Sunday, November 07, 2004

Biotechnology: Reprogramming Evolution

We wear the same body and brains as Cro-Magnon humans did. The same people who rubbed sticks together for fire, driven by hunger to the hunt, worked with tools of bone and stone, bedding down in huts of skin and branches. But this 40,000 year old piece of soft clay is about to become it's own sculptor. This is not just a turning point in history. It's also the fulcrum upon which technology balances our very evolution..

For billions of years, evolution virtually restricted the transfer of DNA to members of the same species through sexual reproduction. But through Biotechnology, virtually any trait found in nature can be, in principle, wantonly transferred across species. That means you can take DNA from any organism, transfer it to another and new creatures emerge.

For Example:

- Sheep with human brains and other organs.
Google Search
- The glow from the firefly has been inserted into tobacco plants making them glow in the dark.
or Google Search
- A human embryo cloned using a cell from a man's leg and a cow's ovum lived and developed for twelve days until it was terminated.
or Google Search
- Goats bred with a spider gene produce milk which is processed to make "BioSteel".. The US military has set up their own goat farm to make bulletproof vests, aerospace and medical supplies.
or Google Search
- Extended Life Spans
or Google Search
As of January 2008, Human/Animal Hybrid Embryos have gone mainstream.

The Case for Human Evolution Through Technology

Through Human intervention over thousands of years, modern dogs from toy poodles, greyhounds, pit bulls, great danes - all of them - descended from wolves. With the decoding of the human genome, (and in a dramatically shorter time), a far richer variation of humans beings is equally as possible.

But Will We?

Will we, as a species begin to evolve ourselves on purpose? Tummy tucks, breast implants, competitive steroid drugs and gender selection foreshadow the pent up demand for personal selection over natural selection. Cro Magnon is poised to become stronger, faster, and smarter, with a vastly extended life span. Some WILL elect to become entirely new creatures.

DNA Computing

Evolution has harnessed DNA to reliably store the programming instructions for every known biological cell since the first. In 1994, Leonard Adleman proved that we too could use DNA to compute.

Because DNA can replicate itself, it can work on a problem as it replicates with each new strand crunching the numbers. Very quickly DNA can perform collosal computational feats. A DNA computer about this size could hold 10 terabytes of data more than enough to store everything you look at for a year and perform 10 trillion calculations at the same time. By comparison, the Human brain is capable of roughly 100 trillion calculations per second.

What's Next?

Evolutionary intelligence has brought forth human intelligence. The very brain assembled through evolutionary forces now seeks to create it's own rival. The computer will soon become smarter than it's maker. It's only a matter of time.

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