lack of evolution (So What!)

Peter Trei trei at
Mon Aug 25 11:21:57 PDT 1997

One factor which everyone seems to be overlooking in this
thread is the future impact of biotechnology.

Sure, evolution by natural selection has largely halted for
the human race - we were, on average, probably at our fittest
about 10,000 years ago, before the introduction of agriculture.
However, artificial evolution will soon take over.

There are two main forms - purely biological evolution through
genetic engineering, and a continued evolution in our 
collaboration with devices.

We are on the verge of achieving the first. We may soon be
able to eliminate many genetically related diseases and

While Rifkin and other Luddites rail against the unnaturalness
of it all, they will fail. There are too many cases where
GE is an unquestionable good. If parents had the option of
the following traits in their children, how many would refuse?

* Perfect teeth - natural immunity to caries.
* Immunity to cancer.
* Immunity to AIDS (about 1% of the current population is
  naturally immune)
* Ditto many other diseases, genetic and infectious.

All the above may be available in the next 20 years. (The 
anti-AIDS gene maybe in 10 - it looks like an easy one). In 
the longer run, almost anything that can be imagined may 
be possible, including physical immortality and increased

Secondly, we've evolved as a tool-using species for a 
million years, and our technology is as much a part of our
inheritance as are our genes. Where will it take us no one
knows, but the future will be richer and stranger than we
can imagine. Our machines will help re-make what it is to
be 'human'. This includes all devices - cyborg or external,
nano or macro, sentient or dumb.

So I'm not too worried that the cull rate due to sabre-tooth
tigers has dropped off, nor even that the irresponsible are
no longer starving to death, which Tim would seem to want. 
Our technology can and will overcome these little problems.

'Not in vain the future beckons,
 Forward, forward let us range.
 Let the great world spin forever
 Down the ringing grooves of Change.'
                      - Tennyson

Peter Trei
trei at

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