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Author Topic:   Can we accelerate evolution?
ProtoTypical
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Posts: 1701
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 61 of 77 (615432)
05-12-2011 11:33 PM
Reply to: Message 56 by Alfred Maddenstein
05-12-2011 3:12 PM


That is a wrong question. The theory does not describe any directional process leading from point A to some definite point B.

I agree the theory does not describe a goal. It does describe a process and that process has left a trail. The many directions that the trail has taken can be seen ever more clearly. We are now at a point on the trail where we can begin to directly effect the trails direction. If we can design super brains for our children what will they, in turn, design? Is this not on the way to Nietzsche’s Overman?

The natural selection is not in any hurry in any direction whatsoever so cannot be possibly sped up.

You do not see any direction in the process that evolved a human out of a single cell? Again I am not saying that humans were a goal. They are a result, thus far, of the process. The fact that we are now becoming able to manipulate our genetic code is a result of the process. The fact that the process has resulted in an ability to consciously manipulate ‘itself’ seems to be a very definite point of acceleration. As well as the point where the direction begins to be predictable.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15728
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


(1)
Message 62 of 77 (615436)
05-13-2011 12:20 AM
Reply to: Message 60 by Alfred Maddenstein
05-12-2011 11:18 PM


Ok then, give me an example of such direction. Say a feather was floating south for a minute, a gust of wind blew it north, then the wind changed and carried it south-east. What was the direction the wind was speeding it up in?

When the direction of the feather changed from south to north, it was accelerated in a northerly direction. When it then went southeast it was being accelerated southeast (feathers have a high area/mass ratio, so I'm discounting its momentum).

It seems unless you know where you want the feather to go, you can hardly talk about whether the feather was slowed down or sped up in any particular direction at any turn of the wind.

It is actually possible to determine the position, speed, and acceleration of objects without knowing where I want them to go. This is a shame, otherwise I should have a unique and lucrative job.

The word's definition is directional change. You think it's a good term for that? I don't know. Especially in the singular. When there are so many directions. Change and transformation of species might be better. Even in the title it says origins and not evolution. He used it sometimes but not overwhelmingly like it is used now.

I really don't see the problem. But if there is one, it's probably too late to change the English language now.


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Taq
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Member Rating: 3.8


Message 63 of 77 (615480)
05-13-2011 12:33 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by rueh
05-12-2011 3:52 PM


With natural selection that is true. I think Dogmafood was referring to artificial selection though. Where we can dictate the desired outcome.

Once you introduce direct genetic manipulation it stops being artificial selection.

With artificial selection you are blind to the genetic sequence that underpins the phenotype. This is still recognizable as evolution since this is how it works outside of human influence. It is the disconnect between mutation, function, and fitness that makes evolution a top-down process. When you are directly manipulating the genome it becomes a goal oriented process, a bottom-up process.


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rueh
Member (Idle past 1039 days)
Posts: 382
From: universal city tx
Joined: 03-03-2008


Message 64 of 77 (615492)
05-13-2011 3:22 PM
Reply to: Message 63 by Taq
05-13-2011 12:33 PM


Taq writes:

With artificial selection you are blind to the genetic sequence that underpins the phenotype.

I see your point as to how with artificial selection through selective breeding you are just changing the enviroment and selecting for desired traits as opposed to direct manipulation of gene sequences. Are you not still in effect performing "selection" by determing which genes are manipulated though?


'Qui non intelligit, aut taceat, aut discat'
The mind is like a parachute. It only works when it is open.-FZ
The industrial revolution, flipped a bitch on evolution.-NOFX
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rueh
Member (Idle past 1039 days)
Posts: 382
From: universal city tx
Joined: 03-03-2008


Message 65 of 77 (615494)
05-13-2011 3:29 PM
Reply to: Message 58 by Alfred Maddenstein
05-12-2011 4:28 PM


That, of course, can and has been done in all cases of breeding. Yet no acceleration takes place as the artificial selection introduces the very directional motion first which without it is totally absent. The natural selection is not in any hurry in any direction whatsoever so cannot be possibly sped up.
rueh writes:

Alfred Maddenstein writes:

The theory does not describe any directional process leading from point A to some definite point B. So there could not be any rates of motion applied in its description at all. There is nothing to accelerate towards anything as the process has no goal to reach in any motion at all, if the theory is correct.


With natural selection that is true. I think Dogmafood was referring to artificial selection though. Where we can dictate the desired outcome.

That, of course, can and has been done in all cases of breeding. Yet no acceleration takes place as the artificial selection introduces the very directional motion first which without it is totally absent. The natural selection is not in any hurry in any direction whatsoever so cannot be possibly sped up.

I think that's only true if we consider that evolution by means of natural selection has no desired outcome. It is only selecting for what works best at the time. So than we cannot speed up anything if we do not know where the finish line is. However with artificial selection we can establish our own desired end point and through selective breeding or gene manipulation work to achieve those goals at a faster rate than natural selection could produce on its own. So in essence it is sped up in comparison to the likelihood of the desired outcome arising through natural means.


