Re: a new thread

From: Ian Field (
Date: Wed May 17 2000 - 16:07:33 MDT

Just getting back into this...

| ----- Original Message -----
| From: White, Ryan
| Assertion: I would count myself a definite advocate of human
| meta-programming, genetic manipulation, and interfacing with
| technology. I recognize humanity as a beautiful actualization of
| evolution, but also that we are on the verge of accelerated, directed
| evolution via advanced technologies. I embrace human self-modification
| what the heck, why not our evolutionary cousins? Why not our ecosystem?).
| But, as with any new technology, I think it necessary to consider the
| and economic implications.

Absolutely agreed - a strong sense of responsibility to individuals and to
the species is vital to any such undertaking.

| Personally, I'd love to affect genetic optimization of my offspring. But
| think we need to be aware of the issues that arise: For example, the
| will have 'better' offspring, while the 'have-nots' won't be able to
| all the 'kinder-mods'.

Excellent point - I don't have a good answer, just a comparison or two:
Private School vs. Public School, Private Healthcare vs. Public

| And what happens if and when everybody can afford
| it? Are we all going to optimize our offspring's genetic predispositions
| towards some arbitrarily-chosen 'superior quality set'? There goes the
| genetic diversity of the human race. It would be sad if humans turned out
| have a gene pool like the poor cheetahs.

Another excellent point. Dan Adams' thoughts re: Dynamic DNA/genetic
programming (below) might help us address this concern - you allow for
natural genetic variance, while boosting the likelihood of "positive"
mutations (Dan, apologies if I'm butchering your concept). This, of course,
doesn't make a lot of sense when shooting for a particular adaptation (i.e.
brain/microprocessor interface), but...

|| Dan Adams Wrote:
|| What if we ask how we can create dynamic DNA rather
|| than allowing ourselves to fall down the slippery
|| slope of ethical considerations attached with
|| prescribing physical conditions to our progeny?
|| Without making any appeal to a non-corporeal
|| information existence, I can envision a
|| semi-autonomous process (governed by a deep
|| understanding of genetics) whereby not only are
|| negative factors (e.g. potential disability and
|| disease) precluded within the genetic programming, but
|| only the best (read, "really good") solutions are
|| found. All of this however without any hardwiring on
|| the human designers part.
|| The field currently known as genetic programming uses
|| a highly dynamic matrix of factors which allow it to
|| seek out a near-global optimum in a search space
|| within highly constrained parameters. The idea behind
|| it (Holland, 1975) was originally derived from
|| biology. Now that it's been abstracted and perfected,
|| let's use it in biology again. This time to produce
|| the next generation of people. You can design better
|| people without definite specifications of what they
|| must be and without falling into the dangerous
|| "eugenics" zone...

| What happens if the environment
| changes drastically, say, due to an asteroid impact that we failed to
| prevent because nobody funded the hurtling-space-rock-defense program?
| we have the genetic diversity to ensure the continued survival of our

See above - I really don't foresee a homo sapiens "standard"... I guess
it's possible that we could lose some variety over an extended period, but
not enough to affect our ability to adapt. I think society is the biggest
threat to future human evolution, not technology.

| And is the process of deliberately manipulating your child's genetic
| blueprint fair to the child? It/he/she doesn't seem to have much of a
| choice in the matter at the time. I can see it now: little Susan files a
| lawsuit against her parents for giving her basketball genes when all she
| ever wanted to be was a doctor.

You can lead a horse to water... If I am born with the ability to play
basketball, it doesn't necessarily follow that I will, and, If I am born
with the ability to communicate with machines, it doesn't necessarily follow
that I will choose to do that either. There are certain types of
manipulation (visible physical aspects, personality "enhancement") which are
obviously more dangerous than others... I think we'll have to let society
draw the lines.

| As for direct interface between the nervous system and computer
| it seems like an obvious and tangible transhumanist endeavor.


| I spend a lot
| of my time pondering the integration of the human nervous system and
| microprocessors (and also the extensions of that basic interface -
| telepathy, anyone?

Telepathy sounds incredibly wonderful - but I don't think we have the
genetic basis for any sort of wireless brain-brain communication. Throw in
the right machinery though...

| I would love to connect and learn from people with a
| similar vision.

So would I.

| If any of you bright people know of anybody out there
| working on making this possible, I would be very interested in initiating
| contact with them. I actually have an outline for an experiment I would
| love to try, on animal or insect models.

I'm considering the possibility of putting together a business plan. The
initial goal would be to obtain funding for an extended period of research
into the biological and computer technology aspects of this concept. An
early milestone might be the submission of a comprehensive "Advanced
Human-Computer Interaction" RFC to IEEE and other standards organizations.
There is a lot of money being spent on HCI research, which I see this as an
extension of. Ideas, anyone?


| -----Original Message-----
| From: Ian Field []
| Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2000 11:17 PM
| To:
| Subject: a new thread
| Any thoughts on human genetic manipulation? Say, with the purpose of
| creating a workable interface between an electronic microprocessor and a
| human mind? Throw in some nanotechnology for physical interaction...
| Education equates to software development... Implications?

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