Re: Moreaus?

From: Corwyn J. Alambar (
Date: Wed Oct 04 2000 - 12:32:01 MDT

Just to throw in my two cents on this...

Such a thing is definitely possible - some of our experiments with other
primates have shown that we may yet be able to teach them without any
genetic tinkering. Add in the genetic component, and we should be able to
re-implement the changes evolution made to come up with us, at least in
terms of sentience and intelligence.

Uplifting other species may prove more difficult, but Brin's examples of
dolphins, chimpanzees, and gorillas all make sense - they seem to have the
capabilities as-is. SOme recent studies seem to indicate that we are engaging
in a wholesale, haphazard uplift of raccoons (They have grown in size and
intelligence with the more puzzles we throw at them. I have some anecdotes
that are good examples, but they're more off-topic for this). The question
is, where would we stop? Would we want to uplift bears, wolves, cougars,
or similar? I think the answer is, quite simply, if we start we'll find it
almost impossible to stop.

It's the getting started that's the problem. Ethicists are already asking
some annoying questions about our "right" to tinker with things like this,
and certain schools of religious thought would look upon this sort of work
as "tinkering with God's creation" or "trying to engage in the one act still
sacred to the Creator - the creation of new, sentient life". It would raise
all kinds of interesting and obnoxious questions about the soul, and would
result in a group of sentient beings that would have no unanswered questions
about their Creators - they could ask us. The backlash amongst the religious
elements of our society, especially those of the Judeo-Christian line, would
be intene.

As for Moreaus, though, there is another possibility. Most people have some
sort of idealized anthropomorphized view of themselves. Consider this
question: If you could take on the traits of any animal, what animal would it
be? we already are doing crude body modifications that are slowly reaching
this level - surgically implanted bone structures that look like horns,
sculpted nails like claws, and certain hair grafts. The idea of a physical
transformation to something of a half-animal, half-human form resonates with
some people on a very deep level. THIS sort of Moreau I could see as being
not only possible, but most likely probable, given that it could be done
through limited genetic modifications and lots of advanced structural

Like those who engage in body modification today, it's quite likely that people
who engages in this sort of "transformation" would be ostrasized and shunned
by most people, forced into certain "niche" communities for employment,
especially manual labor. SInce such changes wouldn't be inheritable, it would
be less likely to create a true "underclass" of Moreaus, the in-generation
effects would be fairly pronounced until they became generally accepted.

Again, just a few thoughts on this.


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