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Attitudes to life extension via genetic engineering

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Mon Feb 20 01:08:41 EST 1995

On Mon, 20 Feb 1995, Peter Merel wrote:

> I see nothing in nanotech that is incommensurable with immediate profit. If
> we can easily reclaim and beautify  today's deserts and toxic dumps, do you
> imagine that people will not buy real estate there?

 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
happen.  Nanotech will come when it comes but there wont be any united
push for it nor anything else.  As for drugs to give immunity to
everything...impossible in principle (though very Star-Trekian).  There
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. 
  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.  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).  Besides the fact that
this type of plant - grasses - are piss-poor producers of oxygen, but nice
photorespirers: producers of CO2... but I digress.  Just be circumspect in
what is considered "good." 


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