Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Premonitory Outpourings

"When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software. Why do we not react in the same way to a defective man: a murderer, say, or a rapist? Why don't we laugh at a judge who punishes a criminal? Isn't the murderer or the rapist just a machine with a defective component? Or a defective upbringing? Defective education? Defective genes?"

"When people realize that cloning is just forgoing a genetically mixed child for a twin of one parent, and is not the resurrection of the soul or a source of replacement organs, no one will want to do it. Likewise, when they realize that most genes have costs as well as benefits (they may raise a child's IQ but also predispose him to genetic disease), "designer babies" will lose whatever appeal they have."

"Wouldn't it sadden us immensely if we were to discover that there is a vanishing small probability that life will arise even once in any given galaxy. Being alone in this solar system will not be such a such a shock, but alone in the galaxy, or worse alone in the universe would, I think, drive us to despair, and back towards religion as our salve."

"It will inevitably be revealed that there are strong genetic components associated with most aspects of what we attribute to human existence including personality subtypes, language capabilities, mechanical abilities, intelligence, sexual activities and preferences, intuitive thinking, quality of memory, will power, temperament, athletic abilities, etc. We will find unique manifestations of human activity linked to genetics associated with isolated and/or inbred populations. The danger rests with what we already know: that we are not all created equal."

From top: Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Rodney Brooks, Craig Venter.

More crystal-gazing here, courtesy Edge.

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