Serious watchers of the Singularity should probably check out h+ magazine: http://hplusmagazine.com at some point.
My favorite Singularity watcher, Athena Andreadis, posted there recently on the subject of the human genome, one of the three pillars of the Singularity (the other two are robotics and nanotech).
Upshot: We’re not robots yet.
Here’s the link and some highlights:
“When the sequence of the human genome was declared essentially complete in 2003, all biologists (except perhaps Craig Venter) heaved a sigh of gladness that the data were all on one website, publicly available, well-annotated and carefully cross-linked.”
“…there are no genes for virtue, intelligence, happiness or any complex behavioral trait.”
“Genes encode catalytic, structural and regulatory proteins and RNAs. They do not encode the nervous system; even less do they encode complex behavior.”
“…second-generation immigrants invariably display the body morphology and disease susceptibilities of their adopted culture, although they have inherited the genes of their natal one.”
“The “selfish gene” concept as presented by reductionists of all stripes is arrant nonsense.”
“The concept that pressing the button of a single gene can change any complex behavior is entirely unsupported by biological evidence at any scale: genomic, molecular, cellular, organismic.”
“Unlike a car or a computer, brain hardware and software are inextricably intertwined and cannot be decoupled or deactivated during modification.”
And her wrapup in toto:
“And no matter how benevolent the motives of the proponents of such schemes are, all utopian implementations, without exception, degenerate into slaughterhouses and concentration camps.
The proposals to augment “virtue” or “intelligence” fall solidly into the linear progress model advanced by monotheistic religions, which takes for granted that humans are in a fallen state and need to achieve an idealized perfection. For the religiously orthodox, this exemplar is a god; for the transhumanists, it’s often a post-singularity AI. In reality, humans are a work in continuous evolution both biologically and culturally and will almost certainly become extinct if they enter any type of stasis, no matter how “perfect.”
But higher level arguments aside, the foundation stone of all such discussions remains unaltered and unalterable: any proposal to modulate complex traits by changing single genes is like preparing a Mars expedition based on the Ptolemaic view of the universe.”
Thanks, Dr. Andreadis. Our humanity is secure.