Parent categories: BiodiversityBioengineeringBiotechnology.

Human self-modification

How to edit our own genome to phenotype, and should we?

YAML Interest

It is easy to modify our phenotype just by having a plastic surgery, and it doesn't affect the genetics of all of our offspring. Changing genome, on the other hand, is a much more consequential in that regard. On the other hand, it is also a fact that each of us is an owner of their body, and can practically privately try to do to their bodies whatever they please.

The differentiation of species could potentially lead to the diversity of humans on a par and greater than the diversity of dogs. This category is both for the "how" and the "why" of low-to-high level self-modification.

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Answering [skihappy]'s concerns from another topic, namely:

// Modifying genome will affect only the next generation, not the individual, but his offspring. What kinda motivation would we have to do that to our children? I'd guess, to produce slaves, highly specialized for some tasks. //

I think self-modification would actually increase the bio-diversity, a bit like sex has increased the biodiversity, and really, increase the competition between variants, leading to new wave of evolution. However, with these technologies, where being born of one phenotype would not mean staying with it, the evolution could happen not by death of variants, but by death of certain traits by replacing them with new ones -- continual morphing.

// Another scenario is rich people enhancing their children with super senses, creating a master race. How about creating a warrior subspecies of humans? Are you ready to fight them? //

Superhumans wouldn't be a problem, if society had rules and social norms that govern certain abilities, just like there are rules for the blind people, there could be rules for those with the vision of an eagle or an owl. I frankly would love to have the vision of an owl, as I could see the Andromeda galaxy in its full glory without a long-exposure. Why not? At the rate that these technologies are progressing (consider CRISPR), it's likely that they will be widely available, not just for the rich people.

Having a gun today is more dangerous than any "warrior subspecies", and guns are generally regulated in most countries. However, I agree that there should be limits set though -- it may be that certain characteristic are not socially acceptable.

There's definitely limits to the diversity of species that modern society would be ready and willing to deal with.

// It's like software that can modify its own code. Maybe by some rules at first, but then those rules will be subject to change. It's just too confusing. Also, how would you deal with unfortunate, but inevitable mistakes. Woops, we just created a species in f monstrous phycopaths, for ever to deal with. Good luck. //

Good point. Perhaps the features of self-modification would have to be publicly known and legal-coded, and there would have to be both legal and illegal features to acquire through self-modification. For example, it may be illegal to grow very large muscles meanwhile destabilizing certain cognitive functions, etc.

Even if it's the future, I'm not a fan. There's no possible way to create oversight and rules about such a thing. The scariest part is dealing with irreversible mistakes. Every one of those genetic mods will be an irreversible experiment, with some individuals having to deal with consequences. Imagine trying to fit in when there's no one like you, besides knowing your misery came from someone specific, someone you know. Imagine being that person and having to confront your mistake. The range of moral issues is beyond me. I'd rather get off the subject. I'm sure it's coming tho. What I'm saying, this will destroy any notion of morality, as it evolved thru human history. What storm will hit us is unpredictable. I'm not ready.

    :  -- 
    : Mindey, 尹与及
    :  -- 


// Imagine trying to fit in when there's no one like you... //

But two identical people are rare, everyone is already different... And we already can't change the mating decisions of our ancestors. If we understand and deal with genomes like we deal with code and software engineering, there's going to be many ways to ensure that constraints are satisfied.

I favor the idea of collective engineering of offspring rather than the idea that only traditional two parents mate and then produce offspring like Marvin Minsky's explains.