Re: Nanotech control systems (was Re: Transhuman Beach Party)

Robert J. Bradbury (
Thu, 9 Sep 1999 21:58:57 -0700 (PDT)

On Thu, 9 Sep 1999 wrote:

> I said:
> > They have engineered Drosophila with legs growing out of the head
> > and I believe with extra sets of wings. It simply involves adding
> > putting a gene that makes and "X" and under the regulation of
> > the "Y" region control element, i.e.
> > if (I_Am_In_Region_Y)
> > Synthesize_Collection_Of_Cells_for_X();
> Technically:
> They didn't engineer Antennapedia or Bithorax, they found them. We probably
> could engineer them now; alterations to developmental genes are pretty routine
> for the major experimental animals. Also, those particular mutations are to
> region-identifying genes.

I checked this and since I can't find a specific reference to engineering such "add-ons", and can find references to the mutants (as far back as 1949), I stand corrected.

I would comment, that our engineering is getting pretty specific, e.g. "Mice lacking all conventional MHC class II genes", PNAS 96:10338-10343. The next step in this process is - "enginerring humanized mouse models of human MHC-II-associated autoimmune disorders" (perhaps including diabetes, rhumatoid arthritis, etc.).

> > If it looks like something you already grow, you could probably assemble
> > them in a fairly ad hoc fasion.
> Yes, but it gets harder away from pet organisms. Details matter;
a lot of
> these things are concentration-dependent and you have to get the
> concentrations right. It's a real problem for "engineering" people -
> in addition to ethical issues about lack of choice there's a very high
> chance that you'd make a few goofs fine-tuning the process and that's
> *really* unacceptable.

Why? If we can do it on adults with informed consent, I can open "Robert's Spare Body Parts For U" and the spares can go up for grabs on eBay! You get your 5-fingered hands, your 4-fingered hands, your 2-thumbed hands, the possibilities are simply endless.