Will we engineer our own downfall?

Jon

Administrator
Staff member
#1
The rate of progress in gene technology (anyone have the right term for this?) suggests to me we will inevitably create our own unique lifeforms. In fact, it could be argued that just modifying our own genes means this is happening already.

However, what happens when things go astray? Could we create something that takes us down? We talk about artificial intelligence being a danger. Well, what about a biological form of artificial intelligence, where we have engineered super-intelligence, a huge brain, nasty octopus like legs and a venomous sting? I am sure there are plenty of malicious people out there who would be happy to create such an organism.

Are we on the verge of breakthroughs in science that will ultimately kill us all?
 

The_Doc_Man

Founding Member
#2
Genetic engineering has already created genetically modified organisms in the plant kingdom. Take a look at various grain-based snacks that tout "Non-GMO" as one of their merits. These GMO life forms are examples of playing around with genetic code. In other threads we have discussed two issues related to this process: The engineering admonition of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and the more philosophical "Idle hands are the devil's workshop" thread.

Many people have protested many times already regarding whether GMOs are a threat. I honestly don't know enough about that level of biochemistry to talk about the actual process, but the result is easier to understand. If you can identify a particular detrimental gene and replace it with a benign one, or if you can identify a particularly desirable gene and use it to replace a neutral one, the net result should be good - but the problem is that since we don't fully understand the genetic code's functioning at that level, we don't know if that replacement has side-effects. And it is the side effects that are the bete noir of this process. The catch is that we won't know about the side effects until the genetic engineering has already occurred.

Therefore, in directly answer to your question, I must reply: A distinct "Maybe." :confused:
 
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