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Unnatural selection: Will we design life as if we were writing poetry?

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A thought from Raya Bidshahri at Singularity Hub:

Today, what survives on Earth can be determined entirely by human beings. We can alter the genetics of almost any life form and potentially design entirely new ones. According to renowned physicist Freeman Dyson, “In the future, a new generation of artists will be writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses.”

In their book Evolving Ourselves, Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans describe a world where evolution is no longer driven by natural processes. Instead, it is driven by human choices, through what they call unnatural selection and non-random mutation. As a result, we will see the emergence of an entirely new species of human beings. More.

The sheer volume of bad writing in the world, as compared to good writing, makes that a scary thought. From Bidshahri’s linked interview with Enriquez and Gullans:

Finally, would you say that you are optimistic about the future of humanity?

I realize how many things can go horribly wrong. I realize how awful leadership can be sometimes. But within that context, I’m quite optimistic about the future of humanity. We are doing things our grandparents would see as magical. Our grandkids will take for granted things that surprise, shock and awe us, because I think this whole thing is accelerating.

Most apocalypses do not, of course, happen because an accelerating trend is not usually a prophecy. David Pogue explains at Scientific American (2012):

* “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”—Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com and inventor of Ethernet, writing in a 1995 InfoWorld column
Metcalfe is well aware how silly his prediction came to look. He ate his words—literally. In 1999, addressing the Sixth International WWW Conference, Metcalfe put a copy of his infamous column into a blender, pureed it, and drank it.

So we shall see.

See also: New Scientist: The Singularity is unlikely

and

The singularity, as it happens, is not so near after all

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One Reply to “Unnatural selection: Will we design life as if we were writing poetry?

  1. 1
    LocalMinimum says:

    Once we can decipher the divine poetry already placed before us (for most it remains an illegible “junk” scrawl), and have near generally intelligent software that can spare us from the absurdly complex grammar rules…then, perhaps, it would be as easy as poetry; if poetry required a Bitcoin mining operation to put ink to paper.

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