This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Harvey Fineberg: Are we ready for neo-evolution?

Harvey Fineberg: Are we ready for neo-evolution? - Comments

mrchrismurray's Avatar Comment 1 by mrchrismurray

Thanks for the link, Great talk. TED is a great way to waste a lazy easter week in work!

Chris.

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 08:21:50 UTC | #620179

Cestriana's Avatar Comment 2 by Cestriana

Yes, thanks for posting this fantastic talk. The topic is really thought-provoking and Harvey Fineberg is an excellent speaker.

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 09:30:35 UTC | #620189

Scoundrel's Avatar Comment 3 by Scoundrel

its probably offense provoking if you are one of those crazy nutters who prefer not to think.

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 11:16:03 UTC | #620207

Sample's Avatar Comment 4 by Sample

Wasn't it interesting that of the categories polled right at the beginning, Fitness apparently received the fewest votes? losing to: Creativity, Memory and overwhelmingly, Longevity. Fitness, for me, is the most definitionally encompassing trait to be able to wish for, but... I wasn't asked.

Ironically, I much preferred the content of the Ted Talk also alluded to at the beginning: Kathryn Schulz's, On Being Wrong

Mike

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 12:46:34 UTC | #620228

helena!'s Avatar Comment 5 by helena!

Fantastic video thanks for posting here. More like this please. I often wonder where human evolution is headed and I was very satisfied with the answers proposed here. Harvey is indeed an awesome and enthusiastic speaker. If there were this sort of format with lectures and talks at churches every Sunday to go and listen to I'd go religiously. My brain is always hungry for good quality information.

"Good Ol' Charlie Darwin" A bit off topic but has anyone checked out this site?

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 15:30:30 UTC | #620278

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 6 by Rob Schneider

He speaks of "neo-Evolution" as the modification of ones genes to eliminate diabetes, cancer, alzheimers, etc. But this isn't passed on or preserved to subsequent generations, so it isn't really evolution, is it?

Gene Therapy... yes.

Wait... there we go... 15 minutes in he gets to intergenerational modifications... never mind. :-)

R

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 16:44:40 UTC | #620296

John_Geeshu's Avatar Comment 7 by John_Geeshu

Why wouldn't the modified genes be passed on?

Comment 6 by Rob Schneider :

He speaks of "neo-Evolution" as the modification of ones genes to eliminate diabetes, cancer, alzheimers, etc. But this isn't passed on or preserved to subsequent generations, so it isn't really evolution, is it?

Gene Therapy... yes.

Wait... there we go... 15 minutes in he gets to intergenerational modifications... never mind. :-)

R

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 18:01:18 UTC | #620318

John_Geeshu's Avatar Comment 8 by John_Geeshu

Quality versus quantity. I prefer quality myself.

Comment 4 by Sample :

Wasn't it interesting that of the categories polled right at the beginning, Fitness apparently received the fewest votes? losing to: Creativity, Memory and overwhelmingly, Longevity. Fitness, for me, is the most definitionally encompassing trait to be able to wish for, but... I wasn't asked.

Mike

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 18:02:10 UTC | #620319

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 9 by alaskansee

@ sample and Helena

We're going to evolve into humans specifically designed for our location; Sample is going to develop greater fitness for his mountain lifestyle whereas city dwellers will evolve greater creativity and memory for their urban jungle.

Randomly of course.

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 18:10:43 UTC | #620321

Luke_B's Avatar Comment 10 by Luke_B

Brilliant. I haven't been over to the TED site for a while so cheers for the tip-off. Really enjoyed that. And thanks to Sample as well. The Kathryn Schulz talk was great too. I particularly liked this quote:

'The miracle of your mind isn't that it sees the world as it is, but that it sees that world as it isn't.'

Thu, 28 Apr 2011 19:54:19 UTC | #620361

k_docks's Avatar Comment 11 by k_docks

Reading the comments below the video confirms my thoughts that this is just another name for Neo-Nazism - eliminate all that do not fit or conform the ideals of the rich and famous.

I choose all five - memory, fitness, beauty, longevity and talent. God offers ALL five to ALL people without side-effects. I choose Gods plan not evolutions 'we can save ourselves' ideology!

Fri, 29 Apr 2011 00:27:21 UTC | #620456

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 11 by k_docks

I choose all five - memory, fitness, beauty, longevity and talent. God offers ALL five to ALL people without side-effects. I choose Gods plan not evolutions 'we can save ourselves' ideology!

