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SCIENCE TO THE LIMIT OF POSSIBLE


transhumanismo@sapo.pt

Transhumanism = Scientific current trying to improve Man's Intelligence, and Happiness.
Terça-feira, 2 de Junho de 2009
TO CLEAN … THE GENES OF THE LIVING BEINGS

Rui Barbosa, PhD (U. Grenoble, France), Founder of the First Humanity+ Portuguese Chapter, transhumanismo@sapo.pt.

 

David Pearce, Agnostic, one of the Founders of the World Transhumanist Association (1) says in his Abolitionist Project:
“The Abolitionist Project outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds.
Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human (Note from Rui Barbosa: transhuman) successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.”
Question I made to David Pearce:
- Reading your manifest, I wanted to raise a question: how can Man, as part of the ecosystem, remodel it? Isn’t it a recursive process? And if it is, how can we devise the limits?
-   I can't do full justice to your (excellent) question. However… First, consider, say, an African national park. Should elephants be culled to prevent overpopulation and habitat destruction? Or should we use depot contraception instead (it's more expensive, yes; but hunting is cruel). Thus we're already remodelling local ecosystems.
The kind of world-wide ecosystem redesign I describe - involving rewriting the vertebrate genome and global ecosystem remodelling - is much more ambitious. And as you note, it involves our own species.  So we can't "step outside" the ecosystem we're remodelling.... I think the biggest challenge will come from human population growth.
2nd question to David Pearce:
-         To re-write the Human Genoma would be to write it from zero, thus writing the genoma of something different from Humans… It wouldn’t ameliorate the human condition…
Answer from David Pearce:
- Yes, you are right. When does proofing become editing, editing become rewriting, and rewriting become creating something totally new? I think that we will ultimately become posthuman (note from Rui Barbosa: transhuman) as our entire genome is progressively rewritten. But this rewrite will be a gradual process spanning hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. If you think human nature is fundamentally good, this is a scary prospect. However, the way that members of our species behave - both to each other and members of other species - often makes me ashamed to be human....
Continuing with the Abolitionist Project: “Why does suffering exist? The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment.”
There is an evil unexplained by Science and Religion says that Evil is a mistery, therefore the assertion of David Pearce is limited. 
Pearce goes on: “Their ugliness can be replaced by a new motivational system based entirely on gradients of well-being. Life-long happiness of an intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the heritable norm of mental health. No theological itch should want to destroy it …”
The Transhumanists and other supporters of human genetic engineering accept the dangerousness of the genetic manipulation, “because a high degree of uncertainty about the probable effects of the experiences of the genetic manipulation on humans. However, there are hypothetical ethical solutions (2)(3).     
Wikipedia points out an important religious limit (declaration of the Vatican of 2002 “Communion and Service: people created to the image of God”): “To change the genetic identity of man while human person through the production of an infra-human being would be radically immoral”, implying, as it would, that "Man would have full right to make use of his own biological nature".
We’ll meet again in 15 days…
 
Totality of my chronicles: Transhumanismo Portugal
 
References
(1) “Evil Genes”; Barbara Oakley http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Evil_Genes&oldid=284274669
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism#cite_note-Hughes_2004-23#cite_note-Hughes_2004-23
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism#cite_note-Stock_2002-78#cite_note-Stock_2002-78

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Music: Hymn to Joy by Beethoven

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