Re: Upload rehearsal?

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 1 Nov 1996 18:24:44 +0100 (MET)

On Tue, 29 Oct 1996, Chris Hind wrote:

> >Yes, but do you know what that gene therapy does? It changes *one* gene
> >making *one* protein.
> True but the closest we've gotten to nano are molecular steam engines,
> wires, and moving around atoms to spell words. Hell I'd love a moniter with
> the resolution of atoms! Not insulting nano or anything but it just seems
> closer to reality than nano
> due to the unimaginable possibilies that nano will unfold perhaps?

(Using an atomic scale monitor is hi-fi overkill, you get a resolution
smaller than the wavelength of visible light)

First, I would like to point out the work that has been done with
custom-designed proteins and artificial enzymes; thats what nanotech is
about, and the area shows great promise (and uses genengineering to get
there too). I read about (Science News a few years back) a change in a
bacterial protein that made it create small (20 atoms) crystals of

Secondly, I would like to point out that there is a qualitative difference
between the gears, wires and enzymes and the gene: we have reasonable
control over the former, but we cannot use the genes to do very complex
things. The cell is a nightmare of tangled interactions, where proteins
switch on and off genes producing other proteins that are marked by
enzymes becoming active making the cell do one thing and then switching on
another switch making the cell produce morphogens that influence the
neighbors to change their behavior... we can control a few genes we know
have rather direct effects (like eye color and trombine production), but
making cells differentiate and grow into something we want that isn't
already coded somewhere is extremely nontrivial (i.e. nearly impossible)
at present. We can make crippled fruit flies, but not a fruit fly that
likes meat or have butterfly wings.

> >What you propose is
> >roughly to create a customized multicellular lifeform,
> What was the geep (goat+sheep) and glowing tobacco plant (firefly gene) all
> about?

The tobacco plant was a single gene, each cell expressed it (which is a
waste, but who cares?), and the light emission didn't involve anything
more complex than watering it with the right catalyst.

The geep is more interesting, but wasn't it just a chimerical being (cells
of two types)? Anyway, it is just a combination and its creators didn't
have any special new properties in mind when it was created - it would be
something completely different to make (say) a goat with feathers.

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