Genetic engineering, genetic modification, and genetic editing of human beings - the theoretical upsides (and maybe downsides) of such a thing

mr.moon1488

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Genetic engineering? I've got mixed feelings on that one.

Sterilization of problematic individuals and groups? Fully support.
 

Penis Drager

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One thing I don't see explored often enough is the fact that, once widely adopted, human genetic engineering will make race practically irrelevant.
All of the associations between race and IQ, criminality, agreeableness, etc. will pale in comparison to the variation we can install in human beings through biotech. None of it will matter. Fears of white genocide, Jewish exploitation, negrotization of the first world and all the other things racists are so fixated on will be a forgotten episode in history. The same is true about "white privilege," systemic racism, and all the shit socjus types go on about.
In the words of Nick Land:
When seen from the bionic horizon, whatever emerges from the dialectics of racial terror remains trapped in trivialities. It’s time to move on.
 

Parallel Moon

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I would be 100% for this, given that it would be available to everyone. Think of all the problems we could solve.

The SJWs would whine, of course. As well as the fundie types. But to me the pros outweigh the cons.
 

Lemmingwise

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The SJWs would whine, of course. As well as the fundie types. But to me the pros outweigh the cons.
But now we can genetically engineer everyone to be a disabled autistic genderqueer transgender woman of color
 

Puff

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I'm just here for the catgirls. Also whoever starts genetically modifying for health, intelligence, and strength first is the world superpower for at least a bit. There will be horrific unintended consequences in the transition period, but we need to go ahead and get it out of the way.
 

Drain Todger

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You want Khan, OP? Because this is how you get Khan.


There are a number of problems with gene editing, but also a number of things that may be quite beneficial about it.

Pros:
  • Eliminate genetic variations associated with congenital diseases. Fatal Familial Insomnia? Sickle Cell Anemia? Harlequin Ichthyosis? Nobody wants that shit. We could edit it out of the genome, permanently.
  • I'm sure just about anyone would love to be born with enhanced intelligence, lifespan, muscle recovery, resistance to disease, and so forth. All of these things are possible, in theory.
Cons:
  • Not really all that effective on adult organisms. Once all the cells have already proliferated, people are mostly stuck with what they've got. It's like changing the blueprints for a house that's already built. That said, cells do slowly regenerate over time, and certain edits may actually work out.
  • Germline edits have the potential to have unforeseen consequences many generations down the line. A widespread edit that renders people infertile, for example, is an extinction-level event.
  • Various gene editing techniques, like CRISPR-Cas9, are not perfectly accurate and may make unexpected cuts and insertions. Get something even slightly wrong, and say hello to super-cancer.
  • We don't know what every gene actually does, since the body is a very, very complex system. Simulating an entire human body in silico is not something that even the most powerful supercomputers are up to doing in any reasonable timeframe. However, with advancements in computer tech, this will eventually change.
  • There is a serious risk that the creation of post-human supermen via genetic engineering could amplify pre-existing class inequalities to absurd levels. It's a vicious cycle, really. Enhanced intelligence makes one more competitive, which allows one to accrue wealth faster, which enables one to enhance oneself or one's offspring even more. After a few generations, the upper classes could end up being completely unrecognizable and unsurpassable when compared to the lower classes, almost like demigods. The only way to ethically augment our species is if everyone gets the same level playing field.
With modern techniques, gene editing is easy and cheap. The hard part is figuring out which genes to edit and why. The entire human genome has been sequenced, pretty much. Edits usually take the form of knock-outs to disable a gene, or knock-ins to add an exogenous gene into an existing genome. I remember over a decade ago, they made transgenic mice that produced fluorescent proteins and literally glowed in the dark.


They took a jellyfish gene for the protein GFP and inserted it into the genome of these mice.


The green fluorescent protein (GFP) is a protein composed of 238 amino acid residues (26.9 kDa) that exhibits bright green fluorescence when exposed to light in the blue to ultraviolet range.[2][3] Similar proteins that also fluoresce green are found in many marine organisms, but the label GFP traditionally refers to this particular protein, which was first isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria and is sometimes called—when such precision is required—avGFP.

