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Author Topic: Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?  (Read 7619 times)

Offline echochartruse

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Are we mastering our own evolution? Will all life forms be engineered?

Quote from: http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001476.html
Sydney Brenner: Biological Evolution Is An Obsolete Technology

Speaking at the International Congress of Genetics in Melbourne Australia Nobel Prize winner Sydney Brenner says biological evolution is obsolete.

I'm interested in other's thoughts.


 

Offline Geezer

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #1 on: 14/04/2010 00:58:27 »
Well, for a start, it is entirely misleading to describe evolution as a "technology", but, no doubt, the title was intended to appeal to a particular audience.

All he is saying is that we can impart certain characteristics to our progeny through breeding. That's not exactly a new idea. Farmers were doing it long before "technology" was even invented.
 

Offline echochartruse

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #2 on: 14/04/2010 02:17:05 »
Well, for a start, it is entirely misleading to describe evolution as a "technology", but, no doubt, the title was intended to appeal to a particular audience.

All he is saying is that we can impart certain characteristics to our progeny through breeding. That's not exactly a new idea. Farmers were doing it long before "technology" was even invented.

Quote from:  http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001476.html
Then the vast bulk of all genetic changes that get introduced into progeny will be placed there as a result of conscious human intent and not as a result of the occurrence of random mutations.
 

Offline Geezer

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #3 on: 14/04/2010 04:53:28 »
Quote from:  http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001476.html
Then the vast bulk of all genetic changes that get introduced into progeny will be placed there as a result of conscious human intent and not as a result of the occurrence of random mutations.

Right! As I said, that is what farmers do when they breed certain types of animals. There have been extreme cases of it in human history too. For example Tutankhamen only had one grandmother because his parents were brother and sister.
 

Offline echochartruse

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #4 on: 14/04/2010 06:03:52 »
Quote from:  http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001476.html
Then the vast bulk of all genetic changes that get introduced into progeny will be placed there as a result of conscious human intent and not as a result of the occurrence of random mutations.

Right! As I said, that is what farmers do when they breed certain types of animals. There have been extreme cases of it in human history too. For example Tutankhamen only had one grandmother because his parents were brother and sister.

So you are saying that 'the vast bulk of all genetic changes that get introduced into progeny'has always been human initiated, not random?
 

Offline Geezer

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #5 on: 14/04/2010 07:35:43 »

So you are saying that 'the vast bulk of all genetic changes that get introduced into progeny'has always been human initiated, not random?


No - I'm not saying that at all.

Random genetic changes produce certain characteristics. Humans might consider those characteristics desireable and so they pass them on to their progeny. That's what all animals do if they are allowed to. It's natural selection.

The characteristics of some animals have been manipulated by humans to create certain breeds. That might be viewed as unnatural selection. (The ancient Egyptians tried that, but it backfired on them.)

If you don't think natural selection is a powerful mechanism, consider this:

The varied species of animals in Africa are well known. There is (or was) an equivalent varied species of animals in Australia. The Australian and African species are genetically very distant (the Australian species are all marsupials) and yet the two systems managed to parallel each other.

It is not difficult to explain how natural selection would produce this situation.
 

Offline echochartruse

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #6 on: 14/04/2010 08:02:56 »

If you don't think natural selection is a powerful mechanism, consider this:

The varied species of animals in Africa are well known. There is (or was) an equivalent varied species of animals in Australia. The Australian and African species are genetically very distant (the Australian species are all marsupials) and yet the two systems managed to parallel each other.

It is not difficult to explain how natural selection would produce this situation.

Could that be called adaptation due to the different environments? I find similar species across the planet not only in 2 regions.

What are the 'varied and equivelant varied species you spoke about, so I can understand?
 

Offline Geezer

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Offline norcalclimber

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #8 on: 15/04/2010 17:47:03 »
Are we mastering our own evolution? Will all life forms be engineered?

Quote from: http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001476.html
Sydney Brenner: Biological Evolution Is An Obsolete Technology

Speaking at the International Congress of Genetics in Melbourne Australia Nobel Prize winner Sydney Brenner says biological evolution is obsolete.

I'm interested in other's thoughts.

I'm not so sure about "all" life forms, but let us consider just the human population.

With natural selection, traits which are "desirable" will be more successful and those with those traits will have more offspring(a simplistic explanation, I know).  But what "decides" that which is desirable?  In nature, it would be the natural environment primarily, right?

But humans introduce the elements of culture, society, religion, education, and so on.  It seems to me that the technological advancement of humans has largely changed or eliminated many of the factors which were present during most of our evolution. 

