Steve Jones and the Transhumanists

Earlier this week, Professor Steve Jones made an audacious claim by stating the following:

…In ancient times half our children would have died by the age of twenty. Now, in the Western world, 98% of them are surviving to the age of 21. Our life expectancy is now so good that eliminating all accidents and infectious diseases would only raise it by a further two years. Natural selection no longer has death as a handy tool…

Hmmm, human evolution is slowing down because we’re not dying off so young anymore. Okay, maybe that’s true. But the Prof doesn’t stop there:

…Small populations which are isolated can change – evolve – at random as genes are accidentally lost. Worldwide, all populations are becoming connected and the opportunity for random change is dwindling. History is made in bed, but nowadays the beds are getting closer together. Almost everywhere, inbreeding is becoming less common. In Britain, one marriage in fifty or so is between members of a different ethnic group, and the country is one of the most sexually open in the world. We are mixing into a global mass, and the future is brown.”

He added: “So, if you are worried about what utopia is going to be like, don’t; at least in the developed world, and at least for the time being, you are living in it now.”

“We are mixing into a global mass, and the future is brown.” Uh, sure. Tell us something we don’t already know.

It’s no-brainer that Caucasian people in the United States will be a minority by 2050. Not a big deal in my view.

Then again I’m not a KKKer, neo-nazi or a Dominionist Fundie either. But I digress and the point of Jones’ argument is that as the worlds’ population becomes more homogenous, evolution slows down or stops.

I really doubt that hypothesis, and not only because he claims that we’re in an evolutionary “utopia” now.

Puh-leez.

If this is utopia, what’s this guys’ definition of Purgatory?

Anyways, an article by Johnjoe McFadden in the guardian.co.uk makes the claim that selective genetic engineering will bring a flowering of human variety, free of death and disease:

Modifying heritable genes is presently considered to be unacceptable, at least in humans, because we would be tinkering with our genetic inheritance. But is that such a bad thing? Our genes are the products of billions of years of evolution – chance mutations – that were selected because they provided an advantage to one or more of our ancestors. But sometimes, random mutations can damage our genes. If that damage is in a skin or muscle cell then it won’t be a problem (at least not to our children). But if the damaged gene is in an egg or sperm cell that our children will inherit the damaged gene and may suffer a genetic disease. If they have children (perhaps before knowing they are carrying a genetic defect) then their children may also be afflicted. Given enough evolutionary time, it is likely that unchecked natural selection would eventually remove damaged genes from the population; but should we wait that long? Thousands of children are born each year with defects, such as heart problems, that we have no hesitation in correcting. If we have the technology to correct defects in their genes then isn’t it in the interests of the common good to do so?

Gene therapy of human genetic diseases in affected embryos is almost certainly within reach. The team that gave us Dolly the sheep also generated Polly the sheep, the world’s first transgenic animal, in 1997. Polly’s DNA was engineered, while she was still an embryo, to contain a copy of a human gene. It is likely that similar approaches could be used to correct gene defects in human embryos.

But why should we stop with deadly diseases? Wouldn’t you want your children to also have a longer life with lower risk of cancer or heart disease? With more genes linked to common diseases turning up every day, it won’t be too long before gene therapy is available to screen out even common ailments. If the technology was available to ensure that your children lived their lives free of cancer, wouldn’t you take it?

Well, I’d be first in line for gene tailored meds to cure the chronic crap illnesses I have, McFadden would get no argument from me!

But would specialized genetic engineering spur new evolution in human beings?

I believe it could, if humans expanded out into the Solar System and interstellar space.

Mars? Why bother with space suits. Engineer humans to breath thin carbon dioxide air, grow thick skin to combat solar radiation and sprout solar “wings” to collect sunlight for food!

Micro-gravity a problem? Engineer an extra two-chamber heart in the groin area to pump blood more evenly, activate genes to make more bone calcium and muscle mass and engineer antibodies to resist cosmic radiation!

You get my point.

Yeah, I know, more space geek shit. But hey, this could help herald a new ‘Cambrian Explosion!’

Why not?

Dipping into our gene pool

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9 responses

  1. Hi dad2059…

    Professor Steve Jones is spot-on!

