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A few thoughts...

Ted Cooper <coopep>

Mon, 7 Oct 1996 22:16:36 -0400

Fellow SF/VR people,

Just a few questions my random mind came up with today in class... thought they might get discussion going!

- If you could copy your entire personality, memories and all, into a computer, and it achieved sentience, would there be two of you? And what if you could copy that copy multiple times, let it explore the net, then re-assimilate all the copies and re-download them to your own head.... you could increase your knowledge immensly in only a matter of seconds by letting your copies multiply, collect info, then use that info and delete them. But would you be killing yourself by deleting them?

That's kind of silly, but here's a better one:

- Should we, when the technology is attained, play with human DNA? What if we simply made modifications so that children would be born without birth defects? Or what if we made people generally smarter and more healthy, eliminated hereditary diseases? These would be entirely beneficial to the human race, but the danger lies in temptation to breed for specific purposes, such as a big strong very dumb person who could only clean up garbage? What if he was bred to ENJOY cleaning garbage??

Please throw in your own questions, but please try to keep them simpler than I have... (sorry about that, but dammit, these are hard to phrase!!)

Ted

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Re: A few thoughts...

Tony Mrazik <mrazia@rpi.edu>

Mon, 07 Oct 1996 23:25:53 -0400

At 10:16 PM 10/7/96 -0400, Ted Cooper wrote:

>- Should we, when the technology is attained, play with human DNA? What if we simply made modifications so that children would be born without birth defects? Or what if we made people generally smarter and more healthy, eliminated hereditary diseases? These would be entirely beneficial to the human race, but the danger lies in temptation to breed for specific purposes, such as a big strong very dumb person who could only clean up garbage? What if he was bred to ENJOY cleaning garbage??

>

Where will the line be drawn as to what is good and what is bad. Maybe somebody will think that there should be no lefties (or righties), or a certain kind of hair color, eye color (I've heard this about someone in the past???), or a certain sexual orientation (I read an article about that a little while back). Who will make the decision as to what is good and what is not?

I think we would be worse off with the capability than without it. Sure it would be nice to get rid of all birth defects, but the temptation to do more would be too great.

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Re: A few thoughts...

"Elenore Victoria Garcia" <garcie@rpi.edu>

Tue, 8 Oct 1996 11:28:05 -0400

Random note,

There was an invention a bit back that was an extra to the automobile that the police were vehemently against. They said it would promote speeding and reckless driving because it would advise the driver of the policeman's presence.

The invention was the rearview mirror.

Most things seem like a bad idea a first.

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Re: A few thoughts...

Agent Webb <webbj>

Fri, 11 Oct 1996 08:42:30 -0400

Ted Cooper reported:

>

> - If you could copy your entire personality, memories and all, into a computer, and it achieved sentience, would there be two of you? And

I don't think so. The difference would be that it would have had the experience of having its essence downloaded into it, while you would have the experience of being the source of the download. Also it would heavily depend on the type of architecture used. If the computer's process mimiced the way the brain actually worked and you were able to do a one-to-one mapping of your brain to the computer's "brain", then maybe, but I doubt that that will be possible.

If that technology were possible, then the computer would be a copy of you for maybe an instant. From that point on, each of you would interact with your environment in different ways and therefore become different entities.

> That's kind of silly, but here's a better one:

>

> - Should we, when the technology is attained, play with human DNA? What =

I don't think that this will become a factor as long as the majority of people adhere to some god worshipping religion. Playing with DNA is a god's business, especially when it comes to engineering humans. If our culture ever gives up the irrational belief in a supreme being, then we will finally be enabled to go far in science (bio science/engineering as well as computer science/engineering).

I would not be surprised if either (or both) computer AI and human engineering were already reality, kept secret by the government so that the masses continue to maintain a fear of god and fear of a nation that rules in the name of god.

...hmm, maybe I do watch the X-Files too much.

-jon webb-

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RE: A few thoughts...

Ted Cooper <coopep>

Fri, 11 Oct 1996 11:19:26 -0400

>From Agent Webb,

I don't think that this will become a factor as long as the majority of people adhere to some god worshipping religion. Playing with DNA is a god's business, especially when it comes to engineering humans. If our culture ever gives up the irrational belief in a supreme being, then we will finally be enabled to go far in science (bio science/engineering as well as computer science/engineering).

I would not be surprised if either (or both) computer AI and human engineering were already reality, kept secret by the government so that the masses continue to maintain a fear of god and fear of a nation that rules in the name of god.

Now I think we come back to a point I brought up in class. Ignoring the questions of God and looking instead as evolution (shall we be scientific and accept evolution for now?) I think human beings will have trouble evolving further. We are no longer a culture which lives by Darwinism (survival of the fittest). Fittness matters very little, as anyone can get married and have kids these days with little fear of disease and starvation (at least in our country). We are keeping even unfit members in society, so weakness is not being bred out of us.

I'm sorry if this sounds crude, but I feel it's true. One possible solution for all this would be to create genetic "patches," bits of DNA code that could be added to current DNA so that children were fairly kind, intelligent, and healthy. These patches would not overwrite personality or looks, just give everyone a boost in the right direction. If the weak aren't going to be eaten by tigers anymore, we must take over where nature left off. And couldn't it be argued that it is our nature to try to improve ourselves and our surroundings? What's the difference between adding DNA code to prevent disease and vaccinating against it??

Ted

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© 1996. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. All rights reserved.
Class web site created Fall 1996 by:
Ted Cooper, Brian Mardirosian, Tony Mrazik, and Sarah Takatani.