The effect of genetic gerentology treatments on society.

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by tetra, Feb 28, 2001.

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What do you think about genetic gerontology/alteration?

Poll closed Mar 10, 2001.
  1. It will be the greatest achievment of mankind

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  2. Science is the work of Satan

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. We will all go crazy

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  4. WTF is gerontology!?

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. tetra Hello Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    144
    Most likely, unless we all killourselves in the coming decades, we will be able to fully manipulate our current genetic structure. Yes, this is totally possible. The only reason you dont crumble into a heap of biomass every year is because there are DNA repair mechanisms in the body, which <b>ALTER</b> and <b>INSERT</b> genes into the existing DNA. Once we find these, we will have to do a whole lot of hard thinking, and then we will probably want to change our own genes for the better (or worse). The DNA repair mechanisms, although extremley accurate arent 100% accurate, so you will eventually grow old ond die. This is due to the fact the the DNA repair mechanism themselves age, and become less accurate. Thus, in order to extend our age or alter genes, we have to be able to modify these mechanisms.
    An easy way to increase out age would be to make repair mechanisms for the repair mechanisms. This could be done with nanomachines / synthetic organisms. The result, in my view, would be immortality of the body (not mind). That means, that as long as you dont get hit by a car or something, you will survive to comitt suicide.

    Instead of people dying right after they master their trade, people will be able make enormous advances it is in whatever it is that they do. This of course will have enourmous consequences on society.

    Partly because I am tired of typing, and partly to arouse intrest in this topic, I stop here. Please make your own conclusions and post them, because this IS going to happen whether you like it or not.
     
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  3. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    The sooner the better.

    I'm hoping this will happen in my lifetime otherwise I'll have to undergo cryogenic vitrification and wait in suspension.

    But I really don't want to have an unlimited lifetime as a biological entity. Such a form is too fragile and subject to accidents, disease, atmosphere changes, variations in gravity (problems with survival on other planets, with different gravity), etc. But also all the mess of eating, drinking, exchanging bodily fluids (sex), and the expulsion of waste matter, ah yuck, what an atrocious design.

    I see genetic manipulation as only a short term (for the next 100 years max) solution to increasing life spans until we can replace our fragile and inferior biological forms with more advanced robotic shells. Technological augmentation will allow us to prepare for the final phase of making the transition from a biological brain to a more resilient computer based substrate.

    From then on we will have no need to breathe, eat, or defecate. And will have little difficulty existing in other environments commonly seen as hazardous to humans, e.g. poisoned atmospheres, no atmospheres, heavy or light gravity, vacuums, etc. Also having an electronic brain allows for backups so even in the event of an accident one could still be resurrected from the last backup – effective immortality.

    This is probably not what you intended, but this is where it took me.

    Have fun
    Cris
     
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  5. Eisen95 Registered Member

    Messages:
    9
    Although there are many people who beleive genetic engineering will be a holy grail and a cure for all our wows. I'm sorry to say it won' t.

    I like everyone are tempted by the possibilities genetic engineering can offer us, virutal immortality, abolition of disease. But this goes against the law of nature. We have to stop thinking of ourselves as seperate from nature because we are not we are all part of the planet with every organism acting out its role. Somewhere along the lines we went wrong we invented materialism and war. All of these traits go against natural law and are responsible for all the stresses soceity feels today.

    Evolution takes millions of years of selection. Not half and hour in a petri dish with a bunch of restriction enzymes. Genetic engineering and GM foods are the biggest threat humanity faces. By using genetic engineering we are seeking perfection. The only problem is that we destroy everything about us that makes us human. We have to learn to accept with what we are born with and fullfill our potential. For better or for worse we are still human.
     
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  7. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

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    4,127
    Evolution takes millions of years because it is essentially an uninformed process. Mutation is random and consequently it usually takes a long time to generate meaningful change.

    Humans now are at a point where we can directly interact with the functions that define ourselves. And, for the most part, humans are intelligent. This intelligence means that we can direct genetic change in an informed manner. If you have any belief in science (or humanity) I think you will agree that overall an informed process will have a higher success rate than a random uninformed process.

    And please explain how evolution is <B>not</b> the quest for perfection.
     
  8. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,127
    I should also add that what makes us "human" is largely a result of socialization, not biology (that's not to say society itself isn't selected against, because it is). We're genetically pretty similar to humans of 50,000 years ago, but I doubt you would claim them to have any "human" qualities. And any primitive "humanity" these creatures did have can generally be found in other animals (eg. elephants return to 'gravesites') and is thus not particular to humans.

    There's nothing stopping us from socializing a computer as a human, nor is there anything stopping us from socializing a genetic mutant as a human.
     
