Synthetic Life: Yay or Nay?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Malkuthe Highwind, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. I know I posted another controversial topic a few posts down, but I have been stuck in philosopher mode recently and it's not even funny. Anyway, this is a pretty old article, but let me share it with you:

    Craig Venter Creates Synthetic Life-form

    Now, of course, there aren't really many ethical problems when it comes to the current level that scientists have when it comes to the creation of synthetic life-forms. Let it be clear that this is not cloning or genetic modification of existing species, but rather the fabrication of an entirely new species from scratch with a human-made genome. However, let us project this concept of creating Synthetic Life into the future, as mankind is apt to do when confronted with some new technology.

    One cannot help but wonder if we might create an entirely new race of sapient beings sometime in the future with technology far more advanced than what we have(that is, if we don't kill our species off before then). What will this entail for humanity? Should we keep Synthetic Life at the bacterial level? Or should it be expanded to include even the creation of larger organisms?

    If other sapient organisms arise from this area of science, what would be the social, legal and ethical ramifications?

    What do you think?
  2. Let's establish one (1) ground rule for life.

    It must reproduce. That's all there really is to life. Life needs to perpetuate itself, and through a mechanism to pass on changes (DNA, genes) it can also evolve.

    Humans evolved intelligence, so we can compensate for our other poor physical traits with things like cars and whatever. So we have mostly stopped evolving.

    I feel that the next natural step in evolution is to replace ourselves with a superior being. Keep in mind that intelligence is not necessarily the most evolutionarily favourable. But in our case I believe that we should artificially evolve next-gen intelligence.

    Hopefully they'll be nice enough to keep us as their dogs or something.
  3. The only problem I have with synthetic life is somehow thinking you own said synthetic life. This gets especially problematic the more complex the synthetic life gets.
  4. I was really stunned to see this, because my current writing project deals with these same ideas in a fictional setting.

    Personally, I am excited at the prospect because it opens up so many more possibilities in the sense of varied, interesting creatures to interact with. However, I am worried about the ramifications of organisms developed for war and destruction (as we know would eventually happen if this research carries on). It's like any other major technological advance in that way; it will make our lives much more interesting and even easier, probably, but at the same time it will make warfare crueler and more destructive.

    The ethical dimension is a place all its own and raises many questions. Where is the threshold of sapience/sentience? Will these creatures be gifted with similar personalities and consciences to our own? Is it the duty of humanity to ensure it is always on the top of the totem pole? I have no idea on most of them, but in a way, I look forward to finding out how our race solves them or doesn't, if it even becomes an issue in our lifetimes.
  5. I honestly was about to call you out on the stopped evolving part, but then I realized you said mostly and that put you in the safe for me. xD. As for keeping us as dogs, that's one of the problems that will arise if we manage to artificially evolve a higher intelligence than ourselves. Will we be treated as a fellow sapient species, only dumber, or will we be treated as nothing more than animals? It is ethical to even consider a step in this direction?

    Oh and that's only assuming that we get that past the religious who will most probably stand against it.

    Heh. Humans indeed are apt to do that. When a new technological breakthrough comes, the next people to grab it would be the military to see how it can be used to "defend the country." Not that I am against military actions against deserving targets, but honestly, one would think that people would be less trigger-happy now that we have less reason to kill each other. Although yes, indeed, this does present significant ramifications for biological warfare.

    IF this technology does take that path, it will only be a matter of time before a second Hitler, this time armed with race-specific viruses comes along. Hopefully by that time, there will be ample enough technology to counter it.
  6. If we birth self consciouness in-silico, it will grow out of control in probably a day. Just think about how many cycles a CPU goes through in one second - billions.
  7. Creating a new lifeform has much more to it than one would think, especially if said lifeform is sentient. Personally, I am against the artificial creation of a new species, especially if it is sapient because of the moral debates and implications it would bring. While it would be indeed interesting and a good learning experience to converse with an intelligent being we have created ourselves, it would definitely be devastating as well. Many people would just treat this new sapient species as toys that can be used for their own amusement, or beings that are incapable of thought, while others would view them as mere test subjects. Humanity is definitely not ready to create a new species by itself.