sense. And if they're so smart, they are smart enough to hide from the angry jealous mobs that are eventually going to form against them.

Just a speculation:
what would be the first reaction of a genetically modified super-intelligent human. First he would play dumb to make believe the scientists that the experiment did not work, so that he can get out of the lab and stop future probing into his brain. Next, he would try to get as rich as he can, in order to make his life easier. And then he would surround himself with all the hedonistic pleasures associated with wealth and at the same time try to find the formula for immortality so he can prolong his state of success. All this done low-key so that people don't really find out about him.

Maciamo
05-02-14, 16:07
right, skill depends largely on effort but in certain cases the potential difference is so great that effort won't be enough to equalize. Lets compare two marathon runners, a European and a Kenyan; the Kenyan will always win for the same amount of practice. How do we know there is not people out there whose mental capacity is just above everyone else, just like the Kenyan in marathon running. They have to be out there, scientifically it makes sense. And if they're so smart, they are smart enough to hide from the angry jealous mobs that are eventually going to form against them.

There are obviously huge differences in intelligence between humans at present. IQ tests only reflect some types of intelligence, but the gap between the top and bottom performers is at least a big as between a high level athlete and a grossly obese couch potato. But most obese people become obese through poor dietary habits and lack of exercise. And nobody can become an athlete without a lot of regular practice, no matter how good their DNA is.

My point is that, if you took two identical twins, it would be possible to turn one into a person so obese that he couldn't walk without help, and the other into a high-level athlete, just by giving them different diets and lifestyles.

I think that through a healthy diet and a lot of efforts similar differences can be achieved in intellectual fitness and skills. Imagine an experiment with identical twins lasting for 10 years, from age 10 to 20. Lock one of them in front of a TV watching only mind-numbing programs and feed him a terrible diet, without going to school or reading a singe book, and no access to the Internet. During the same period, take his identical twin and give him the best diet, provide top-class private tutors, send him to the best universities, and pay him to reward learning. I am sure that the difference in skills and knowledge between the two after 10 years will be huge.

LeBrok
05-02-14, 20:09
There are obviously huge differences in intelligence between humans at present. IQ tests only reflect some types of intelligence, but the gap between the top and bottom performers is at least a big as between a high level athlete and a grossly obese couch potato. But most obese people become obese through poor dietary habits and lack of exercise. And nobody can become an athlete without a lot of regular practice, no matter how good their DNA is.

Exactly. The superhumans already exist. Some people can lift 100 kg above head without exercising much, some will not lift even 20 kg in their prime. Some can speak 5 languages fluently, some won't muster even one. Some can build rockets and do brain surgery, but some are only comfortable with simple manual work, and scared when learning something new. Some will recall almost everything from their memory, but others forget as fast as their learn. There are incredibly gorgeous people that everybody wants to sleep or spend life with, some others unfortunately are really hard to look at.
If anything genetic technology will narrow this gap. There will be not much incentive for already smart, healthy and beautiful people to change anything in their babies. On other hand there will be a huge drive from not so beautiful, not so healthy, or with terrible memory to ask doctor about improvements to their genetic code when given to their offspring.
I'm surprised that so many people who are against inequality in financial sense, can be strongly comfortable with this terrible genetic inequality.





I think that through a healthy diet and a lot of efforts similar differences can be achieved in intellectual fitness and skills. Imagine an experiment with identical twins lasting for 10 years, from age 10 to 20. Lock one of them in front of a TV watching only mind-numbing programs and feed him a terrible diet, without going to school or reading a singe book, and no access to the Internet. During the same period, take his identical twin and give him the best diet, provide top-class private tutors, send him to the best universities, and pay him to reward learning. I am sure that the difference in skills and knowledge between the two after 10 years will be huge.
I agree, without good environmental interaction even best genes are nothing. However, it should be stressed here, that without good genetic predisposition it is extremely hard to teach people with bad memory anything. The process is frustrating and discouraging for both students and teachers. Likewise, unattractive people will never have good selection of partners, and are damned for waiting for someone desperate to want them. Also, people with bad health will never be athletes. Parents who never excelled in schools and do only manual low paying jobs can never expect their offspring to be a brain surgeon or rocket scientist, no matter how much education is thrown at the kid.

LeBrok
06-02-14, 00:22
In today's news the first bionic hand that allows sense of touch was tested, allowing amputee feel objects for first time after he lost his hands.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bionic-hand-offers-immediate-sense-of-touch-1.2524642
http://i.cbc.ca/1.2524676.1391633135!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_300/healthbeat-bionic-hand.jpg

Even though this is a fantastic development for these poor souls, I can't wait till bioengineering can rebuild a hand of other body parts to their natural state and functionality. Stem Cell research is very exciting and promising in this department.
Bionic hand, no matter how good, will always be a substitute, and regeneration (genetic engineering) the goal and the ultimate cure.

caviar4thought
09-02-14, 03:36
Hi everybody. I googled “designer babies” and came over this thread. So I’m new here, this is my first post.