  9. Eisen95 Registered Member

    Messages:
    9
    Progress does not always mean happiness. Science is science all knowledge is of value. It is how science is implemented that effects pur lives. The decoding of the Human Genome will probably be the seen as the most important discovery of the 21st century. But like the discovery of the atom it can be abused. Ethnic bombs may become a reality.
    It should be used with caution understanding our genes is a step closer to understanding ourselves. From that drugs which are geneticly tailored can benefit us help us lead healthier lives. Somatic cell therapy promises to cure sufferers of genetic disorders, without passing engineered genes to the next generation. Whereas germ line therapy, where foreign dna is inserted directly into the single zygote threatens future generations as it cannot be reversed. This truly is playing god and will upset the balance of nature and will this lead us to a better life.
    Should humanitys problems be solved in the petridish.
    If we remove our flaws will we be anylonger human.
    Evolution acheives perfection by variety, Genetic engineering seeks to acheive perfection by selecting certain desirable elements from none. By advancing genetic engineering you remove these undesirable elements from the gene pool. Suppose one day the new "super-race" is threatened by a new plague somthing it cannot protect against because it has contanimated the gene pool and the bio-diversity.
    If you have seen the film Gattaca, this is where people will be descriminated on the basis of their genes. The unengineered humans or "faith children" became an underclass and descriminated against by the genetically engineered elite. But the story also teaches that there is no gene for fate. Even the lowest human on this planet has the potential to rise to the top, whether having the right genes or not.
     
  10. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,127
    Firstly, references to movies or fiction of any sort do not count as a valid argument. That's all I will say to that.

    But of course, your concern over genetic variation is certainly a valid point. We have learnt that uniformity of a genome is generally not a good thing. But, there is no reason to suspect that the goal of genetic engineering is uniformity. Of all people in society, geneticists are probably more able to appreciate the need for diversity than anyone else.

    Genetic engineering is becoming progressively easier to achieve. At some point, it may become trivial. In general as a procedural knowledge becomes more readily accessible and comprehensible through abstraction, more precise control is afforded. And not only is the control more precise, it is more prolific. So while we certainly have a greater potential to screw up, and screw up in a huge way, we also have the same incredible power to correct and learn from these mistakes. It is a double-edged knife. But we're humans, not monkeys.
     
  11. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,188
    Just a minor point.

    Since when has evolution achieved perfection? Ever seen anyone wearing eyeglasses. Have you ever had a tooth filled? Did you know that most people in the western world do not have any of their own teeth (you wouldn’t know because most people do not advertise their false teeth). It is one of the most dreadful failures of the human form.

    We stand to gain more by directing genetic changes rather than waiting a few millions years and hoping randomness does the right thing.

    Cris
     
  12. Eisen95 Registered Member

    Messages:
    9
    Firstly the fact that people loose there teeth is not determined by their genes, but by their diet. A healthy lifestyle is a proven way to increase health, strength, intelligence and emotional well being. People continue to abuse their bodies in this faction by poor diet, drugs and alchol. Genetic engineering cannot stop this.
    Secondly i was using science-fiction to illustrate a point and science-fiction has already accurately predicted rocketry, satalites and men on the moon.
    Genetic discrimination is fast becoming a reality. Insurance companies intend to in the future use your genetic blueprint, to determine how much insurance you have to pay. I think its fair to say that descrimination exists in society based on gender and ethnic background. People will start to descriminate people on grounds of their genes.
    I am not opposed to all genetic engineering just principly germ line engineering. It is possible by transfering geneticly engineered stem cells into your body, these would provide the desired effect. Heamophilacs would no longer carry symptoms, People would not need to have glasses. But more importantly these geneticly engineered cells are not reproductive cells, they will eventually die and cannot be passed to the next generation. As regards to what Porify says we cannot change our mistakes this way. Once the genes are released through reproduction there is no turning back. Thus geneticaly modified foods are just as dangerous these contaminate the natural planet as they cannot be adequetly controled. Besides we have we enough food to feed the planet more than once over. It is only the global inequalities that lead to food shortages.
     
  13. Doc Brown Registered Member

    Messages:
    20
    The people 50,000 years ago were just like hunter-gatherer tribes that exist today. I'm not sure why you think they didn't have any morality. If you think they were immoral because they were pre-Cro-Magnon, then let me tell you this: the idea that art and the like appeared with Cro-Magnon about 35,000 years ago is entirely due to a Eurocentric bias. There has been art found in Australia that is 100,000 years old.

    If you think morality is all environmental, please explain why apes do not have the same morality that we do.

    If it's neither of the two that makes you think people were immoral 50,000 years ago, please tell me the reason.
     
  14. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,127
    Doc,

    The date of 50,000 years ago was arbitrary. You can draw the line anywhere you want. At some point, we declare our ancestors to be "non-human". At this point, their inhumanity is more a consequence of an insufficiently developed brain and social structure than of biology. Certainly brain size is a function of genetics, but it is an emergent property that is not a function of any particular set of genes, but rather it is a function of an organism's entire genome. There are no "humanity" genes that we can <A HREF="http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert2001609090301.gif">splice out</A>. About all that we can do to return to inhumanity is to shrink our brain or socialize ourselves in an inhuman manner.

    Again, I'll mention that morality isn't a sufficient defintion of humanity, which is why I've avoided using that term. Animals demonstrate a sense of morality, though they (presumably) lack the ability to reason about it.

