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Artificial Life Created

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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Postby alextemplet » Tue Nov 27, 2007 4:33 pm

You make a good point, and I certainly don't mean to stamp out our quest for knowledge altogether. I do, however, think we should exercise a great deal more caution when dealing with a force as powerful as life itself. We may, for example, want to get to a point where we understand genetics and mutation a lot better than we do now, so we can have a better idea of what may result and be better prepared to deal with any consequences. We might also want to keep a tight lid on how this new technology is used, in order to prevent any would-be madmen from turning this technology into a weapon of some sort. I'm certainly not trying to say that discovery is a bad thing, but you don't give a kid a driver's license without first teaching him how to drive.
Generally speaking, the more people talk about "being saved," the further away they actually are from true salvation.

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Postby genovese » Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:09 pm

One’s views on the attempts to create life must depend to some extent on one’s views about the planet, life and ourselves in particular.

We have already accepted that our planet is nothing special and is not at the centre of the universe as once thought. Most have accepted that we are not biologically exceptional and that the theory of evolution from a common ancestor is correct. Now we wait to find out if theories such as panspermia, if true, would indicate that life itself is not specific or special to our planet.

Some see life as very special and see the beautiful harmony existing in Nature all around as evidence of life being incompatible without there being a creator. It would be logical for such people to be against the very idea of mankind tinkering with life.

Others see Nature working in a random fashion, with less intelligence than my pet cat, in fact with zero intelligence and only able to produce its apparent marvels through the agency of a brutal, merciless dictator called Natural Selection. For these people, experimenting with life would not pose a great philosophical problem. Those doing the work would most definitely be aware however of the dangers involved.

So we are left with the fear of a science-fiction type catastrophe occurring where a creature is produced for which we have inadequate immunity. However since our immune system has always been able to adapt to new challenges, I find it difficult to believe that 6.7 billion people would be wiped from the face of the earth. Perhaps it could happen by uncontrolled global warming but unlikely with created new life. Our immune system has been here for an awful long time and has coped so far with all pandemics caused by foreign proteins.

And if some creature were to be produced that did remove all of mankind it is very unlikely that it would remove all species of life. Therefore stay cheerful - life will continue - maybe without homo sapiens; but on the greater scale of life and the cosmos - so what?

Remember the first atomic bomb and hydrogen bomb test? No one was 100% sure that a chain reaction wouldn’t engulf the whole planet. I think that test was a much more dangerous risk to have taken than tinkering with life which Nature is doing all the time.

OK, I’ve laid myself open to attack from all sides now so I’ll keep low for a while.
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Postby alextemplet » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:13 pm

How can you be so sure that our immune systems would be able to handle a new threat? Our immune systems are effective against the pathogens that unintelligent natural selection has produced, but how do you know our bodies would be able to defend themselves against a pathogen created by an intelligent man? It would be almost too obvious that if anyone had such an idea, he would no doubt design it to get past the human body's defenses.

Also, how can you speak of the potential deaths of millions with such contempt? If human life really means so little to you, then I would expect you to have committed suicide by now.
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Postby genovese » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:34 pm

Because intelligent humans can only produce life using proteins. There are hundreds of thousands of different proteins and the immune system is there to decipher those possibilities and hasn't yet failed. Of course we know of many other deadly chemical poisons which could destroy much of life, but they are not living entities in themselves, which is the subject under discussion.

I do not have contempt for any person's life, on the contrary I would have thought from what I have said that it is Natural Selection that has contempt for life. I am looking at the broad picture as an observer. How many species still exist since the origin of life? How many have become extinct? What are the chances of Homo sapiens becoming extinct before our planet is vaporized by our dying sun?

I'm just asking questions which people probably don't want to ask.
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Postby MichaelXY » Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:55 pm

Hmm, let's see. The Earth is said to be some 4.5 billion years old. The Cambrian explosion occured some 540 mya, and a mass extinction of many of the Cambrian animals like the Trilobite occured during the permian which is about 240 mya, which is about 300 million years. The Dinosaurs lasted about 180 million years. Now insect have been around for a very long time, but we will discount them here. Taking the avg of the cambrian life forms and the dinosaurs, the life expectancy of a species is roughly 240 million years.
Now depending on which archeologist you talk to, mankind has been around from 100000 years to 2 million. Taking the greater number, mankind still has about 238 million years of existence. Since it is believed that the sun will last another 5 billion years, mankind will not see the death of the sun.
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Postby mith » Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:39 pm

Will the people 3 millions years in the future still be considered "human"?
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Postby woolleyy » Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:10 pm

doubt it! Although, I think there is a lot less evolution occuring in our society, people are now surviving, who in a natural selection scene would certainly not be counted among the "fit".
We need an ice age or something, kickstart evolution again! Roll on global warming!
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Postby MichaelXY » Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:19 pm

Roll on global warming!


So that would make furry people with flippers. Maybe we would call them Flumans.

Man can't belive I said that :roll:
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Postby genovese » Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:44 am

MichaelXY said "the life expectancy of a species is roughly 240 million years."

Did you take trigger-happy politicians into your calculation?javascript:emoticon(':wink:')
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Postby alextemplet » Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:51 am

Our species certainly doesn't seem to obey the same rules as other organisms. We may last a longer or shorter time than other species. I think that if we can prevent killing ourselves, we will eventually colonize other star systems, and then be able to move to new habitats when old habitats die out. In theory, if we can develop space travel, our species can become immortal.
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Postby genovese » Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:41 am

Alex writes "...and then be able to move to new habitats when old habitats die out. In theory, if we can develop space travel, our species can become immortal."

By "old habitats dying out" I presume you are referring to homo sapiens invading and killing off life which happens to get in our way?

And by "become immortal" i think i can detect the selfish-gene at work!
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Postby MichaelXY » Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:09 am

I do not think it is fair to presume to know what Alex means, and to put words in his virtual mouth.
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