Most sense what it makes to me is first getting rid of diseases and than trying to make the babies more intelligent as ourselves.

It's precisely the other way around, Alan. We are too many (and getting more numerous) and too big (and gettin' bigger; even the Asians are getting taller and fatter). If we were 10X smaller wolfing 50X less of the traditional resources (like dead animals from slaughterhouses, fish, forests, etc) your version would hold some water. What we desperately need is to get smarter, way smarter than we are right now: the new gods on the block.

" But genetical modification to smarten people up might not be the answer to equalize things, because then jobs would also get more intellectually challenging." [Kamani] -- "more intellectually challenging" is exactly what we'll need, since otherwise we'll die of boredom. That's what scared me while thinking how to asymptotically approach the absolute knowledge: Will an absolute knowledgeable entity just die of boredom, since s/he'll encounter 0 [zero] challenges? I guess not, since absolute knowledge = absolute power, so S/HE'll be able to downgrade himself (as often as he wants) to inferior levels of knowledge that'll allow him to enjoy countless challenges.

BTW, what if we're actually .. HIM in one of his escapades?

LeBrok
09-02-14, 19:15
Will an absolute knowledgeable entity just die of boredom, since s/he'll encounter 0 [zero] challenges? Fear no more. Most people don't feel excited learning or figuring out inner working of universe, neither it is a main goal of any lifeform on earth. Scientific knowledge is more like a side effect of our amazing brains. There are many other things that make the life worth living and fun, like love, family, kids, food, sex, travel, beach, skiing, gardening etc, etc. As long as we don't forget about fun loving genes people will have a reason to live for, no matter if we have ultimate knowledge or not.
However, regardless how much fun we will have and how long we will live in the future, there might be a time in our lives when we experienced it all and life became very boring. For that reason euthanasia will be a very popular method of dieing in the future.



I guess not, since absolute knowledge = absolute power, so S/HE'll be able to downgrade himself (as often as he wants) to inferior levels of knowledge that'll allow him to enjoy countless challenges.

BTW, what if we're actually .. HIM in one of his escapades? Intriguing. This is assuming that the main goal of existence is to achieve the ultimate knowledge and power. Therefore, how ironic it is to downgrade yourself to "lower" state being, just to find sense of living!

caviar4thought
09-02-14, 21:09
Fear no more. Most people don't feel excited learning or figuring out inner working of universe

We’re not talking about “most people” (who are obviously dumb “Desperate Housewives” watchers) here, but about a super-smart (even all-knowledgeable) entity. A genuine intellectual won’t stop learning. Smart dudes wanna know the “inner working of universe” and of anything else.


There are many other things that make the life worth living and fun, like love, family, kids, food, sex, travel, beach, skiing, gardening etc, etc.

Any sensation is processed by the brain. An all-powerful entity will surely control all the sensations in his brain (or should we call it CPU?) without having to eat the best steak (= a piece of dead animal) or bed a supermodel (= a waxed ape on high heels, possibly carrying some exotic STD’s). HE can experience the maximum possible pleasure/s whenever (presuming that time still exists for HIM) HE wants. For HIM having sex with the hottest woman in the history of planet earth would be like you being in the fanciest restaurant with the best food in the world on the table in front of you and deciding to go outside and eat grass. Would you eat grass?


However, regardless how much fun we will have and how long we will live in the future, there might be a time in our lives when we experienced it all and life became very boring.

Let’s agree upon one obvious thing: only an ALL-knowledgeable entity can “experience it ALL.” Which is good news, cuz that means that for as long as we only asymptotically approach the absolute knowledge (and in the process become immortals) we’re safe, from a state of mind perspective.


Intriguing. This is assuming that the main goal of existence is to achieve the ultimate knowledge and power.

It HAS to be! I have a hunch that the Big Bang didn’t just happened so Joe-6-pack will have $$ for beer and aunt Clarice will tearfully watch soap operas ..


Therefore, how ironic it is to downgrade yourself to "lower" state being, just to find sense of living!