Does this mean that humans are now subject to "technological selection" in large part, instead of the purely natural selection which resulted in the evolution of humans to begin with?
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #9 on: 16/04/2010 06:21:34 »
Does this mean that humans are now subject to "technological selection" in large part, instead of the purely natural selection which resulted in the evolution of humans to begin with?

Only if you think humans are unnatural.
 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #10 on: 16/04/2010 06:33:21 »
Does this mean that humans are now subject to "technological selection" in large part, instead of the purely natural selection which resulted in the evolution of humans to begin with?

Only if you think humans are unnatural.

How so? I don't think I'm following you here, please clarify.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #11 on: 16/04/2010 07:13:46 »
Does this mean that humans are now subject to "technological selection" in large part, instead of the purely natural selection which resulted in the evolution of humans to begin with?

Only if you think humans are unnatural.

How so? I don't think I'm following you here, please clarify.

No magic intended. As far as I know, humans are quite natural beings. They select their mates according to factors that we we will not likely be able to determine, just as all beings do.

Their offspring inherit a combined genetic blueprint. That seems quite miraculous to me. We might conceive of even more miraculous mechanisms, but do we accept the most fundamental one, and if we do, why do we need to seek others?
 

Offline norcalclimber

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #12 on: 16/04/2010 17:11:25 »
Does this mean that humans are now subject to "technological selection" in large part, instead of the purely natural selection which resulted in the evolution of humans to begin with?

Only if you think humans are unnatural.

How so? I don't think I'm following you here, please clarify.

No magic intended. As far as I know, humans are quite natural beings. They select their mates according to factors that we we will not likely be able to determine, just as all beings do.

Their offspring inherit a combined genetic blueprint. That seems quite miraculous to me. We might conceive of even more miraculous mechanisms, but do we accept the most fundamental one, and if we do, why do we need to seek others?

I don't think anybody is talking about magic here, my point was that humans no longer mate for same reasons they did for most of our evolution. I am wondering what could be the effects of society playing such a huge part instead of purely physical reasons.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #13 on: 16/04/2010 19:09:27 »
I don't think anybody is talking about magic here, my point was that humans no longer mate for same reasons they did for most of our evolution. I am wondering what could be the effects of society playing such a huge part instead of purely physical reasons.

Humans (and lots of other animals) have lived in complex societies for a very long time. I think there is some evidence that our social activies played an important part in in our evolution in the past. Are things really much different today?
 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #14 on: 16/04/2010 19:50:34 »
I would say that things are vastly different now, then say 30,000 years ago.  Presumably humans have been evolving for far longer than that also.  Things are also different now then just a couple hundred years ago.

For one thing, travel has become far easier. This, combined with enlightenment which has promoted mating across cultures/races/ethnic groups.  There has always been a certain amount of this, but it seems to me that it is far more prevalent now than in the past.  Plus, we have portions of society which function far differently than even 100 years ago, which could effectively "select" in favor of traits which would have been "selected" against a relatively short time ago.  Modern medicine has played it's part as well, allowing people with weak immune systems to survive and reproduce when they would have died prior to the recent advances.  Regions which cannot produce enough food to sustain a population now can receive international help, when in the past they would have had to migrate or die.

The list goes on, but simply put; Yes, I do feel that the selection modern humans have exposed themselves to is very different from the selection present for millions of years at the minimum which resulted in humans.
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #15 on: 16/04/2010 22:18:47 »
We certainly have dramatically altered the environment in which we live, but I don't think the processes by which humans select mates have really changed much at all. Would that have to change to produce a significant evolutionary change?


 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #16 on: 16/04/2010 22:45:54 »
We certainly have dramatically altered the environment in which we live, but I don't think the processes by which humans select mates have really changed much at all. Would that have to change to produce a significant evolutionary change?




I'm not so sure about that, many people choose their mates now based on common interests.  For some people that may be hiking, music, art, etc.  For some people that may be drugs, alcohol, or sexual preferences.  I am not passing any judgment whatsoever, other than to categorize them into separate groups which could be considered positive or negative to different people.  Technology has allowed freedom to individuals to pursue specific interests which were not nearly as available throughout most of evolution.  Some of those choices would have been selected against in pre-technology times. 

Survival of the fittest has now been expanded to include many groups which would simply put not be as fit in pre-technology times.  Travel has expanded the available gene pool to virtually the entire planet.  Surely, over a very long period of time, these factors will lead to evolution which may not be very beneficial for a purely "natural" existence? 

Look at domesticated animals, doesn't survival back in the wild become more difficult after enough time going down the branch of evolution which humans determined for them?

With the majority of the populations living in urban settings, won't that eventually have an effect?
 

