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  1.  (1641.21)
    "while you wait for the real future you think you're owed, you fuck around with your bodies like they were virtual-world avatars. you add things to them. you make them better. you threat them like characters to be improved and you grind them" - Doktor Sleepless#1

    Shit, I'm off to the comic shop! Haven't gotten around to picking up any Doktor Sleepless yet...

    One can only hope the application of this tech would embody itself in this particular brand of freewheeling awesomeness...
  2.  (1641.22)

    You're missing out, it's Warren's most interesting current work. It's been a load of fun and weirdness so far.
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2008
    I doubt the question is "will we use genetic engineering", but rather "how will we use genetic engineering". It's already happening, though not on any level people describe in science fiction novels (yet). (I lost a thought somewhere in here...) We'll probably start using cybernetic implants as well, so we'll have two choices. But I doubt either will be for the cool or cosmetic factors.

    So, we'll go from will we, to how will we, to what are the ramifications of using this? And I doubt all that many regular people will be thinking of the ethical choices they're making while deciding what's best for little Jim or Sarah. Yeah, we'll use it to prevent diseases, stopping AIDS, curing cancer, all that, but what else? There will be parents who want a healthy child, i.e not being able to get diabetes because grandpa had it, or parents who want a smarter child, or a faster one, stronger one. Then there will be the economical factor: GE isn't cheap. So, rich parents will have smarter children, stronger and healthier. Poor parents will have children with the same level IQ as today. What happens then? Two different classes of enhanced human beings and the menial labourers?
    What of the kids? As a friend of mine said, technology moves forward. As does GE. Mom and dad decide little Larry needs an IQ of 170 and he'll grown up to do wonderful things. Then tby the time they have little Anne, they discover she can get an IQ of 230! What of Larry? He's not as smart as Anne, she'll obviously do better than he ever will.

    Maybe not. Then there's the cybernetic implants. If you use GE to make people smarter, or live longer, will we use CI as spare parts? A damaged arm can't be regrown maybe, so then just add on a cybernetic one? And now we're into GITS territory of what does it mean to be human, and alive. :D
    • CommentAuthorSquidfisher
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2008 edited
    What actually horrifies me about this whole labcoat freakshow is not, in fact, the prospect of having to deal with hideous half-monkey creatures in Tescos (note that I avoid the obvious smartarsery on this topic, for I am strong) or waking up after a car accident to find my nose replaced with an NHS standard-issue Smellotron-30, but the fact that the bits of the technology we can see being rolled out right now are so sodding boring. Seriously, I was half-reading an article the other day about how 'soon', in that nebulous fairyland use of the term that newspapers revel in, McFatarseBurgers will be swimming with nanites that'll break down 3.574% of the artery-clogging crap in them in your body, allowing you to feel marginally less guilty about choking the loathsome things down.

    Well, whoopee-shit. I wait god-knows how long for actual microscopic machines that can make me More Human Than Human, and they're not being used to let me breathe underwater or out-think Hawking, they're chiselling encrusted cholesterol off my left ventricle so I can eat more greasy filth. Living in the future is less of a wild ride than speculative fiction made it out to be.
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2008
    @squidfisher - so say we all!

    and yet, if this helps with the whole diabetes type-II plague, so the better.. our populations are skewing grey enough as it, without having the replacement generation subject to a reduced lifespan
      CommentAuthorJon Wake
    • CommentTimeApr 4th 2008
    The actual social ramifications of genetic engineering are going to be more subtle and far reaching than we'll be able to understand from where we're standing now. We can talk about gangs of genemods with cat eyes and electric nipples, but we're really just regurgitating old fantasy tropes, a disturbingly large amount from Cyberpunk RPGs.

    First off, changing the human genome to make something new is proving to be more and more difficult the more we learn about it. It's not enough to engineer a retrovirus and inject it, because the DNA and epigenetic material evolved into a limited open loop, constantly adjusting to each other. It's a level of complexity that will likely require a lot more time until we can understand it properly. Tinkering directly with the human genome looks like a recipe for horrible cancer. So the miracle pill that makes you a genius and gives you a perfect body is probably a long long ways away.

    Bacteria, on the other hand, are abundant, simple, and easily modified. Bacterial modifications will be the desktop PC revolution of the genetic age. This does mean there's a chance some unbalanced 15 year old makes the bubonic plague again, but it might not be that easy.

    Cybernetics, on the other hand, are turning out to be much cheaper and easier than we thought. Integrating computer chips into the human mind has been done for years now, and chips are becoming cheaper and more efficient. While I don't think it will become mainstream, its just a matter of years until an enterprising cybernetics student somewhere integrates a blood-powered CPU in is body that lets him access wikipedia by thinking about it and have the articles translated into a HUD by a graphics card embedded in the retina.

    I doubt we'll be chucking tanks at each other with our banded steel limbs, but the distinctions between online and offline will be harder to make.
  3.  (1641.27)
    re: electric nipple tropes (which I feel must make it onto a t-shirt in the near future), I think they're so prevalent because - when it comes to dickering with the building blocks of life or honest-to-god retinal implants - the intellectual groundwork has basically been done almost entirely in fiction, to the extent that many realistic 'cyberware' innovations are being developed by dashing young scientists with one eye on integrated circuits and the other on a well-thumbed copy of Neuromancer.

    Well, that and the fact that everyone likes the idea of lobbing tanks at people that irk them.

    The point about a gradual mingling of on- and off-line reality is excellently-made; it'll be interesting to see how the first generations to take total instant information access for granted will develop, particularly with regard to social networking and distributed communities. (Jesus, you can tell I'm on the back-end of a night shift here...)
  4.  (1641.28)
    I think the issue is thinking of it from the point of view of things like the transhumanismist movement or 'in the future we will all have perfect uberbodies and then the jocks will not pick on me and I will get girls' or similar. These things will be done by serious men and women who don't care about these things and lead bland, middle class lives and it'll all gradually trickle in. It won't be sexy and fantastic and blend with all our current cultural ideas of what the futures going to be like because it'll gradually trickle in and we won't even notice until there's a gland in your chest that lets you make future toast.

    And yeah, you'll be able to throw tanks. Because that's what people'll want. Also, the military has more R&D money than anyone. They like throwing tanks as well.
    • CommentAuthorZeebo
    • CommentTimeApr 6th 2008
    In the end, genetics is quite a bit trickier than bioengineering. (Though I may be somewhat biased.) Yes, cybernetics will be incredibly complicated, but we pretty much know how electricity and mechanics works. As for Genetics? Well, we're basically between the point of Archimedes and Newton. We know things, but good luck unifying it.

    Also, on a lighter note, cybernetics may eventually offer the creepy sexbot spinoff, but mark my words, if genetics starts being applied to humans, someone will make a furry. And it will probably dispense arse eels. This is about the same time I will have perfected briefcase-sized nuclear weapons if anyone's in the market for mass euthanasia.