Well, how about not even an absolutely intelligent entity can overcome the Sisyphus’ fate? Like in, ‘OK, now that I know everything I’m bored to death. Let’s simultaneously press the self-destroy button and create another Big Bang – I’ll have again, for a few billions of years, tons of fun (= countless challenges to outwit)’

LeBrok
11-02-14, 20:22
We’re not talking about “most people” (who are obviously dumb “Desperate Housewives” watchers) here, but about a super-smart (even all-knowledgeable) entity. A genuine intellectual won’t stop learning. Smart dudes wanna know the “inner working of universe” and of anything else.
I was trying to tell you that just being smart might not be enough to sustain life. It is very likely that super smart people, with no interest and excitements of ordinary dumb humans, might come to conclusion that their existence is meaningless to the universe and elect to end their lives and their species. I'm sure that, regardless how smart we will get, we will need variety of pleasures, interests, excitements, simple emotions, to keep us interested and alive for a long time.


Any sensation is processed by the brain. An all-powerful entity will surely control all the sensations in his brain (or should we call it CPU?) without having to eat the best steak (= a piece of dead animal) or bed a supermodel (= a waxed ape on high heels, possibly carrying some exotic STD’s). HE can experience the maximum possible pleasure/s whenever (presuming that time still exists for HIM) HE wants. For HIM having sex with the hottest woman in the history of planet earth would be like you being in the fanciest restaurant with the best food in the world on the table in front of you and deciding to go outside and eat grass. Would you eat grass? In distant time in the future it should be possible to make people so smart and of incredible computer like memory, and download all the world knowledge and experience (sexual included) into a brain of 5 year old super human. With perfect recall memory there is no need for real life experiences, as the downloaded ones seem perfectly real. What would be reason to live above age of 5? Or need for humans at all?




It HAS to be! I have a hunch that the Big Bang didn’t just happened so Joe-6-pack will have $$ for beer and aunt Clarice will tearfully watch soap operas .. It is egocentric, special purpose humans, very spiritual I must say. World will "survive" without people, regardless if beer drinking or knowledge hungry. It started without our help and it will end perfectly fine without it either.




Well, how about not even an absolutely intelligent entity can overcome the Sisyphus’ fate? Like in, ‘OK, now that I know everything I’m bored to death. Let’s simultaneously press the self-destroy button and create another Big Bang – I’ll have again, for a few billions of years, tons of fun (= countless challenges to outwit)’ The problem is that once the old world is destroyed and new created, it won't be you anymore but other conscious being. It is like saying that when I clone myself, make a perfect physical copy, I can kill my old body and live as new one. I'm afraid that without physical continuity we are losing existence forever, not mentioning that a big part who we are is our acquired knowledge and memories of life experiences.

caviar4thought
12-02-14, 03:41
The problem is that once the old world is destroyed and new created, it won't be you anymore but other conscious being.

That's disputable and, without a doubt, quite an interesting subject to debate. I believe it's our duty to try to become the masters of the universe and if you don't want to follow me I'll call you guys from upstairs and let ya know how it feels like. If you are curious eye my new thread, "Assembling gods, one letter at a time."

caviar4thought
12-02-14, 03:56
Oops, apparently I cannot start a thread cuz I have only 4 posts and I need 10. Maybe later ...

LeBrok
12-02-14, 04:10
That's disputable and, without a doubt, quite an interesting subject to debate. I believe it's our duty to try to become the masters of the universe and if you don't want to follow me I'll call you guys from upstairs and let ya know how it feels like. If you are curious eye my new thread, "Assembling gods, one letter at a time."
Wow, that's what world really needs, another god. ;)
In mean time lets concentrate on more urgent issues, making sure that earth survives and humans won't kill each other, till we manage to create loving real god who will protect us.

LeBrok
12-02-14, 04:13
Oops, apparently I cannot start a thread cuz I have only 4 posts and I need 10. Maybe later ...
Post six fake posts here, and do your thread. I'll delete the fakies later.

caviar4thought
12-02-14, 04:30
Wow, that's what world really needs, another god. ;)
In mean time lets concentrate on more urgent issues, making sure that earth survives and humans won't kill each other, till we manage to create loving real god who will protect us.

a "loving god"?! I can't even think of a more boring dude up in the sky ... And I don't need protection, but knowledge (and, meanwhile, the Jackpot in the Lottery won't bother me much ..)

OK, 5 left ..

LeBrok
12-02-14, 04:40
how did you stick the Alberta flag there? I got a sticker from a shop and glued it on screen in the right place. :grin:
Seriously I don't remember it was 5 years ago. Look for it in Settings, I guess.

LeBrok
07-03-14, 23:45
Gene therapy is entering mainstream.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g1JajLELpZMRvK5rUun9hB1rHkFQ?docId=1736c5d8-cc4c-407f-aa8e-3a91346acc5e

It will cure 70 million people worldwide infected with HIV.