Re: Historic Moment Missed

Dan Clemmensen (
Tue, 29 Jul 1997 05:31:24 -0400

Patrick Wilken wrote:
> A few days ago I posted a note to the effect that we are now have the
> technology to alter the human germ line. And in the following days all I
> see are nutso posts or posts that rely on science that won't become
> available for decades if not centuries. Yet here we have a technology that
> would allow us TODAY to create human beings (??) that would have natural
> lifespans of 100s (1000s???) of years (presuming inserting the appropriate
> antioxidant genes into the human genome will work the same as experiments
> like those on fruit flies). Not only that, but as our knowledge grows to
> gradually create completely new species of humans. Yet no-one seems
> interested about this. I am happy to admit that my posts are no where as
> cleanly written as say Sandberg or Feynman, but I am not willing to accept
> that this is not as important a development as I know it to be. Perhaps
> Perry M. is right and this list has declined to the point that people are
> so inward looking that they can't even notice history marching past
> outside.
Germ-line technology, even if available in full-blown form today, would
very little effect on the future, because human generations are long. If
technology were availaable now, the first modified humans would not be
adults until about 2017. There is no benefit to MY gene progeny until
my grandkids are born, starting in ten years or so with worthwhile
results in the years after 2030. However, because of the very long
intergeneratin time in humans, we will not have fully developed this
technology by then. By the time there is any impact, we will have
developed other technologies that will render the human body, and
possibly humanity, obsolete. At an absolute minimum, we will have
developed somatic-cell replacement and/or modification schemes. These
will be useful to me personally, not just to my grandchildren.