    In fact as Martha Stewart might say…” it is a good thing”… 😀

    Here’s a link explaining hybrid vigor where two inbred strains; ie., true breeding folks from basically isolated cultures mate with that of another culture/race; ie., Chinese with blacks, White’s with blacks, White’s with Chinese, Malaysians and blacks etc. The end result is the possibility of the demonstration of hybrid vigor; ie., an individual that is more attractive, physically fit in a native sense, and also possibly quite a bit brighter with the merging of those genes from two diverse gene pools. A “sepia to brown world” is not necessarily a bad thing in the world to come.

    http://www.answers.com/topic/heterosis-1

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. That kind of breeding I don’t have a beef with, in fact, it’s what’s going to happen anyway.

    I think what Jones’ original argument was that when all the racial interbreeding is done and the result is a uniform homogenous mix, natural selection slows down or stops.

    But he fails to take into account technological advances in genetic engineering and related technologies accelerating the human genome as we tweek our own chromosomes.

    This will happen long before the natural racial-breeding process is completed.

    Check out stories by Greg Bear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_Angels, and the Orion’s Arm website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion%27s_Arm, they’ll give you an idea how things could pan out over the next century to 10,000 years.

  3. Well, it does seem that the human gene pool is becoming something akin to maltomeal, but what isn’t? I haven’t ate a natural carrot for a long time, and to see an old growth tree is a special trip into the wilderness. Genetic engineering of our foodstuffs is becoming commonplace, and some species like corn all contain genetic strains of dna.

    Not to be in disagreement Dad,but I think that tampering with any dna period is a dangerous proposition. As far as our food, I think Luther Burbank had the right idea, tampering with the sex life of plants, It seems to tweek the processes of natural selection, producing bigger carrots for more folks, but we should keep in mind that Mother Nature is perfect, and left alone will put everything in harmony.

    Ought of chaos comes order, and nothing stays the same, but as things stand on this planet, it is the human animal that is causing most of the chaos. Philsophically I suppose we could say that we are part of the natural order of things and endorse the power to sprout wings. I have no doubt that through nana tech that it can be done. But like a lot of the things we do, with what to us seems good intentions, could have adverse affects, putting the vibes of all flying vertebrates out of tune.

    I really think that it’s ok to understand genetics and how the genome works in living species, but that we assume a higher level of responsibility before making our own genes or even the genes of a carrot…G:

  4. I hear ya Geez, but I think the human race, if it expands out into the Universe, will need to change as we spread into areas that are naturally hostile to us.

    I know you guys believe we’ll never leave the Earth and that we’ll eventually become extinct like other species before us, but you forget one thing, the very thing that causes so much destruction on the Earth is also our salvation.

    Our intelligence.

    We don’t use that ability enough, I know.

    But that doesn’t mean we should give up, lie down and die, doesn’t it?

    Unlike most people, I don’t think the human race is equal to shit, even though half of us would seem unredeemable at times.

    I’ll take my chances with people like Robert Bigelow, Elon Musk and Richard Branson.

    True human scum like the elitist Bu$hco criminal clan are nothing but a sore, scabby pustule on the arse of an hairy chimp.

    They will be nothing but a shitty footnote in future history.

  5. Hi dad2059 et al. …

    “They will be nothing but a shitty footnote in future history.”

    Indeed, but sometimes shitty footnotes such as the reign of the Bushistas can cause a new dark age for humanity. Think of them as “pirate capitalists” at the gates; ie., referring to the gates of Rome of yore. They are the barabarians at the gates and have long since been into the castle’s keep; ie., the U.S. Treasury no different than the barbarians of old except these guys have MBA’s instead of swords and clubs…!

    Economically speaking these mattoids have set humankind back at least a hundred years in terms of a chance to climb out of the economic crater in which they’ve sent the U.S. and the world in general. GM’s stock now under $5.00 per share is at the same level as “1950”…!?

    This is serious business and the “depression” that will be wrought from this debacle is going to be a very, very long ordeal. Although Americans are a “can do” lot of people for the most part their infrastructure has been systematically disassembled and shipped offshore. We produce nothing except the weapons of war which only benefit high tech corporate camp followers such as Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Ratheon et al. …!

    The “main” export from the ports of New York and Long Beach are scrap metal and cardboard. We’ve become a nation of feedlot consumers that produce nothing other than mind-boggling debt. We have become the “Eloi”, re: The Time Machine and the Chinese, Indians, and Malaysians are the “Morlocks”; ie., the producers of consumer “stuff” which has slowly but surely softened the American people to that of feedlot animals…!

