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Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering

Rick Abrams ricka at praline.no.NeoSoft.com
Wed Mar 1 21:52:07 EST 1995

In reference to the 'tram' story below, I remember a similar one about
a rural Tennesee family. Seems a television salesman was going 
door-to-door trying to sell tv's in the 1950's. When he described
it as a picture that moves, a 'little old lady' rose up declaring 
'people should stay home and listen to the radio like God intended.'

In article <pete.794060337 at extro>, Peter Merel  <pete at extro.su.oz.au> wrote:
>Patrick O'Neil <patrick at corona> writes:
>> If there is profit to be made in a technology, then it develops but...you
>>and others like to call for, essentially, what amounts to a Trinity
>>Project of investment with specific goals in mind.  THAT is where it wont
>I've never called for such a thing, nor do I believe that it would be
>sensible to do so. Nanotech will come like other engineering, from
>private sector investment in profitable development projects.
>>As for drugs to give immunity to
>>everything...impossible in principle (though very Star-Trekian).  
>I begin to understand why you think that Drexler is a fantasist. I've suggested
>a fairly simple and concrete idea in encrypting the human genome; implementing 
>it will no doubt be fraught with technical difficulty, but perhaps your skills
>could be useful in identifying such difficulties. However, dismissing the idea
>out of hand as a fantasy is neither useful nor rational.
>>really ARE limits to what technology can do.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy
>>using my technologies:  nice kevlar skis, a fast computer for working on
>>and playing really cool games, VCRs, microwaves, strong fabrics, etc.  But
>>I also recognize that technology is not the Grail that will bring all the
>>world to paradise.  Technologies that offer benefits ALWAYS are
>>accompanied by costs of varying pains.  Some costs are ignored until it is
>>too late, others, being unpredicted (and unpredictable) are forced upon us
>>to deal with at the last minute; and the treatment always itself brings a
>>cost.  Just don't get all rosy-eyed and expect the universe. 
>My grandfather used to tell a story about a family of peasant farmers coming
>down out of the hills to visit his hometown in Austria about 75 years ago. They
>saw one of the first electric trams in operation there; they went around the
>front of it, and they went around the back of it, and they said "Nothing is
>pushing it, and nothing is pulling it ... it must be devil's work!"
>>  To make a comment on your above statement:  the deserts do not NEED to
>>be reclaimed.  Reclaimed to what?  Deserts are ecologies with perfectly
>>adapted species in their own right and have been here since before the
>>dinosaurs.  They ain't broke.  
>Never heard of the Sahara or the Gobi?  Those are _man-made_ deserts.
>They're the result of thousands of years of poor agricultural
>practices. Most of the continent I live on is one big man-made desert -
>before the arrival of the man and the dog, central Australia was a huge
>inland sea, with a fantastic variety of flourishing flora and fauna; a
>minimal desert ecology has evolved in its place, but for the most part it 
>is now nothing but flat dry red earth. Men destroyed it - why shouldn't
>men recreate it?
>>There ARE areas that were once plains or
>>forest that are now arid as a direct result of human activity
>>(overgrazing, over-cutting, over-tapping of water supplies, downright
>>STUPID farming practices) and could use a little reclaimation, but
>>hopefully not ONLY so people will buy real estate there to build houses
>>and cities on.  It would be nice to protect some of it in untouched form. 
>>Matchbox houses on matchbox plots tend to really dick up habitats, plus
>>the grassy lawns everyone insists upon are the worst water wastes on the
>>planet (in places where water is not plentiful).  
>Just about everywhere in your hemisphere has been cleared of forest and
>turned into farms and towns. The untouched forests in my hemisphere are
>being woodchipped as fast as the bulldozers can go. Humans are all over
>the place, cultivating, stripping and building.
>Imho, we have two ways to go from here. One way is down into a pit of
>constant resource scarcity, ignorance, war, famine and suffering; the
>other way is up into a world of peace and riches, control of resources
>all over the solar system, boundless innovation and experience beyond
>our wildest imagination. Star Trek seems a dull and stagnant fantasy
>beside this prospect.
>There is no third path that I can see.  If you can describe concrete
>objections to the technologies that have been proposed, then please
>explain them. Not "we shouldn't" or "it'll never" or "it's devil's
>work", but real engineering problems. Stop waving your hands and tell
>us what the problems are - then your skepticism will be healthy. 
>Internet:pete at extro.su.oz.au           |         Accept Everything.            |
>http://www.usyd.edu.au/~pete           |         Reject Nothing.               |


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