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Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Sat Feb 18 23:27:48 EST 1995

On 19 Feb 1995, Perry E. Metzger wrote:

> >> Drexler's ideas suggest a future of boundless wealth, opportunity and
> >> adventure, not for a few billion, but for trillions. Drexler's science
> >I know of his fantasies.
> Fantasies? I'm afraid that you don't seem to have a rational viewpoint
> here. Drexler's work is, sorry to say for you, a reality. STMs have
> already been used to nanoposition individual atoms. Genetic
> engineering already produces perfect macromolecules to nearly to
> specification.

Err, I know well enough about what has been accomplished within 
nanoengineering and what is desired.  As for genetic engineering, I DO 
that already so I know that stuff first hand.  In any case, there is no 
such thing as perfection in any of our constructions, be they nontech or 
genetically engineered.  My problem is not, be that as it may, with 
nanotech and what it COULD mean.  My problem is the idea of desiring to 
coat the planet with TRILLIONS of people.  Not a chance and NOT 
desireable.  In any case, I even recognize this figure as outrageous and 
never a thing to happen.
> >I would just as soon engineer a virus strain that is aerosol 
> >transmissible, perhaps a hemmorhagic flu, in order to correct the 
> >population bomb downward towards the 2 to 3 billion mark than live in 
> >utter muck with trillions.

Yes, an admittedly outrageous statement on my part and specifically for 
the purpose of baiting.  As it goes, neither I nor anyone else would even 
need to engineer such viruses since they already exist in nature and 
humans get exposed to them as they continue to encroach into erstwhile 
open lands.  Regardless...high population density as you propose, or even 
a mere fraction of that density is nothing short of an incubator of 
epidemic and plague, a fact of evolutionary biology, and technology 
cannot prevent it.  You set up the conditions for a plague, and by damn, 
you'll get one.  THAT is certain, and it wont require evil engineers to 
act as creator.  AIDs is just a poor first taste and it is spread by 
human behavior mixed with a good dose of technologically-provided rapid 
travel and high population density.  I assure you, there is more to come, 
especially if population density goes up significantly and swiftly and 
neither nanotech toys nor molecular biology can prevent it--they can only 
try to react to it.  

> Or are you simply one of those
> disgusting lefty amoralists that thinks that mass murder is okay so
> long as its for the good of the cause -- Pol Pot being one of your
> fellow travelers.

Ah now, there you go, frothing at the mouth.  Of course it is OK to kill 
civilians when the greater cause is served:  In WWII, for instance, we 
(the Allies - who I would ASSUME you would agree were on the side of 
right) bombed the crap out of factories, electrical facilities, dams, 
etc, each leading to suffering for the poor civilians who lived in 
occupied lands AND many of the same were killed as collateral 
casualties.  Is it terrible?  Yes, but it was part of the cost of getting 
the job done.  HAD to be done.
  As our tech gets better, we are able to cut back on the collateral 
damage but it IS unavoidable to some extent and THAT means dead or 
suffering civilians.  Call it part of the cost of allowing (or selecting) 
a government that brings such conflicts into the fore.  The saying IS 
true:  A people only get the government they deserve.  This applies to 
any totalitarian regime just as much as it does to any democracy.  People 
have to LET leaders do what they do, OR they allow a condition to persist 
that brings it about.  In the end, they are partially responsiblw for 
the fate that befalls them.  Harsh but it is reality.  

I happen to be a Desert Storm vet, by the way.  Nasty, unpleasant work 
but infinitely necessary.
> I assure you that were I in the room with you right now, and if I
> thought that you were seriously able to carry out your threat, I would
> have no hesitation whatsoever about killing you in self defense.

This is precious.  You are truly astute at the frothing business.  Let me 
guess, a "Ditto Head" right?    

> --
> "Just another selfish, me first kind of guy."

Obviously.  Sacrifice the OTHER guy...the Republican way (I just couldn't 
help the dig against the greedy me firsters).

We must do this again sometime soon.  It is terribly amusing and makes 
for a humerous diversion.

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