Offline Geezer

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« Reply #17 on: 16/04/2010 23:08:03 »
We certainly have dramatically altered the environment in which we live, but I don't think the processes by which humans select mates have really changed much at all. Would that have to change to produce a significant evolutionary change?




I'm not so sure about that, many people choose their mates now based on common interests.  For some people that may be hiking, music, art, etc.  For some people that may be drugs, alcohol, or sexual preferences.  I am not passing any judgment whatsoever, other than to categorize them into separate groups which could be considered positive or negative to different people.  Technology has allowed freedom to individuals to pursue specific interests which were not nearly as available throughout most of evolution.  Some of those choices would have been selected against in pre-technology times. 

Survival of the fittest has now been expanded to include many groups which would simply put not be as fit in pre-technology times.  Travel has expanded the available gene pool to virtually the entire planet.  Surely, over a very long period of time, these factors will lead to evolution which may not be very beneficial for a purely "natural" existence? 

Look at domesticated animals, doesn't survival back in the wild become more difficult after enough time going down the branch of evolution which humans determined for them?

With the majority of the populations living in urban settings, won't that eventually have an effect?

I suppose it must have an effect. To some extent I think that greater genetic mixing will tend to slow evolution rather than accelerate it. Smaller populations are more likely to pass on a mutation - I think.

However, I think many of the factors that go into mate selection are based on rather primitive human traits. We think we are using our minds, but I don't think we have the degree of control that we like to think we have.

Ultimately though, we might change quite a lot. It might be good if we got a lot smaller. We would not take up so much space and use so much stuff!
 

Offline norcalclimber

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« Reply #18 on: 16/04/2010 23:14:01 »
We certainly have dramatically altered the environment in which we live, but I don't think the processes by which humans select mates have really changed much at all. Would that have to change to produce a significant evolutionary change?




I'm not so sure about that, many people choose their mates now based on common interests.  For some people that may be hiking, music, art, etc.  For some people that may be drugs, alcohol, or sexual preferences.  I am not passing any judgment whatsoever, other than to categorize them into separate groups which could be considered positive or negative to different people.  Technology has allowed freedom to individuals to pursue specific interests which were not nearly as available throughout most of evolution.  Some of those choices would have been selected against in pre-technology times. 

Survival of the fittest has now been expanded to include many groups which would simply put not be as fit in pre-technology times.  Travel has expanded the available gene pool to virtually the entire planet.  Surely, over a very long period of time, these factors will lead to evolution which may not be very beneficial for a purely "natural" existence? 

Look at domesticated animals, doesn't survival back in the wild become more difficult after enough time going down the branch of evolution which humans determined for them?

With the majority of the populations living in urban settings, won't that eventually have an effect?

I suppose it must have an effect. To some extent I think that greater genetic mixing will tend to slow evolution rather than accelerate it. Smaller populations are more likely to pass on a mutation - I think.

However, I think many of the factors that go into mate selection are based on rather primitive human traits. We think we are using our minds, but I don't think we have the degree of control that we like to think we have.

Ultimately though, we might change quite a lot. It might be good if we got a lot smaller. We would not take up so much space and use so much stuff!

I agree that a lot of the same factors go into mate selection are the same, but I feel that the genetic pool which is available for an individual to choose from may now include traits which would have been deleterious historically.  I think most people tend to fall in love with someone they know.
 

Offline echochartruse

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Is Biological Evolution An Obsolete Technology ?
« Reply #19 on: 25/04/2010 01:47:35 »
Doesn't everything have an equal or opposite reactions?

Everything we do, the way we we live in our environment and effect others, doesn't all that have a part in our evolution?
after all doesn't evolution happen over a vast period of time and couldn't evolution be the varying stages we decide to live throughout that time also?

Should we really be considering removing genes from populations or genetic lines just because of inherited disease? should we be adding genes or modifying life at all?

Sorry I have too many questions



 

Offline grizelda

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« Reply #20 on: 26/04/2010 22:18:13 »
The long time frame for human generation makes it almost impossible to breed them successfully. The only organizations that really have that capability are the religions, which outlast our political or social organizations. All religions do eugenics, they breed their adherents to be supportive of and subservient to the administration. This selective breeding eventually results in populations unfit for anything but religious wars of extinction, showing that evolution can protect itself from this kind of modulation. The godless religion of political correctness encourages letting religions do eugenics (it does it too) so the balls can remain in the air until a few religions get nuclear weapons. The laws of nature cannot be broken, wish fulfillment only works in dreams.
« Last Edit: 26/04/2010 22:20:08 by grizelda »
 

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