    Similarily, symbolic thought (as demonstrated by artistic creations) isn't sufficient to claim that this creature had the ability to reason about morality. Most children can reason symbolically from a very early age, but they certainly don't develop ability to reason about morality until later.
     
  15. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,127
    Eisen95,

    Why not? Everything social ill has some biological root -- and these vices especially. Genetic engineering can make people more resilient to poor nutrition (ie. more capable of using scarce resources). Technology is what drives social change. Society on its own is quite content to not deal with problems.

    In Star Trek they freely use genetic engineering and their society is utopian. Thus by the inductive law of science fictional truth I prove that genetic engineering leads to utopia. QED.

    And why not? What is wrong with that? Insurance companies discriminate based on statistical realities. If I'm likely to die of cancer because I've got a nonfunctional DNA repair enzyme, why should I be insured? If I've crashed my car 10 times last year why should I be insured? If I'm a young male, why shouldn't I pay 10x the insurance for my sports car?

    Honestly now, the insurance industry is a strange socialist concept that has somehow become an artifact of the capitalist world. They don't really make sense. If you're so offended that people will treat you based on your intrinsic worth (both biological and social), then leave this society now because it will not make you happy!!!

    eh?

    If it is easy to modify the genome one way, it is easy to reverse those changes.

    Clearly if you screw up a somatic cell's DNA, you wait untill your mutant dies off and try to forget the whole thing ever happened.

    If you screw up a germ line cell and your patient starts pushing out babies, you simply treat everyone with a reversion treatment. After all, it's easy to play with DNA. If it's easy to do it, it's easy to fix.
     
  16. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Not to meddle in a debate where I don't have much professional authority, but...

    First of all, what is this worry that deliberately mutating the germ cells we introduce irreversible changes? Porfiry's solution aside, isn't that what happens naturally anyway? Mutations happen, whether we engage in genetic engineering or not. So why is it that deliberate mutations must somehow be any less benign than accidental ones? Especially when the deliberate ones at least attempt to achieve a positive result.

    Secondly, where is reason behind the claims that humanity is perfection? What is the rationale for suggesting that we are perfect as we are, and that any fundamental change makes us anything <u>less</u>? Would you tell your descendants 1,000,000,000 years from now (if they still exist by then) that they are less perfect than you are? Would a mollusk claim superiority of perfection over a human? And what is this notion of Perfection, anyway? What makes one sentient being more perfect than another? The flaws?!?
     
  17. Eisen95 Registered Member

    Messages:
    9
    It is not easy to fix, firstly the embryo's will probably die before they are born and secondly the babies born won't live very long either. Somatic cell therapy won't cure these people with what you like to call reversion therapy(where do you get this terminology from?) It will help though and their will be a lot of genetisists sued for screwing up their lives and possibly their children.
    You cannot convert fat into protein your genes won't solve that our eating habbits will. There is an abundance of food in this world our farmers are going bust because they produce too much food. The people who need it are in developing world but should genetic engineering take place. Where do you think its gonna be the developed world or the developing world?
     
  18. Boris Senior Member Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Funny thing... Just recently I've read that fat has been successfully converted into cartilage. Cartilage, protein -- what's the difference?

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    'sides, you don't sue your parents for giving birth to you, do you? Even if you are born all screwed up. So why should you sue geneticists that did something to your genome under your parents' consent?

    Then again, hopefully by the time genetic engineering is applied to humans, we'll know exactly what we're doing. Leave experimentation to other lab animals...
     
  19. Porfiry Nomad Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,127
    Of course not! They'll be dead!
    You can however, reverse the change in the parents such that they can have viable children in the future.

    Eating disorders are often functions of genetics. And of course you can turn fat into protein. Pull out any first-year biology textbook and you'll realize that there are a HUGE number of different metabolic pathways that link lipids (fats), proteins, and nucleotides.


    err... that's a social problem. You cannot criticize the technology for the social environment in which it was produced. Antibiotics are in a similar position given that they are often very expensive. Developing nations always get the cheapest (and least effective) medical treatments, but that's an entirely different issue.
     
  20. HEMMERICH Registered Member

    Messages:
    1
    How about the most important parts of our beings that is the soul and spirit which come from God that is breathin our body which is activated from conception "birth our giving life and finally death isnt that the good Lord will for the whole human thing .
    We may tamper with our physical well being to make life better for us all but dont forget what the most important parts of our being and that is our spirit which we all live by and giving to our bodies .
    yes I dont have any thing against science or progress we'll have to know where to draw the line of mortal and immortal .
     
  21. tetra Hello Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    144
    It's all in the chemicals.

    Everybody dies sometime, so the line already exists.

    Unless you find a way to avoid that time when everything at the universe is at absolute-zero....
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2001
  22. tetra Hello Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    144
    So, what do you think people's initial reaction will be to some sort of extreme longevity treatment?
     
  23. Lotus Registered Member

    Messages:
    1
    Response to tooth decay not genetic

    In fact, the propensity for tooth decay and now gum disease has been very much shown to have a genetic basis. Obviously how we care for the teeth makes a difference, but that's not the whole story.
     

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