Re: Historic Moment Missed

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 29 Jul 1997 20:02:59 +0200 (MET DST)

On Tue, 29 Jul 1997, 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).

Huh? How does this follow? We have had the technology to alter the
human germ line for several years by now as far as I know (the point
is that nobody did it/was allowed to), but that doesn't mean we know
how to do many useful alterations.

Adding antioxidant genes might be a good start. Another is promoting
more DNA repair (expensive in nature, we can afford it), which would
decrease the risk for cancer. More in the future things like (say)
linking the telomerase gene with an artificial promotor so that you
can activate it by an injection of a drug, lengthening your telomeres
under medical supervision.

> Not only that, but as our knowledge grows to gradually create
> completely new species of humans. Yet no-one seems interested about
> this.

New species are not a goal per se; what would we (or they) use them
for? Here is a simple way of creating homo sapiens secundus: use the
established methods to create an extra chromosome (let us call it the
Z chromosome), moving some genes from other chromosomes to it so that
an individual with the Z would not survive without it. Presto, we
have a new species which cannot interbreed with ordinary homo
sapiens. (Actually, the Z can be useful to carry all the new stuff,
comments, personal data etc).

> 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.

Perhaps. But it might also be that we are so used to dramatic
revolutions every week...

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y