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Taq
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Posts: 6039
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 66 of 77 (615495)
05-13-2011 3:36 PM
Reply to: Message 64 by rueh
05-13-2011 3:22 PM


Are you not still in effect performing "selection" by determing which genes are manipulated though?

That depends on whether or not you are selecting based on genetic sequence or phenotype. If you are selecting based on phenotype you may very well be selecting a feature that relies on the interaction of several genes instead of just one. For example, cattle breeds were artificially selected for milk and meat production, usually one or the other for any given breed. I really doubt that milk and meat production were determined by a single gene. In fact, many breeds have distinctive features (e.g. dished faces, coloration) that have nothing to do with milk or meat production. These features hitched a ride on the features that were being selected for. For example, breeders did not set out to create a black and white cow. They were selecting for a docile breed that produced a lot of milk. The result was the holstein.


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Alfred Maddenstein
Member (Idle past 1345 days)
Posts: 565
Joined: 04-01-2011


Message 67 of 77 (615528)
05-13-2011 11:08 PM
Reply to: Message 62 by Dr Adequate
05-13-2011 12:20 AM


Dr Adequate writes:

Ok then, give me an example of such direction. Say a feather was floating south for a minute, a gust of wind blew it north, then the wind changed and carried it south-east. What was the direction the wind was speeding it up in?

When the direction of the feather changed from south to north, it was accelerated in a northerly direction. When it then went southeast it was being accelerated southeast (feathers have a high area/mass ratio, so I'm discounting its momentum).

It seems unless you know where you want the feather to go, you can hardly talk about whether the feather was slowed down or sped up in any particular direction at any turn of the wind.

It is actually possible to determine the position, speed, and acceleration of objects without knowing where I want them to go. This is a shame, otherwise I should have a unique and lucrative job.

The word's definition is directional change. You think it's a good term for that? I don't know. Especially in the singular. When there are so many directions. Change and transformation of species might be better. Even in the title it says origins and not evolution. He used it sometimes but not overwhelmingly like it is used now.

I really don't see the problem. But if there is one, it's probably too late to change the English language now.


That is all true what you say about measuring the motion of isolated objects. I reckon that your analogy breaks on closer examination though. Your missed my initial point already because as a breeder you are the first to define what the object in motion is, let alone the direction. Consider it for example growth of a tree. The trunk and crown if taken as a whole may be assumed to move sunwards, yet it is going wider at the same time, branches are growing in all directions, the vectors of that growth are not quite parallel, each leaf is getting wider too.
What is the direction of the growth of a leaf? Even if you roughly define that somehow, the same leaf could be still divided into smaller parts that are growing and you can to consider the direction of each and every part and those directions are far too many again and the closer you look the more complicated it will get since smaller parts instead of just growing may be dividing and getting replaced.
Then if your consider more than one season, the leaves themselves may be falling and new ones appearing to replace them in spring and so on. The directions are way too many to start talking about the rate of acceleration without first isolating some that you might desire to measure.
To talk about a particular direction you need to isolate a particular segment of that growth or consider the tree as a whole, otherwise the vectors may remain ill-defined. The direction of motion of changing life is more like the growth of that tree than the motion of a feather on the wind.
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ProtoTypical
Member
Posts: 1701
From: Ontario Canada
Joined: 08-04-2010


Message 68 of 77 (615600)
05-14-2011 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 64 by rueh
05-13-2011 3:22 PM


Are you not still in effect performing "selection" by determing which genes are manipulated though?

I would say that you are and I would ask; why is it considered artificial? At what point did the actions of man leave the natural realm? I would say that it is more than semantics.

When a lion kills a cheetah cub that is natural selection but when man kills all the malaria bearing mosquitos that is not?


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Trae
Member (Idle past 1684 days)
Posts: 442
From: Fremont, CA, USA
Joined: 06-18-2004


Message 69 of 77 (615735)
05-16-2011 7:05 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by nwr
09-02-2010 3:42 PM


nwr writes:

That's the risk of following the intelligent design way of change. Nature's evolutionary way seems to be more robust.


Is it really though? Look at how many species are extinct. Certainly the entire race being susceptible to the same bug is risky. Though the gene pool would be reduced, I’m not sure that the problem is as big as one might think. You can remove many errors in DNA and I would presume still maintain a fair amount of genetic diversity.
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Taq
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Posts: 6039
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.8


Message 70 of 77 (615757)
05-16-2011 1:20 PM
Reply to: Message 69 by Trae
05-16-2011 7:05 AM


Is it really though? Look at how many species are extinct.

In evolution, every lineage is an experiment. We humans tend to focus on a single species, but the lens of evolution covers a much broader landscape of biodiversity. Nature has the advantage of running billions of interacting experiments in parallel while us humans have to focus in on serial experiments, often in limited environments.