The GFP from A. victoria has a major excitation peak at a wavelength of 395 nm and a minor one at 475 nm. Its emission peak is at 509 nm, which is in the lower green portion of the visible spectrum. The fluorescence quantum yield (QY) of GFP is 0.79. The GFP from the sea pansy (Renilla reniformis) has a single major excitation peak at 498 nm. GFP makes for an excellent tool in many forms of biology due to its ability to form internal chromophore without requiring any accessory cofactors, gene products, or enzymes / substrates other than molecular oxygen.[4]

In cell and molecular biology, the GFP gene is frequently used as a reporter of expression.[5] It has been used in modified forms to make biosensors, and many animals have been created that express GFP, which demonstrates a proof of concept that a gene can be expressed throughout a given organism, in selected organs, or in cells of interest. GFP can be introduced into animals or other species through transgenic techniques, and maintained in their genome and that of their offspring. To date, GFP has been expressed in many species, including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, fish and mammals, including in human cells. Scientists Roger Y. Tsien, Osamu Shimomura, and Martin Chalfie were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on 10 October 2008 for their discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein.

Proof-of-concept stuff for all of this has existed for years and years, now, and doing it in humans is trivially easy, but unethical, and a lot of scientists want governments make it illegal because of the unknown long-term risks. The barriers to gene-editing are very, very easy to surmount. Well within the reach of a tinkerer with a home laboratory and under $20,000 dollars of equipment. Heck, some basic things can even be done for under $1k. I bet some looney out there has put together their own PCR machine and centrifuge with things they scrounged off eBay. The biggest problem with substandard gear is contamination of the experiment. Proper biolab gear is super-sterile and autoclaved, and the lab itself is outfitted with above-hospital-grade air filtration and laminar flow cleanroom design. The only way someone can validate their experimental results is if they're sure that outside factors are well controlled, and in biology, that means keeping everything very clean.

So yeah, it's not that hard to do, if someone has access to all the necessary tools and reagents. It's just stupid to do it blindly, without knowing every little thing the targeted gene does.

The holy grail, in the next 50 years, will be to create a full simulation of the human body in silico, so we can make a simulated gene edit and then "grow" it into a simulated adult organism and see what it does over time. We're going to need computers that are orders of magnitude more powerful than what we currently have, in order to do that. Maybe even next-generation quantum computers, should the problem prove too difficult for classical computers to solve.


The human genome has over three billion base pairs. Every living person has between 20,000 and 25,000 genes that code for between 80,000 and 400,000 different proteins. The gene is the blueprint. The protein is the finished product. The way those proteins interact in an organized fashion gives rise to the organism itself. There are over 200 different cells that make up a human, but we are also populated by symbiotic colonies of microbes that make up a substantial portion of our mass. In a 200 pound human, there are 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria.

Now, imagine completely defining and simulating this entire system. It's a computational nightmare.

In short, we can edit our genes already, but unless we have solid proof that a specific genetic variant has a specific effect, we really have no idea what the hell we're doing when we do it.

There are some conditions where the specific mutation is known to science. For instance, Harlequin Ichthyosis is caused by a mutation in the ABCA12 gene.


ABCA12, or ATP-binding cassette sub-family A member 12, is essential for transporting lipids (that is, fats), across cell membranes. Human skin is not inert. It is an organ and a system, and it needs nourishment from the body to function correctly.



By restoring ABCA12's normal functionality in utero, the condition of Harlequin Ichthyosis could be prevented entirely.

One possible example of making a "superman" with gene editing is by altering lactate clearance in the muscles to reduce fatigue.


Genetic factors
Of the many genes we analyze for our programs, there are two of particular importance when it comes to the lactate threshold: MCT1 and PGC1A.

MCT-1

Your MCT genes encode transporter proteins, called monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs). As previously mentioned, these are responsible for transporting lactate into the mitochondria, where it can be subsequently used to produce ATP, the energy currency of our cells. Of the different types of MCTs, MCT-1 and MCT-4 transporters are particularly abundant in slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers respectively. The A allele of the MCT1 gene is associated with higher levels of MCT-1 transporter protein and if you have the AA genotype, you may be at a genetic advantage. This is because you may be able to delay the onset of fatigue (due to H+ accumulation and acidosis) for longer than an individual with the TT genotype.

