Post by Titus G Post by Peter Trei Post by David Johnston Post by Quadibloc
A while back I read an article that played with a suggestion that we might use
CRISPR to modify humanity to make people more ethical and compassionate.
The idea that you can genetically program ethics into people seems a bit
There seems to be a good deal of evidence that human aggression has been
decreasing over time.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood covered docility as follows.
"Gone were its destructive features, the features responsible for the
world’s current illnesses. For instance, racism – or, as they referred
to it in Paradice, pseudospeciation – had been eliminated in the model
group, merely by switching the bonding mechanism: the Paradice people
simply did not register skin colour. Hierarchy could not exist among
them, because they lacked the neural complexes that would have created
it. Since they were neither hunters nor agriculturalists hungry for
land, there was no territoriality: the king-of-the-castle hard-wiring
that had plagued humanity had, in them, been unwired. They ate nothing
but leaves and grass and roots and a berry or two; thus their foods were
plentiful and always available.
Do these organisms have a digestive tract capable of digesting cellulose?
Every known animal that digests cellulose does so by means of symbiotic
bacteria, which needs a place in the digestive for the bacteria to live
and work. It is also possible for an organism to ingest something without
being able to digest it; for example, giant pandas eat mostly bamboo but
cannot digest cellulose and have to subsist on the cell contents, which
is something like chewing up a maple tree for the sap. As a result, pandas
have to eat (and excrete) a tremendous amount of bamboo and the carrying
capacity per acre of bamboo forest is small.
Also, grass has evolved silica granules in its tissues that tend to wear
out the teeth of animals; successful grass-eaters have evolved measures
to handle this. For example, bovines have molars that grow continuously
throughout the animal's lifetime. Elephants have a series of molars that
move into engagement as the previous set wears out, and the life span of
an elephant in the wild is often determined by when its last set of molars
wears out and it can no longer feed. How do the creatures in the story
Their sexuality was not a constant
Post by Titus G
torment to them, not a cloud of turbulent hormones: they came into heat
at regular intervals, as did most mammals other than man.
In fact, as there would never be anything for these people to inherit,
there would be no family trees, no marriages, and no divorces. They were
perfectly adjusted to their habitat, so they would never have to create
houses or tools or weapons, or, for that matter, clothing. They would
have no need to invent any harmful symbolisms, such as kingdoms, icons,
gods, or money." Chapter Paradice.
Do they live in a temperate zone? How do they survive winter, hibernate?
Migrate? Being perfectly adjusted to their habitat would have to include
being adjusted to the other organisms that share that habitat, including
predators. There are many successful strategies used by various animals
to deal with predators. Elephants are simply too big for any present
predators. Bison and many African species migrate so far and so fast
that ambush predators can't keep up with them. As our immediate ancestor
Homo erectus spread across Africa over the last two million years they
already had stone tools and stone-tipped spears, and eighty percent of
the African carnivores went extinct over the same time interval. How do
the creatures in _Oryx and Crake_ handle predators?