Friday, December 4, 2015

Nail, Meet Hammer

What exactly can you pursue - personally and societally - with flint stone technology? How hard can it be pushed, what ramifications explored, what versatility can be exploited, and what robustness can be obtained?

Well, with flint stone tech, you get exceptional cutting edges, some very beautiful hand axes, stone knives, spearheads, micro bladed weapons of war, and that's about it. You can't really do much more with stone. Ah, but combine it with braided grasses, sinews, pliable wood, and you get a bow and arrow, which is a game changer - both personally and societal.

I don't really know how old bow and arrow tech is, but I'd hazard close to maybe 200,000 years old. That probably contradicts what most anthropologists and archaeologists surmise, which is at least 71,000 years old.

Now, would anyone, looking at a hand axe, predict a bow and arrow? Probably somebody, not usually likely.

Move on to the laser. When it first came out, predictions were for burning and cutting, death rays maybe, and that's about it. Nobody figured you could use lasers to cool things down to near absolute zero. What? A hot thing that makes things ultra cold? Nonsense! Nobody figured you could use lasers to make diamonds at room temperature. Nobody figured you could you lasers to perform nonlocal quantum witchcraft. And on and on.

So, now CRISPR. And what really is CRISPR? Well, my simplest explanation CRISPR is flint stone tech. It's a cutting edge. It's a cutting edge with a difference. And we I have not the slightest clue as to where it will go.

Already, some silly proposals have been made as to what to do with it. One silly scientist suggests it will be used to prolong human life. What a useless thing to do. You might as well breed for blond hair and blue eyes, to create psychopathic super soldiers.

Already, limitations have been shown to exist in the technology. A recent Chinese effort to genetically modify human embryos ran into some serious obstacles. But, the tech always improves.

Still, if are worried about homo superior, or some horrible pandemic, relax for a bit. We do know that people are concerned enough about the tech they recently had an ethics symposium. And at this ethics symposium use of CRISPR was given a green light.

Sensible. As far as I know, no technology has ever been suppressed, has never been stopped. Even prohibited tech has been pursued clandestinely, so why not pursue it out in the open? It's going to happen anyway, so the best option is to set up protocols.

Worried? Scared? Good! That is sensible too. But don't worry overmuch. Our doomsdays are not coming from the future. Our doomsdays are already here, jostling and competing to be made manifest.

Have a good weekend!

1 comment:

  1. You want a prediction? I'm predicting more than just designer babies. I'll predict people will consciously edit their genome, and/or epi-genome, on the fly, to adapt to conditions and circumstances, as easily as they change their clothes.