If you do have the TT genotype, and therefore have a genetically slower lactate clearing potential, don't worry; all hope is not lost! A review of existing research has demonstrated that various types of exercise (continuous, HIIT, resistance) can elicit increased levels of muscular MCT. This applies to individuals of all training status, sedentary and elite alike. Increased MCT expression in muscle will attenuate increases in acidity and offset fatigue. In fact, research suggests that fatigue indices during all-out and intermittent exercise are inversely proportional to MCT1 content - i.e. the more MCT1 you express, the less likely you are to experience fatigue.

PGC-1α

PGC-1α (encoded by the PGC1A gene) is a critical component in a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis (the formation of new mitochondria). As previously mentioned, lactate can be "cleared" by mitochondria and used to produce ATP and other molecules needed for energy metabolism. It would make sense then, that a higher number and density of mitochondria will allow for greater lactate clearance and therefore a higher lactate threshold. For the 57% of us with the GG genotype of the PGC1A gene, we have higher levels of the gene that codes for the PGC-1α protein and therefore potentially have higher mitochondrial density and better lactate clearing capability.

Again, if your PGC1A results are AG or AA, and you're concerned about lower levels of PGC-1α: worry not - exercise is once again the solution! Aerobic exercise is proven to increase the production of PGC-1α proteins (up to 40 fold!) and to trigger mitochondrial biogenesis. Accordingly, ensure you are including cardio in your workouts if you want to stimulate the production of new lactate-clearing mitochondria and improve your lactate threshold!

If you had the right gene editing tools, you could alter an embryo to have the genetic variants that clear lactate faster. When the child grows into an adult, they'll have the ability to run long distances without their muscles acidifying and burning with fatigue, making them good endurance runners, in theory.

That one Chinese scientist who unethically edited the CCR5 gene of a pair of twins to make them HIV-resistant may have inadvertently enhanced their intelligence, too. Variants in CCR5 are associated with differences in brain function and improved formation of neuronal connections.


You know what else a hyper-connected brain is implicated in? Schizophrenia and autism.



You might make a gene edit that makes people smarter on paper, and inadvertently end up with a fetus that grows into an adult with a psychiatric disorder. It's difficult to predict the effects.

There are techniques other than CRISPR for modifying the behavior of organisms on the cellular level. Small Interfering RNA, or SiRNAs, can be used to alter genetic expression in an adult organism. It's a cutting-edge field of study. There are lots of things about it that aren't fully understood by scientists.


Pop culture has ingrained this idea in people's heads that gene editing is very cool and sci-fi and that we'll be making ourselves into living gods in the blink of an eye, but it's not that simple. The human body is a very complex jigsaw puzzle and it doesn't relinquish its secrets easily.

The barrier to doing gene edits on humans is very low. The barrier to doing it and knowing what the hell you're doing and what the long-term effects are is very high.
 

Otterly

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We aren’t anywhere near being able to do what most people think of as make super babies.
What we can do right now is simple gene editing and embryo selection. Things like pre implantation genetic diagnosis for the latter is used to pick out embryos that don’t have a disastrous gene for example.
We can also technically do simple edits.
BUT. And it’s a big but. Four main issues.
1. IVF isn’t trivial for a woman to go through. The hormones used to prep the eggs can fuck you up big time (ovarian hyper stimulation, on top of all the general nastiness fucking with hormones does.) it’s painful, it’s invasive, and it doesn’t have a high success rate. IVF babies also seem to have a slightly higher rate of birth defects. I know several women who tried via IVF and all of them found it really tough mentally and physically. And financially.
2. ethics - do we let the mad deaf activists make deliberately deaf babies for example? What do we allow? Disallow? Who chooses?
3. Unintended consequences. We don’t really know what a lot of genes do. The kind of modification that says ‘you have inherited a fucked up gene - let’s unfuck it to a known sequence’ is not going to do much harm. When you start selecting multiple genes with a wish for, for example, higher intelligence, you don’t really know what you’re getting. The difference between a one body problem and a three body problem if you will. How one known mutation works is one thing. How multiple genes interact in the existing genetic background is another.,it’s a science in its infancy. Which leads to ...
4. Inexact science. Yes we can do fun things with Cas9 these days. Yes it’s possible to gene edit babies. But anyone who has made GM mice in the lab knows that for every live birth there are multiple failures. That makes me squeamish when applied to humans.
 

