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Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:09 am
by aardvark_admin
This column is archived at: http://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2014/1202.shtml

Just because we may develop the technology involved in creating totally new forms of life doesn't mean we ought to use that power -- does it?

What would totally synthetic life, made in the lab mean to religion as we know it?

Would the risks that may be associated with such organisms outweigh the possible benefits to be had?

Could synthetic life be the saviour or the destroyer of mankind's future on this planet?

Shall we roll the dice?

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:28 am
by Logan Savage
aardvark_admin wrote:Of course the mere thought that we could build an organism from scratch must strike fear into the heart of those who believe there is only one God and that only God can be the "creator" of life.
Why must it? "You keep using using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." ;) Perhaps instead of pontificating on what you assume people you obviously don't understand "must" think, you could try asking them?

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:59 am
by hagfish
I suppose some people have a rigid, fundamentalist, young-Earth-style belief-system, but I like to think that most people who espouse a faith are a little more sophisticated. The thought of lab-created 'life' makes me pretty nervous, but not because it challenges my world view.

I'm quite happy for us to release GMOs and novel life-forms into the wild, however FIRST I would us to prove ourselves by controlling PSA, varroa, malaria, and cancer. So far, we can't even control possums and rabbits.

If we could use some kind of gene therapy to 'correct' disadvantageous mutations in our DNA, that could be very handy indeed. 'Perfect' vision, teeth, and internal organs would be a great start to life. However if these changes don't flow through to the next generation via normal reproduction, we would have to keep using the magic elixir forever. If not - and we lost the tech - the subsequent generation would be a mass of drooling munters.

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:16 am
by latewings
Its the unintended consequences that irk me, especially the likes of Monsanto (et al) busy altering genomes for <finger quote>disease resistance</finger quote> when we all know it's all about control and profit.

Mummy Nature has had a very long time to sort out an equilibrium that we're busy trying to tilt in our favour. That boat rocking might create a ripple that becomes a wave that turns around and swamps us. To throw another metaphor into this; we need to tread carefully towards the goal of improving genomes of ourselves and our food.

If all due care and control is taken, no big deal. We may very well find the utopia that is curing cancer, diabetes, trisomy 21 and all the other environmental and genetic afflictions we face before we become worm food. Or we could be opening Pandora's box.

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 11:27 am
by phill
all the really religious i know dont care whats done .. it only happens because " god wants it to "

makes it really difficult to try to motivate them to do things that need to be done but thats another story

as for us constantly risking total destruction
its like a bumper in a pinball game so far it has always come off in a safe ( ish ) direction .. one day it may not
but thats the nature of human inquisitiveness, naivety and stupidity we cant help ourselves when it comes to finding out .... what happens if ...

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 12:13 pm
by Screw
Am I a God? Of course! Every time I go into a room people say, "Oh My God!". So that proves it! ;)

I don't agree with GMO's because they are having an effect far into the future. An exciting view is the growing of replacement organs using the patient's own stem cells, that has real possibilities!

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:41 pm
by Logan Savage
I'm guessing it was a slow news day today, because this column Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)
just seems to be a rewarmed version of Are we gods yet? (13 Mar 2013), and has more than a passing resemblance to Are we aliens? (10 Aug 2011).

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:06 pm
by phill
woohoo a dumpster diver .. well done they are always useful for finding stuff

but
er whats your point

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:54 pm
by Muzza
aardvark_admin wrote: What if the organism had some unforeseen side-effect?

What if it mutated "in the wild" and became too good at sequestering carbon, effectively staving the rest of the planet's plant-life of the CO2 it needs in order to survive?

What if, through some natural evolutionary change, it became poisonous -- perhaps as a survival mechanism that would protect it from its greatest threat -- us.


What if it doesn't taste very nice? :shock:

Re: Are we to become gods? (2 Dec, 2014)

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 4:50 pm
by Anaru
aardvark_admin wrote:Just because we may develop the technology involved in creating totally new forms of life doesn't mean we ought to use that power -- does it?


Perhaps.

aardvark_admin wrote:What would totally synthetic life, made in the lab mean to religion as we know it?


A lot of religions rely on obscure historical stories or mere myth or metaphor to explain things, or catch-all's like someone mentioned above such as "it's gods' will".

aardvark_admin wrote:Would the risks that may be associated with such organisms outweigh the possible benefits to be had?


I think this is one of those things where you can't really develop a risk reward ratio because the reward is that you don't know how great or little the reward or rewards will be from developing the understanding and capabilities involved. It's a bit of a merry go round philosophically because we can't be sure what is possible (with either good or bad consequences) unless we explore.

aardvark_admin wrote:Could synthetic life be the saviour or the destroyer of mankind's future on this planet?


Personally I have reservations but only because of the intellectual property dilemmas.

aardvark_admin wrote:Shall we roll the dice?


Sure. Better to read about relatively credible people progressing this work rather than hearing that some obscure lab in the middle of North Korea or Iran has developed something.