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Author Topic:   Can we accelerate evolution?
ProtoTypical
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Message 1 of 77 (578071)
08-31-2010 5:11 PM


As we gain the ability to manipulate genes, will we be able to effectively hyper accelerate the evolutionary process? Are we becoming the stewards of our own genome? Are we up to it?
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Message 2 of 77 (578286)
09-01-2010 10:49 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Can we accelerate evolution? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
nwr
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From: Geneva, Illinois
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Message 3 of 77 (578319)
09-01-2010 12:25 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ProtoTypical
08-31-2010 5:11 PM


Gene manipulation would allow us to increase the production of genetic variation. It doesn't help much with the selection part.

Artificial breeding already speeds up selection. However, it seems to me that natural selection is more thorough.

My guess is that we might affect evolution at the margins, but not much. On the other hand, our manipulation of the environment (as in habitat destruction) does speed up some kinds of change.


Jesus was a liberal hippie
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Taq
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Message 4 of 77 (578354)
09-01-2010 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ProtoTypical
08-31-2010 5:11 PM


As we gain the ability to manipulate genes, will we be able to effectively hyper accelerate the evolutionary process? Are we becoming the stewards of our own genome? Are we up to it?

If you are talking about genetic manipulations where genes from one species are transferred into another then I would say that we are bypassing evolution altogether. We are designing organisms at that point.

The tried and true method of speeding up evolution is to expose a population to very strong selection where the number of parents with offspring in the next generation is quite low. This is exactly how we produced the laundry list of dog varieties in a relatively short amount of time.


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ProtoTypical
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From: Ontario Canada
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Message 5 of 77 (578424)
09-01-2010 6:19 PM


So you guys are saying that you dont see the elimination of gene based diseases in the next couple of decades? You dont see stronger hearts or the staving off of dementia? You dont see the development of genetically modified humans who are more suited to space travel?

We are designing organisms at that point.

This is what I am talking about. As we identify the genetic markers for intelligence will we not be irresistibly compelled to utilize this knowledge? Naturally evolved humans are sure to become a relic of the past. It will take some time and will be limited by economics more than ability but the super humans are coming along with the super cows, pigs, sheep and soybeans.

Or are you saying that this is no longer evolution?

Edited by Dogmafood, : add final question


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nwr
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Message 6 of 77 (578442)
09-01-2010 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by ProtoTypical
09-01-2010 6:19 PM


Dogmafood writes:
So you guys are saying that you dont see the elimination of gene based diseases in the next couple of decades?

We might see genetic based treatments for such diseases, but not elimination of the diseases.

Dogmafood writes:
As we identify the genetic markers for intelligence will we not be irresistibly compelled to utilize this knowledge?

I hope not. Eugenics has been tried in the past, and is generally believed to be a bad idea.

Dogmafood writes:
It will take some time and will be limited by economics more than ability but the super humans are coming along with the super cows, pigs, sheep and soybeans.

It is my impression that most results of breeding, whether cows, sheep or soybeans, are a lot less robust than the natural occurring varieties. That is, they are more susceptible to disease, and need more care than their wild varieties.
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jar
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Message 7 of 77 (578450)
09-01-2010 7:14 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by ProtoTypical
09-01-2010 6:19 PM


So you guys are saying that you dont see the elimination of gene based diseases in the next couple of decades?

I see that perhaps some folk might eliminate some genetic disorders, most likely before we really understand the consequences, resulting in even bigger problems.

As we identify the genetic markers for intelligence will we not be irresistibly compelled to utilize this knowledge? Naturally evolved humans are sure to become a relic of the past. It will take some time and will be limited by economics more than ability but the super humans are coming along with the super cows, pigs, sheep and soybeans.

Depends on whether we are really intelligent or not.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 320 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


(1)
Message 8 of 77 (578462)
09-01-2010 7:40 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by ProtoTypical
08-31-2010 5:11 PM


Richie sapiens
Dogmafood writes:

As we gain the ability to manipulate genes, will we be able to effectively hyper accelerate the evolutionary process?

We will effectively hyper-accelerate genomic change. I don't think we can call it evolution at that point. I think we're taking about generations, not decades, before it happens.

Are we becoming the stewards of our own genome?

Yes.

Are we up to it?

What would be the standard? Genetic surgery on germ cells will eliminate most birth defects and inherited disease, though some will still occur de novo. This seems an unblemished good--if it is widely available.

Ultimately, it will be a political decision, and politicans will have difficulty denying genetic cures--and even greater difficulty permitting genetic improvements. But think of abortions: the wealthy were always able to get those discreetly and as safely as their era's medical care permitted.

Perhaps parents will buy genetic insurance for their kids to use as adults, just as parents once commonly bought small burial insurance policies, or we now buy long-term care insurance.

Again, I think we're a few generations from effective practical genome management, but I don't think the gene is going back in the bottle.

I suspect that, at least at first, only the richest, most industrialized nations will be able to offer this genomic service to only their most affluent citizens. Perhaps the poor will sell their sperm and eggs as raw material the way they now sell their kidneys and half-livers. Perhaps being born with a superior mutant allele will be the new Powerball lottery.