    We’re in deep trouble and there’s not going to an easy way to dig ourselves out of this one. Even a an old “fashioned war” like WWII which brought the U.S. out of the Great Depression won’t work because the next war will be a high tech one of nuclear proportions with the endgame to checkmate finished within a matter of a few
    hours or less!

    “I hear ya Geez, but I think the human race, if it expands out into the Universe,”…extract from above commentary

    We aren’t expanding even beyond the beltway at his point in time much less the universe…! : |

    We’re going to have to settle for science, especially that of deep space exploration as simply “fiction” for some time to come if not forever at this point.

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. Re: paragraph 4…

    Ratheon should read: Raytheon

    I really get disturbed when I do stuff such as this, since I try to take pride in my posts… : )

    Nemo **==

  7. I really get disturbed when I do stuff such as this, since I try to take pride in my posts… : )

    Take a deep breath Nemo my friend, don’t let these criminals get the best of you.

    It does indeed look grim now and I can very easily give in to the depression this sordid business causes.

    But in the midst of all the depression, I still have that little voice I’ve had since I was eleven years old inside of my head that says “There is hope for tomorrow!” and “We will become something better!”.

    The voice refuses to go away and die.

    So I decided long ago to go with it.

    Give up and quit? Nah, ain’t gonna happen.

    Funny that nobody has prescribed therapy for it! LOL! 8)

  8. “But in the midst of all the depression, I still have that little voice I’ve had since I was eleven years old inside of my head that says “There is hope for tomorrow!” and “We will become something better!”.”

    And, my old gyrenic warhorse friend, WHEN did I ever NOT give you hope for the future… what, by disbelieving in man’s puny prowess and so-called evolutionary prowess? All of the things I’ve heard hoped for, here, and on other blogs, are possible, BUT… not in the current paradigm of thought; that thought being that man could ever get his act together on his own, especially with supernatural opposition!

    Oh yeah… the eyes are rolling now, aren’t they? Listen up, you men of the foil… you guys want to run with the wild ones, then you have to push the envelope! Hey… most everyone will concede in SOME way that the technological and theoretical aspects of your society could be possible and feasible, but they are based on the assumption that man, indeed, has his act together! True, there are some that do wax righteous in the land, but are they winning in the big picture? Are they running the government and determining policy? Is the world steadily progressing toward that utopia we all talk about, hunched over a brew in a bar?

    We don’t talk about ANYTHING uplifting in a bar, or even on our blogs, do we, now? That’s because there ISN’T anything good to talk about, and unlike our other blogger friends who haven’t realized that, yet, we have eyes to see, and ears to hear. That’s why we’re foilers!

    We’re here to remind the world that the emperor is, indeed, naked, and I am here to remind you, my fellow scholars in truth, that one can never restrict the boundaries of free and open thought. Science, indeed, has it’s place, along with deductive reasoning, and that deductive reasoning shows a steady free-fall in moral, physical, and societal attributes THROUGHOUT the history of mankind, despite the spikes. We’re not getting better, we’re DYING, slowly and progressively!

    Negative fundieism? Nope. Deductive, scientific reasoning, boys. I’m not keeping my head in the sand. I’ve got a survival ‘instinct’ that won’t accept the word of elitists and their dupes that it’s them and their rendition of ‘truth’ that’s all that stands between us and annihilation. And the mummery and mumbo-jumbo that modern fundamentalist theologians and evangelists pipe about, doesn’t blow my skirt up, either. Those assholes are so out of touch with reality, it makes me laugh!

    I say that man WILL survive, and he WILL evolve from the brutish ape that he is, but he WON’T do it by ET’s or on his own prowess, because all ET wants to do is AVOID us, and we are too busy getting one up on the Jones’ to bother with thoughts aspiring to greatness of character.

    Anyway… something to think about. Busy day, today. The life of a highwayman is fraught with responsibility. (And irresponsibility! LOL!)

    Later, you scum of the earth foilers, you!

    😉

  9. Yeah, you did mention you were going to haunt my abode!

    You and those supernatural superbeings, what am I to do with you?

    Super advanced aliens, dimensional entities, spirits, demons, gods, crypto-terrestrials?

    Same things, are they not?

    Depends on your outlook I guess.

    Read my new ‘Children of Humanity’ tale ^^.

    You’ll see that even Transcendental Entities can get up on the “wrong side of the bed!” 😆 !

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