Re: Genome issues

Date: Sat Jul 01 2000 - 07:22:57 MDT

In a message dated 6/27/00 2:01:16 AM Central Daylight Time,

> All in all a rather strange article, mundane in places with a few
> bizarre sections to keep us on our toes. Perhaps the dual authorship
> is showing here.

Not dual authorship, but dual culture. The passages you found notably odd,
Hal, arise from having one foot in the past and one in the future. You say
you can't see why anyone would object to an adult choosing to alter their
genome for purely decorative purposes. I agree - I can't understand why
anyone would object, either. But LOTS of people would - probably the
majority of people able to grasp the basic concept.

Most of the human animal's period on Earth - and an even larger portion of
its duration if you count our immediate biological ancestors - was lived in
an environment in which humans had no control over biology. Instead, biology
completely controlled humans. Ten thousand years ago, we began to work with
selective breeding as a technology to gain some slow mastery over some
aspects of biology; a technology that produced results only over a period of
decades to millennia. Evolutionary psychology is giving us insights into the
fact that we have only begun to come to terms with this technology in terms
of our psychology and culture.

In the blink of an eye, we have stepped across a new threshold. The cultural
and psychological tools we have to deal with the power of genengineering are
only a couple of centuries old, dating really only from the 18th century
Enlightenment; again, the blink of an eye in terms of the speed with which
most of human culture changed.

It shouldn't surprise us that the people who are having to come to terms with
the new power of genengineering are ill-equipped to deal with it, in terms of
psychology, philosophy and culture. Yesterday we were neolithic
hunter-gatherers. At dawn we developed agriculture. A few minutes later, we
invented writing. It's not even breakfast time yet, and we have to deal with
controlling the human genome. Most of humanity is barely awake.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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