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Artificial Human Evolution Discussion Thread

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Erythrean Thebes
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Artificial Human Evolution Discussion Thread

Postby Erythrean Thebes » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:20 am

One way or another, people on NS are probably familiar with the notion of evolution - a thing changing in response to its environment. Humans are like other animals in that they evolve genetically, passing on new traits to their offspring (the offspring themselves are formed from a mesh of different traits combined by the parents). Evolution was originally called natural selection - evolution is supposedly natural because it has a discernible relationship to stimuli from the environment. Also because the process occurs in the human's genetics, produced by the activity of the DN and RNA. If you've ever heard about plastic surgery though, then you're already aware: humans have the power to evolve themselves artificial through surgical modification of the individual. It's not that controversial in its provenance as an aesthetic procedure, but surgical modification could be pushed further, to the point where it would push the boundaries of conventional humanity. One example in particular has always haunted me. When I was about 10 years old I watched Spider Man 2 with my cousin. In that movie, Dr. Octopus surgically implants 4 powerful robot arms into his spinal cord to assist him with the precise techniques necessary for cold fusion. When the reaction goes haywire and his control chip is damaged, he becomes permanently stuck with the arms as symbionts who share control of his life despite having added a great deal of power to him. I was obsessed with the idea that he was a new form of life, yet nevertheless still human, a type of branch of the human tree who had artificially added a dark and awe-inspiring feature to his own humanity. But this doesn't have to be the only example! In theory, surgical modification could add inert, normal limbs to people for added strength. We could add additional eyes, multiple heads, armor-plated skin, wings, or who knows what! In this way, we would artificially evolve humanity. A whole different side of this question would be opened by a consideration of brain modification, potentially adding telepathy or extrasensory perception as human abilities. And there is also genetic modification, already underway in many parts of the world, to eliminate congenital disease and improve the life prospects of infants and children everywhere.

What do you think is so controversial about the idea of artificial human evolution, and are you personally for or against it? Would modified individuals still be human, or something more? Is it still within the parameters of ordinary evolution to do so? Although I believe personally it would be little different from the bigger scheme of evolutionary process, my adult self is hesitant to rule on whether or not it be safe or desirable. I believe the first step would have to be reaching a widely agreed definition of humanity and its significance. On that basis, we can identity what kind of modifications would be furthering human nature and which ones would be extraneous or undesirable.
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An Alan Smithee Nation
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Postby An Alan Smithee Nation » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:26 am

I can imagine people doing things for cosmetic reasons - like wanting violet eyes or something - using genetics. Whether it will be stuff that can be passed on to their children is probably where we should try to draw a line.

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Autonomous Cleaner Bot Cleaners
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Postby Autonomous Cleaner Bot Cleaners » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:46 am

Erythrean Thebes wrote:What do you think is so controversial about the idea of artificial human evolution...?


It's probably to do with the way the primates, advanced as their knowledge is, are really only beginning to scratch the surface, and the knock on effects of heritable genetic modification in humans is a potentially serious problem. There isn't really "a" gene for any given trait, but rather complex interactions of many genes and traits that produce any particular characteristic. What may be an "improvement" in one area may prove to have unforeseen and serious consequences in others. Anticipating all of these consequences in an organism as complex as a human is a non-trivial matter.

Dunno about bolting robot arms into spines, but it seems like a bad idea. I mean, its a good idea for replacing lost limbs as a matter or restoring normal mobility. But the Spiderman guy? Why not bolt the arms into the fusion reactor assembly instead? The spinal method seems like a waste of a perfectly good robot arm, if you want my honest opinion.
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Pope Joan
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Postby Pope Joan » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:51 am

Spider Robinson wrote a good speculative fiction novel about a future where this had happened, encouraged by selective gene therapy and surgery,

Some people ended up with religious visions and ecstasies, because yes there is a center in the brain for such activities,

Others ended up with links to the cheetah or the bat.

The theory which most appeals to me is that humans no longer evolve individually, We evolve collectively through our technology, which is an extension of ourselves
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Purpelia
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Postby Purpelia » Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:54 am

1. Humans are a product of nature therefore the distinction between natural and artificial is fake.
2. Human kind has effected its own development and that of other species for so long now that in order to find a "natural" human by any definition of the word that makes sense you have to go back to pre-agriculture Africa.
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The above post contains hyperbole, metaphoric language, embellishment and exaggeration. It may also include badly translated figures of speech and misused idioms. Analyze accordingly.

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Joohan
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Postby Joohan » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:03 am

I am wholly against any idea of artificial evolution ( which is simply mans hubris carried over into the extreme ), but I am not opposed to surgeries which would help remedy the ailments of the disabled.

