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Andreadis at h+ Again

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:

http://hplusmagazine.com/articles/bio/miranda-wrongs-reading-too-much-genome

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.

Sue Lange

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4 thoughts on “Andreadis at h+ Again

  1. Given the schoolyard tantrums that followed the article (“You’re mean!” “I’m telling my mommy!”) I have decided to henceforth call the movement’s adherents “transhumorists”.

  2. All I can say is that once the Singularity hits, the world is going to be a very dour place if the transhumanists are the only ones that make it to the other side.

    Seriously, though, I read through the comments and I was a little disappointed. I thought transhumanists would be the height of intellectualism. And I also assumed intellectuals were prone to look at both sides of an argument. There’s obviously a disconnect in my thinking. If I was interested in fanatacism, I’d hang around fundamentalist sites. At any rate, your rabies line cracked me up and I don’t laugh at much anymore (I guess because I’m a transhumanist at heart.), so thanks for the har-har today.

    Hang in there. I get it, anyway.

  3. Hey, I just realized, I had read the comments on a different h+ article that you commented on. I don’t think I read the comments on this article. People responded to your comments probably the same way they responded to your comments. These people are too serious.

  4. The tantrums on both threads are hilarious… to me, at least! Thank you for the support — but, as you note yourself, there no arguing (or humor) with religious fundamentalists.

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