Without side effects ?? Are you aware that a little side effect called smallpox......a nasty little critter God threw in for the fun of it.....killed more people than all the wars in history ? In the past 3000 years it has ruined the memory, fitness, beauty, longevity, and talent....of some 500 million people.

And it was mankind ( specifically the application of science ) that got rid of the disease...not God.

Would you like to know where you can shove God's wonderful plan ?

Fri, 29 Apr 2011 08:03:51 UTC | #620540

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 13 by phil rimmer

I'm a keen transhumanist, if thats the term. There is so much to fix....BUT what and how we fix it is critically important. A key concern is fixing things with insufficient knowledge of future outcomes, without, for instance, appreciating the extent of emergent properties in the unrevised phenotype in a society at large.

Simon Baron Cohen asked the very clever question, if we could engineer out schizophrenia, should we? A would-be parent with a family history of schizophrenia might be very keen to do so, but what are the risks? It may just be that the presence of genes variously associated with schizophrenia are the genes that underwrote the greater part of the fourth ape's disproportionate creativity. If every diligent parent "saved" their children from the risk of schizophrenia we may "save" the planet from ever having great scientists, engineers, writers, artists, comics, problem solvers ever again.

Should we engineer out a tendency towards religion? Tempting but.... Engineer out autism? No more awkward Aspie social gaffes for me. But whilst mirror neurons may facilitate excellent meme copying and thereby generate a rich culture, invention may lie in the hands of those not in thrall to such cultural diligence. Successful cultural evolution demands just the right amount of "copying but with change" . The optimum level depends on societal resources. Limited resources demands less change as room for error is reduced. More resources means more can be risked with the potential of big wins. But who decides such a balance if the genetic engineering for mirror neuron count (say) is a personal choice. Should society make an error, how do we fix it without becoming a freedom denying facist state? There are risks when undesirable traits are merely the extreme expression of otherwise desirable ones.

My preferred way forward with many of these areas is to not use genetic engineering directly but to engineer drugs to enable specific gene expressions to be modulated ad lib. I know a very creative (occasional) schizophrenic who has a very responsible, demanding job. In taking his anti-psychotics (also subtley modulated by nicotine) he can, by conscious decision, choose where he needs to be on the creative diligent/responsible axis. I am extremely jealous of this capability.

I would dearly love a better memory as my current one appears to be wearing out. Yet I have to admit that my levels of invention at work seem to be increasing. I am not sure, but it seems that by not having immediate access to earlier solutions I resolve a problem numerous times, stopping when I achieve a truly memorable solution. Remembering poorer solutions with great facility may short circuit the more fruitful approach of starting from scratch again. Human memories are necessarily partial, categorising, stereotyping acts of data compression that do most of the job of future narrative creation. Having a "better" memory is not at all a clear cut thing.

I'm not entirely sold on a genetically engineered me. A brain control panel accessible to my brain, or rather an extension of that which already exists naturally, would rather be my wish, of course, with the dials going up to eleven.

Fri, 29 Apr 2011 11:09:45 UTC | #620583

John_Geeshu's Avatar Comment 14 by John_Geeshu

Phil,

I think the subject is obviously so speculative that the only way it is worth discussing presently is to assume that if you could engineer your genome to make yourself and your offspring fitter, would you? That's as far as it can be taken, seems to me.

Fri, 29 Apr 2011 13:19:12 UTC | #620620

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 15 by phil rimmer

Comment 14 by John_Geeshu

I think the subject is obviously so speculative that the only way it is worth discussing presently is to assume that if you could engineer your genome to make yourself and your offspring fitter, would you? That's as far as it can be taken, seems to me.

Nah! I signed up for genetic engineering to "improve the stock" a decade ago when people first credibly spoke of these things. We are closing quite rapidly on "doing something". We need to have our scientific and ethical ducks in a row now. Fortunately our understanding of neuropsychology, genetic disorders etc. is mushrooming with cheap gene sequencing and fMRI. People like Ramachandran, Damasio and Baron Cohen are filling in some of the needful gaps. What is missing most at the moment is some moderately informed public debate. Its quite OK to work out some general principles from hypotheticals like the above.

Fri, 29 Apr 2011 15:02:58 UTC | #620657