No Dr. Oc arms or chameleon skin though.

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Lost Memories
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Postby Lost Memories » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:56 am

Purpelia wrote:1. Humans are a product of nature therefore the distinction between natural and artificial is fake.
2. Human kind has effected its own development and that of other species for so long now that in order to find a "natural" human by any definition of the word that makes sense you have to go back to pre-agriculture Africa.

Semantics.

Natural can be easily defined as anything changing essential elements over many generations. Something evolving, thus changing, is still natural. Natural doesn't mean unchanging.
Unnatural becomes then anything changing essential elements over one generation.

Genetic engeneering, by direct gene manipulation, is an artificial route to development.
Selective breeding, while still being a forced development in a given direction, is more leaning on the natural side.
Any animal or living being born as if, is fully natural.
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Erythrean Thebes
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Postby Erythrean Thebes » Sat Apr 20, 2019 3:58 pm

Autonomous Cleaner Bot Cleaners wrote:
Erythrean Thebes wrote:What do you think is so controversial about the idea of artificial human evolution...?


It's probably to do with the way the primates, advanced as their knowledge is, are really only beginning to scratch the surface, and the knock on effects of heritable genetic modification in humans is a potentially serious problem. There isn't really "a" gene for any given trait, but rather complex interactions of many genes and traits that produce any particular characteristic. What may be an "improvement" in one area may prove to have unforeseen and serious consequences in others. Anticipating all of these consequences in an organism as complex as a human is a non-trivial matter.

Dunno about bolting robot arms into spines, but it seems like a bad idea. I mean, its a good idea for replacing lost limbs as a matter or restoring normal mobility. But the Spiderman guy? Why not bolt the arms into the fusion reactor assembly instead? The spinal method seems like a waste of a perfectly good robot arm, if you want my honest opinion.

Poor guy was nuts. It was a totally reckless and unethical decision. I heard he was deranged for months before that. Starting scaring his wife with how obsessed he was with perfecting the design. It was just a matter of time probably...

Pope Joan wrote:Spider Robinson wrote a good speculative fiction novel about a future where this had happened, encouraged by selective gene therapy and surgery,

Some people ended up with religious visions and ecstasies, because yes there is a center in the brain for such activities,

Others ended up with links to the cheetah or the bat.

The theory which most appeals to me is that humans no longer evolve individually, We evolve collectively through our technology, which is an extension of ourselves

Yes, this intrigues me a lot. Even the fact that language preserves the cumulative form of all knowledge for access by the next generation is probably a revolutionary technology. But is the impact of, for instance, smart phones and social media the same or as beneficial?

Purpelia wrote:1. Humans are a product of nature therefore the distinction between natural and artificial is fake.
2. Human kind has effected its own development and that of other species for so long now that in order to find a "natural" human by any definition of the word that makes sense you have to go back to pre-agriculture Africa.

Truly

Joohan wrote:I am wholly against any idea of artificial evolution ( which is simply mans hubris carried over into the extreme ), but I am not opposed to surgeries which would help remedy the ailments of the disabled.

No Dr. Oc arms or chameleon skin though.

Would it be so different?
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Socialist Workers Combine
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Postby Socialist Workers Combine » Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:17 pm

Recommend paragraphs

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Bezkoshtovnya
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Postby Bezkoshtovnya » Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:36 pm

Ill take whatever helps me fulfill my dream of being a decker.
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New Legland
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Postby New Legland » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:16 pm

Some of these either seem unrealistic or prone to causing the development of a "master race" if this isn't universal. I'm only in support of this if it's used for mild cosmetic purposes, to improve health, or produce humans that are more adapted to different environments if we ever start colonizing different planets.
Last edited by New Legland on Sat Apr 20, 2019 7:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
eh

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Samudera Darussalam
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Postby Samudera Darussalam » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:51 pm

New Legland wrote:....prone to causing the development of a "master race" if this isn't universal.

It seems so, yes. If I recall, generally major body modification is costly and therefore, people who have lots of money that are able to pay for one. Consequently, it will push a wider gap between the poor and rich, with a new generation of human race that isn't only physically more advanced, but also has a lot of money. It may lead to some.....unwanted side-effects.

New Legland wrote:...I'm only in support of this if it's used for mild cosmetic purposes, to improve health, produce humans that are more adapted to different environments if we ever start colonizing different planets.

I mostly agree, though I've also heard that terraforming is a thing. However, it's probably better if we also help to advance the evolution just in case.....that terraformation doesn't go well. It seems to be off-topic tho.
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