Genetic Myopia

Rick Knight (
Thu, 12 Jun 97 11:04:19 CST

Lee Daniel Crosby wrote:

"Evolution is a pretty simple mathematical phenomenon once you
understand it. When applied to living organisms, it's quite
clear that immortality serves no purpose to a gene's survival,
and in fact is detrimental in many cases. Once you're done
reproducing, your body is no longer useful to your genes' further
replication, so no evolutionary pressure to continue is present.
Evolution serves the replicators (genes, roughly speaking),
not organisms."

My response:

"This somehow triggered a "what if" that I'd like to muddle thru. Is
it possible that the torch-bearer for millions of years of physical
evolution has been the gene. With the fairly recent advent of
self-aware beings who have evolved consciously to a point of
themselves creating the first near-sentient life forms (our computers,
our eventual nanotechnological agents). Could the torch possibly be
ready to pass from physical matter-bound immortality to a lighter
energy form?

We all fancy immortality or at least life extension with good quality
of life but I don't even think it would take a century for an immortal
to become quite weary of a matter-bound existence. Granted, if the
majority were to become "immortal" in the physical sense, we'd likely
get a lot more done, with no preoccupation on time constraints or
energy spent fearing the limits of our own mortality.

Fundamentally, I think we ultimately want freedom and retention of
self-awareness, two things we perceive death robs us of. (Whether it
does or not is answered individually for us post-mortem I suppose...if
we care...if we're still there to care...).

Living in the here and now, we can yammer on about quality of life,
quests for the stars, soundness of financial investments, exploiting
anything beneath us on the food/brain chain, yadda, yadda, yadda.
It's all well and good, keeps the neurons firing and ideas
percolating, passes the time and provides intrigue and distraction.

But what if we as humans (or perhaps the posthuman motif of Extropian
design) have the transcendent mechanism to shift immortality from
physically-bound to an ethereal situation.

Don't know about some of you but being fabulously wealthy in a chateau
by the sea with plenty of servants and assured physical immortality
doesn't hold a candle to the ability to experience the consciousness
of an eagle over the mountains, a wave cresting, a thunderhead
culminating, a whale breaching, a redwood capturing a spring breeze, .
I could actually see spending even a fraction of eternity (lets say a
thousand millennia) instilling my matter-emancipated consciousness
into other physical manifestations and assimilating the "knowing" of
the experience into my being(acquiring experience, BTW, is what I've
assigned to be the meaning of life). Experience is the ultimate
upload. Matter-bound existence seriously limits the quality and
quantity of experience gathering I suspect.

So what of it? Care to engage in a discussion as to whether genes
will have soon served their usefulness and will give way to higher
forms of communicating essence and design to (for the next several
billion years) a blooming and fertile universe?


Rick Knight