From: The <The@Hermit.net> To: "'firstname.lastname@example.org'" <email@example.com> Subject: Evolution and genetic deficiencies was RE: virus: Re: Technology (was manifest science) Date sent: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 23:14:06 -0500 Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Joe Dees wrote:
> <Big Snip>
> I must come back to the point that there is no will in evolution, thus
> it cannot intend, plan or carry a plan out. Evolution thus is not, in
> the natural world, evolving technology (the Hermit's circuits are a
> different matter). We do all of these (intend, plan, carry out plans)
> in design and manufacture. While evolution has provided us, quite
> unintentionally, with our finite, incarnate, and perspectival
> embodied condition, technology allows us to construct out of our
> external environment material means by which we may augment
> our limited natural ground capacities for perception, action and
> <Another Snip>
> Good answer, Joe. If I might expand, using humans as an example, we have
> a small, but vital amount of DNA that is needed to make us human and a
> lot of DNA that is "junk". All of this DNA can undergo short term
> changes via: mutation; genetic engineering; and sexual reproduction
> (with the consequent mixing of DNA).
> Where large non-beneficial changes occur in the "important" DNA, the
> recipient of those changes will probably: be aborted (as happens with
> most pregnancies - the fertilized egg-cell does not implant), be
> still-born, be horribly disadvantaged physically or mentally - or both,
> die young, be aborted (hopefully), be born sterile and thus not
> propagate that gene. Where small non-beneficial changes happen in the
> important DNA, we may simply have a "deficient" person who would not be
> successful or we get what we call "genetic diseases" and if we were
> animals, we would "breed the gene out". Being human we have not done
> that and suffer from many "genetic diseases" in consequence*.
> Where beneficial changes occur (large or small) in the "important" DNA,
> the recipients tend to live well and have many offspring** which ensures
> that this "helpful" genetic material is passed on into society.
> Ultimately, if a large enough change in DNA (good or bad) spreads to
> enough of a breeding group to swamp out alternate DNA possibilities,
> speciation will occur.
> *Examples are Haemophilia, Down's Syndrome, Achondroplasia, Marfan's
> Syndrome,Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemias, Albinism, Phenylketonuria,
> Tay Sachs Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Huntington's Disease,Cystic
> Fibrosis, Tourette's Syndrome, Turner's Syndrome. A more interesting
> possibility is that we can already detect the vulnerability to heart
> disease, vascular disease and many forms of cancer and will probably be
> able to "splice in" healthy DNA to remove these tendencies within 20 to
> 30 years if people are not so daft as to attempt to prevent this
> **This process is being inverted by modern society where healthy
> sucessful people have fewer or no children. Which leads me to believe
> that in self defence "breeding programs" will be implemented. I would
> suggest that society consider a program along the following lines:
> A voluntary (state-funded) program of registration prior to breeding,
> where your DNA is sampled and if correctable "faults" are detected, you
> have genetic material (sperm or eggs) "filed" for later use and then you
> are sterilized. At any time in the future, you and a partner (also a
> member of this program) should be able to request (state funded)
> implantation of material after the faults are corrected, thereby
> removing these diseases from the DNA pool. If no genetic faults are
> detected, you receive a "clean" card.
> On pregnancy, participants in this program would agree to have (again
> state funded) a full DNA check for Downs, Ancephelitus and other similar
> detectable genetic problems, and to terminate the pregnancy in the event
> of a "problem" being confirmed.
> In exchange for these agreements on the part of prospective parents, the
> state would agree to pay for all reproductive and genetically related
> health costs on the part of the offspring in the event of a problem
> People declining to participate in this program would not be permitted
> access to state funded medical care in the event of a genetically based
> medical problem, and the right for the state or their offspring to sue
> them to recover medical care costs would not be limited.
> This entire program would be paid for by the huge savings in support
> costs for the children who would not be born with genetically caused
> medical problems and the improvements in the health of populations as
> the gene pool recovered from the effects of modern medicine before
> Malthus takes his post-mortem revenge on us all.
> If this program were successful - could the memetic engineers among us
> work out a way to sell it to people who fear both medicine and science?
> - it would have the effect of dramatically reducing defective genes and
> their tragic consequences from the general population within just a few
There is another alternative; the infection of the populace with viruses the sole designed purpose of which is to replace a particular flawed DNA sequence with a healthy one. I believe that we may noneugenically be able to eliminate most of the anomalies you mention by this means. To this end I have invested in a (very speculative) stock called Ariad Pharmaceuticals, which has patented a process by which nucleolus-permeating potential chemical carriers of such viruses may be discovered (they have patented a "trolling " method which discovers which the body is already using for the purpose) without the necessity of granting possibly mutating viruses that a priori power on their own. The stock is presently next to worthless - around a dollar a share - and most likely will not rise to any significant degree any time soon, but as a long-range hold, it is excellent, being an essential technology which shall be required once we are able to reap the fruits of the Genome Project, for it allows us to employ them much more safely.