We humans have only begun to tap into Nature's method of solving problems. One of the big movements in drug discovery right now is high throughput. This allows researchers to create random molecules and test thousands of them against the target of interest. Prior to this innovation scientists try to solve the problem with brain power. They would imagine what type of molecule would work best, make that molecule, and then see if it had the desire effect (i.e. rational design). Scientists in these fields are still trying to balance rational design (bottom up design) with evolved design (top down design), but the benefits of high throughput screening of random products can no longer be ignored.


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Trae
Member (Idle past 1684 days)
Posts: 442
From: Fremont, CA, USA
Joined: 06-18-2004


Message 71 of 77 (616051)
05-19-2011 6:07 AM
Reply to: Message 70 by Taq
05-16-2011 1:20 PM


Thanks.

I don’t not think that genetic diversity, when it comes to withstanding bugs, necessarily must get as reduced as implied in this thread. I am assuming the thought here is that if one makes n number of genes the same throughout humanity then obviously we have less diversity. Still, I’m not sure that less diversity in some areas automatically equates to less diversity in disease resistance to germs.

Or to put it more simply, if one takes a fertilized egg and changes a gene, then I assume that specific gene change may not have any direct correlation to being more susceptible to disease germs. Or is this incorrect?

I realize it is an actual potential problem as well as a SciFi trope that we could] either create a genetic weakness to a germ. What I am questioning is the idea that gene therapy must increase germ susceptibility.


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Tanus
Junior Member (Idle past 1969 days)
Posts: 17
Joined: 08-25-2011


Message 72 of 77 (630403)
08-25-2011 2:03 AM


I am beginning a blog on a topic very similar to this. Please check it out:

http://tanus-set.blogspot.com/

Tanus


    
Tanus
Junior Member (Idle past 1969 days)
Posts: 17
Joined: 08-25-2011


Message 73 of 77 (630404)
08-25-2011 2:19 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by Huntard
09-02-2010 10:50 AM


I'd like to respond to the idea of eugenics and all forms of genetic engineering being a bad idea.

All forms of technology, whether fire or stone tools, have the capacity to both harm or help the user. There is no doubt that early attempts at improving the human race met with different sorts of failures and if we continue to try genetic manipulations we will have some pretty spectacular failures, but does that mean that we should give up fire because some people get burned? Should we give up cars because there are crashes? Should we stop speaking because people sometimes say stupid things?

Mistakes are the way we learn and they are the reason that we must keep trying until we learn how to do something.


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Huntard
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Posts: 2854
From: Limburg, The Netherlands
Joined: 09-02-2008


Message 74 of 77 (630407)
08-25-2011 3:51 AM
Reply to: Message 73 by Tanus
08-25-2011 2:19 AM


Hello Tanus, and welcome to EvC!

Tanus writes:

I'd like to respond to the idea of eugenics and all forms of genetic engineering being a bad idea.
All forms of technology, whether fire or stone tools, have the capacity to both harm or help the user. There is no doubt that early attempts at improving the human race met with different sorts of failures and if we continue to try genetic manipulations we will have some pretty spectacular failures, but does that mean that we should give up fire because some people get burned? Should we give up cars because there are crashes? Should we stop speaking because people sometimes say stupid things?

Mistakes are the way we learn and they are the reason that we must keep trying until we learn how to do something.


The conversation I was having with NWR (amongst others), was not regarding the mistakes that could potentially be made while getting to grips with genetic engineering. I think they'd agree with you that not doing something simply because mistakes could be made, is a bad reason not to try something.

Instead, the point being raised was that this genetic engineering might actually hinder our fitness in the long run, because of genetic variation becoming very low within the human population (everyone want s to be immune to cancer, wants to have great stamina, wants to be smart, etc.). And that because of this, it might not be the brightest idea to over-engineer the human genome.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 15728
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.1


Message 75 of 77 (630423)
08-25-2011 5:29 AM
Reply to: Message 73 by Tanus
08-25-2011 2:19 AM


I'd like to respond to the idea of eugenics and all forms of genetic engineering being a bad idea.

All forms of technology, whether fire or stone tools, have the capacity to both harm or help the user. There is no doubt that early attempts at improving the human race met with different sorts of failures and if we continue to try genetic manipulations we will have some pretty spectacular failures, but does that mean that we should give up fire because some people get burned? Should we give up cars because there are crashes? Should we stop speaking because people sometimes say stupid things?

Mistakes are the way we learn and they are the reason that we must keep trying until we learn how to do something.

But eugenics has a kind of special problem.

Back in the 1930s British eugenicists passed out pamphlets urging short-sighted people not to have children. Which is harmless, but will obviously have no effect.

Meanwhile Hitler was gearing up to murder or involuntarily sterilize people, which might be efficacious but has associated ethical difficulties which it is hard to deny.

Now, the problem is that it is very difficult to establish any eugenic program which is effective without also being coercive. If you have any ideas as to how to square this circle, please share them.


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