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?
on the first point, no - if you can successfully manipulate genes then effectively you step outside evolution. Amusingly enough, once we can modify the genetic code of living lifeforms (or their descendants which adds up to the same thing) then truly we will be in an age of "intelligent design", only the designer will be us.
It won't stop evolution from occuring, but it will mean that for specifically chosen life-forms, evolution will not be the driver for the survival and attributes of the species.
Are we becoming stewards of our own genome? Well potentially yes. If we allow genetic manipulation (and, if it is possible, it will happen - if it is made illegal it will be happen anyway) then that is exactly what we will be.
Will we be up to it? Well now you're stepping into the realm of a post-singularity world, capable of solving so many of todays issues that we can't even relate. We may yet live to see it. I suspect that if we aren't now, we will be then.
I disagree. Genetic manipulation is evolution; it isn't evolution by natural selection.
well, the first definition of evolution I found is
quote:Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of new species.
If you take natural selection out of that equation, I don't think it's evolution any more - at least not as it has been. I'm not trying to be a pedant, you do have a point, I just don't agree.
Do you believe that pollution created by humans is evolution? The peppered moth that turned from white to black is labeled as evolution. This situation was a response to its polluted environment by humans.
In the case of the moth, the mutation was all natural - the changed environment wasn't, but the fact that a natural mutation suddenly found a niche because of a changed environment (whatever changed the environment) is not the same as having some very intelligent hominids come along and splice in a fish gene or two because it makes the offspring glow in the dark.
One happened naturally - the impetus you can argue wasn't, but the change itself was.
The other not only didn't happen naturally, but never would happen naturally.
You're walking a fine line between the two with animal husbandry and horticulture, but whilst the outcome may similar, the methods are entirely different.
I believe - and yes, it's my opinion here - that direct genetic manipulation isn't evolution, at least not as we know it. indirect genetic mutation is a grey area - the mutations are natural but there is non-random selection by an intelligent interloper. I'm not sure whether to call that sort of genetic engineering "evolution" or not. I'm tempted to say it isn't - by my stance on direct genetic manipulation, it shouldn't be and I should at the very least be consistent.
What I am concerned about is by labeling the moth as evolution even though it fits the criteria, it was still a reaction to pollution. Evolution in its definition is a non directed process and no entity of life is responsible for its actions or the reactions it produces in other entities of life.
All evolution is a reaction to something, that much I can state with surety. Let's take this another way - say a meteor hits the planet and blasts up dust which coats the environment where the moths live with dust. Result - the moths' habitat is now "polluted" and darker-coloured moths are favoured by this new situation.
The selection pressure comes from the environment and the result is the same. I find it hard-put to say in this hypothetical case that one is evolution but the other isn't because the mechanism (the hypothetically dirty environment) is the lever both times.
On the other hand, it's clear that genetic splicing of genes which never were in the moth's lineage is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Until now, can humans really afford to use this as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility in the environmental damage that is obviously affecting the rate of evolution in many species.
life impacts the environment *shrug* you can't avoid it. Even the much-lauded american indians did major damage to their local ecosystem, which hippy-dippy tree-huggers don't often realise. There is no way that life can exist without changing things. A few billion years ago, life itself caused the biggest most lethal ecological disaster which has ever threatened this planet, and it was lethal to almost all life on earth at the time.
The level of oxygen in the atmosphere grew high enough that this highly toxic, poisonous gas wiped out nearly all life on the face of the planet! What a scourge! The planet has never been the same since, and the levels of that toxic, highly-reactive gas have never fallen. What a disaster!
call it what you what but we are directly responsible for our actions (because we evolved that way) and we are directly creating chemical reactions that is radiating throughout the planet affecting all species of life.
This planet will outlast us, by billions of years. Nothing you or anyone else could ever do could, at this point, change that.
What we can do is make life on this planet impossible for us and those we love, and those things we need and love - that is the only crime and it will be our only punishment. If we kill ourselves by fouling the nest that will be it. Just silence for the forseeable future. The great experiment of mind may be over for good.
The universe won't care, the planet won't care. We won't either because we'll be dead. I'd rather like to avoid that, and it's a fascinating topic but it's not relevant to this thread.
Genetic manipulation requires strict ethical guidelines in that science accepts full financial responsibility and can reverse the affects it will create from it. Seriously, This whole genetic manipulation is dangerous to all life. You might think you know a lot about the intricate details of life but until science resolves the issues of origin, the whole story of life's history may be false.
reversing things - you can't ever put the genie back in the bottle. The last time we had such a genie was about 60 years ago, a weapon so fierce that it made direct confrontation impossible. Genetic manipulation though is old hat - we've been doing it for millenia and i seriously doubt we could ever stop.
And origins? No, the search for the origin of life has nothing to do with whether we should be allowed to "force" evolution or even replace it.
I fear this is getting off topic, I may not reply - please start a new thread if you wish to continue, or email me.