Re: Genetic transition to posthumanism

Date: Sun May 20 2001 - 13:04:11 MDT

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:

> Then Eugene (just call me a pessimist) Leitl came along with:

Arrr, while I don't mind being mislabeled as pessimist (hey, somebody
has got to do it), I'm absolutely, utterly innocent of below
misattribution. In fact I'm absolutely on your side in this particular

> > We can structurally modify plants, a bit, but nothing like the
> > precision required. For house-growing, deviations of a fraction of
> > an inch would have to be recognized and communicated across the
> > organism and we don't have anything like that in plants.
> Ah Eugene, you have to work *across* technologies as well as in depth!
> You use external site-management lasers driven by the blueprint that
> interact with highly specific photoantenna complexes within the cells
> that in turn are tied to the signal transduction pathways for "divide"
> or "commit apoptosis".
> That should allow you to control the shape of your new house to
> within 10-20 micron accuracy -- much better than human workers!

I agree with this. Not that I *need* my house to be grown within
20 um precision (or even a dm precision, as long as it on the fiber
optics feed), mind, but I don't mind at all. As long as it doesn't
smell, and I don't get icky slime oozing down the walls, or a case
of crawling bugs I'm perfectly content.
> You only have to tinker with 20 transfer RNA's and proteins
> to give your house an entirely different genetic code. I

Yes, but you also have to modify proteins beyond
metabolizability. While not impossible, it's hard. And
the parasites do adapt. You can make it hard, by
using C60 and B12 clusters for amino acid residues, and weirder
things still, but you still have to use the peptide
bond. Unless you go totally wild, and make something
out of this world, but it's going to run into compatibility

> suspect making stop codons out of the most common amino
> acid triplets will put a real dent into Nature trying
> to turn your house into lunch. Its also going to have to
> get pretty inventive as well if the non-growing surfaces are
> completely coated with abalone shell.

Someone just whispered "Elizabeth Hand" into my ear here,
but I have no idea why. See you after the next rain of roses.
> Presumably you handle the nitrogen problem in ways similar
> to those used by the nitrogen fixing bacteria. Probably

Yes, but these need to be fed. So you need to recognize
a deficit, and compensatingly act upon the deficit by
supplying extra nutrients to a symbiont, while keeping
the parasites of the back of the compleat assembly...
While doable, it's not trivial. Gardening might be fun,
it's not my idea of spending the bulk of my waking time
remotely catering to engineered growing structures.

And please don't tell me you expect to grow spacegoing vessels
that way.

> several layers under the surface cells in a relatively
> anaerobic environment with transporters for exporting fixed
> nitrogen to the aerobic cells. I'm sure you can do the
> arithmetic on the mass of the house and the mass of the
> essential elements needed. I suspect its probably in the
> vicinity of a pickup truck load or less. You can probably
> gain a lot by programming in the nutrient export methods
> trees use in the fall. It would be interesting to see if
> those cells completely reverse the micronutrient flow from
> importing to exporting. If you can restrict the micronutrient
> needs to the growing surfaces only, I suspect the micronutrient
> mass requirements will be very low.

Vewy, vewy intewestink. Whenever the producer for the next alternative
reality script will return my call I'm going to plug in above
paragraph for extra fun. No royalties for you, sorry.

> I do agree however that the medical applications will probably
> capture the imagination of researchers long before the construction
> industry is revamped.

Dirty, dirty Tleilaxu. You should give the Ixians at least some
chance to unfold their particular magic, before walking all over

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