Johan Schmidt

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Mar 21, 2020
We aren’t anywhere near being able to do what most people think of as make super babies.
What we can do right now is simple gene editing and embryo selection. Things like pre implantation genetic diagnosis for the latter is used to pick out embryos that don’t have a disastrous gene for example.
We can also technically do simple edits.
BUT. And it’s a big but. Four main issues.
1. IVF isn’t trivial for a woman to go through. The hormones used to prep the eggs can fuck you up big time (ovarian hyper stimulation, on top of all the general nastiness fucking with hormones does.) it’s painful, it’s invasive, and it doesn’t have a high success rate. IVF babies also seem to have a slightly higher rate of birth defects. I know several women who tried via IVF and all of them found it really tough mentally and physically. And financially.
2. ethics - do we let the mad deaf activists make deliberately deaf babies for example? What do we allow? Disallow? Who chooses?
3. Unintended consequences. We don’t really know what a lot of genes do. The kind of modification that says ‘you have inherited a fucked up gene - let’s unfuck it to a known sequence’ is not going to do much harm. When you start selecting multiple genes with a wish for, for example, higher intelligence, you don’t really know what you’re getting. The difference between a one body problem and a three body problem if you will. How one known mutation works is one thing. How multiple genes interact in the existing genetic background is another.,it’s a science in its infancy. Which leads to ...
4. Inexact science. Yes we can do fun things with Cas9 these days. Yes it’s possible to gene edit babies. But anyone who has made GM mice in the lab knows that for every live birth there are multiple failures. That makes me squeamish when applied to humans.
Also out tests are pretty invasive. Taking biopsies of the egg you want to examine carries with it risk of damage and failure. IIRC you can examine the cumulus cells around the egg to check the discarded chromosomes, but only in unfertilized eggs.

The inability to accurately check up on your work and continuously monitor the progress of the egg as it develops inside a woman retards research. If we had some magical artificial womb it wouldn't be so bad, but that's pretty unlikely any time soon.
 

Shroom King

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Dec 22, 2014
With modern techniques, gene editing is easy and cheap. The hard part is figuring out which genes to edit and why. The entire human genome has been sequenced, pretty much. Edits usually take the form of knock-outs to disable a gene, or knock-ins to add an exogenous gene into an existing genome. I remember over a decade ago, they made transgenic mice that produced fluorescent proteins and literally glowed in the dark.


They took a jellyfish gene for the protein GFP and inserted it into the genome of these mice.

I think I have died and now I am in Hell after watching that video.
 

A-Z0-9

A rather mundane letter, designated "A".
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I find this idea terrifying. Other poeple, individuals with vastly different morals, ideals and beliefs can essentially craft and manufacture another human being. You might say that there will be tight regulation on this practice, but there is a difference between stating a regulation and actually enforcing it. Human slave trafficking exists to this day alongside a varied other businesses revolving around human exploitation, even when goverments state that they are working on it. I understand that some officials might actually give a shit and produce results, but the fact remains that this business is still in operation, regardless of the effort done against it. You might argue gene modification can eliminate bad genes that cause suffering, but I ask you this: What's stopping a dude from deliberately introducing bad genes? Anyone that has been on this forum for a long time know some of the fucked-up poeple we have covered, and in turn realise the negligent amount of justice being done against said individuals. Hell, how long did it take to get Sick Nick in jail? What about the unjailed members of the Kero the Wolf gang?

Poeple can be manufactured in a way that only serves a particular member's or political party's agenda. Poeple can be manufactured in a way that results in them being the perfect slaves to their masters. Poeple can be crafted, by other fallible, fragile poeple, in things that cannot be called human. They will be created like how one can create products or tools, pumped out to serve a definite purpose.

For God's sake, we nearly blew ourselves up when we invented nukes and the cuba missile crises happened. If nukes were fired, a vast majority of the earth's population would've been annihiliated. There is this one story going around (and I can't find the source for it but I'll add it when I find it) states that a russian nuclear submarine was posted near cuba. Firing of the nuclear payload must be confirmed by three officers. Two of them wanted to authorise it. The third one did not. Had the third official agreed and fired the nuke, this would've lead to MAD and the end of all humanity.

Giving humanity this tool - this method of actually changing and manufacturing another person - is an grand error. I believe that some things should not be trusted to other poeple. Things like this.
 

ToroidalBoat

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Upside:

Possible regeneration - no more permanent injury, and no more mental disorders.

Downside:

People would be shaped into the ideal tool of governments and corporations. Even more than now with media and propaganda.
 
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