Will the rich become a superior subspecies, or even species? We've always lived with the rich getting richer--can we live with them getting better?

That may destabilize the world more than any disparity of wealth. I'd probably be on the barricades if my descendants were being left behind:

Everybody mutates or nobody mutates.

Edited by Omnivorous, : *Add a nod to the original Tupamaro.


Have you ever been to an American wedding? Where's the vodka? Where's the marinated herring?!
-Gogol Bordello
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ProtoTypical
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Posts: 1701
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010
Member Rating: 5.4


Message 9 of 77 (578473)
09-01-2010 8:10 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by jar
09-01-2010 7:14 PM


I see that perhaps some folk might eliminate some genetic disorders, most likely before we really understand the consequences, resulting in even bigger problems.

No faith in our abilities? No faith in the method?


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jar
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Posts: 28437
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 10 of 77 (578478)
09-01-2010 8:19 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by ProtoTypical
09-01-2010 8:10 PM


Very great faith in the evidence.

Historically we have so far never considered the long term effects of our interventions.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
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ProtoTypical
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Posts: 1701
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010
Member Rating: 5.4


Message 11 of 77 (578489)
09-01-2010 8:30 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Omnivorous
09-01-2010 7:40 PM


Re: Richie sapiens
Again, I think we're a few generations from effective practical genome management, but I don't think the gene is going back in the bottle.

Haha. I dont think so either, nor should it. Generations is right. 5 generations is 100 yrs.

Perhaps being born with a superior mutant allele will be the new Powerball lottery.

The possibilities stretch as far as the imagination. But I take your point about it becoming an issue of wealth and I agree.

We've always lived with the rich getting richer--can we live with them getting better?

We are already there. I am sure that the Prime Minister enjoys better health care than I do. Even here in the Great White North! Better health care=better health=better.

Everybody mutates or nobody mutates.

I doubt it.


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Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 320 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 12 of 77 (578558)
09-02-2010 12:00 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by ProtoTypical
09-01-2010 8:30 PM


Re: Richie sapiens
Dogmafood writes:

Omni writes:

Everybody mutates or nobody mutates.

I doubt it.

Yeah, me too.

But I like the original so much--"Everybody dances or nobody dances."--spray painted on an exclusive nightclub trashed by the Tupamaro rebels, that I had to adapt it. And I wouldn't be surprised if something similar is scrawled on a Norm-ghetto wall someday.

In the early 60s a science teacher asked our class if we thought science would be able to change DNA, and if it should. I said of course we would be able to--we always tinker with whatever we can touch, and we always figure out how to touch what we want.

A major sci-fi fan, I was so enthusiastic about genetic engineering, she wondered who would decide what changes to make:

"We'll let computers figure that out," I replied. Heh. I was about 12 then, and everything I learned seemed to make the world bigger and brighter.

All in all, though, I'd rather see us get off this doomed rock than play with ourselves, though they may go hand in hand.


Have you ever been to an American wedding? Where's the vodka? Where's the marinated herring?!
-Gogol Bordello
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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1701
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010
Member Rating: 5.4


Message 13 of 77 (578664)
09-02-2010 8:44 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Omnivorous
09-02-2010 12:00 AM


Re: Richie sapiens
Wealth has long been a measure of fitness for survival. It is the result of applied knowledge. Intelligence and effort are rewarded, usually, with wealth.
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Wounded King
Member (Idle past 1447 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 14 of 77 (578678)
09-02-2010 9:57 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by ProtoTypical
09-02-2010 8:44 AM


Re: Richie sapiens
It is the result of applied knowledge. Intelligence and effort are rewarded, usually, with wealth.

Good one!

Plus like fitness it can be heritable from one generation to the next.

TTFN,

WK


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Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 320 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 15 of 77 (578684)
09-02-2010 10:23 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by ProtoTypical
09-02-2010 8:44 AM


Re: Richie sapiens
I think that's a bit naive, though sexual selection does cover a lot of ground.

Our ancestral fondness for fatty food made sense in hunter-gatherer contexts, too, but today it surely damages sexual fitness.

Intelligence and effort do usually yield some gain.

But we don't see many wealthy scientists or first-class academics in general--upper middle class is about as far as that sort of intelligence and effort will take you, no matter how keen you are.

The truly wealthy for the most part inherit their riches. That leads to political clout which in turn improves their capability to accrue greater wealth. Wealth in the U.S. is concentrated in the top few percent of the population as never before, and the trend is ongoing as the wealthy have the not-wealthy championing their tax cuts, apparently motivated mostly by racial, religious and sexual fears and hatreds.

So political culture trumps the natural selection process that made us what we are, and political hate-mongering trumps self-interest.

Exhibit 1: The Bush family.
Exhibit 2: The inbred royals of Europe.
Exhibit 3: Rush Limbaugh, Kim Il Sung, Glenn Beck.

Ad infinitum: The person who mistakes wealth for reproductive fitness shouldn't be surprised when they beget Paris Hilton.


Have you ever been to an American wedding? Where's the vodka? Where's the marinated herring?!
-Gogol Bordello
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