#300: you’re gonna have to read a long post

By admin, January 17, 2003

read dillinger’s rant on monday about cloning? i concur. wanna hear me take it somewhere crazy? forgive any technical misnomers, i’m not a bio-sci student, and forgive any incoherence- it’s 6 am.


the human genome is unlocked. we are isolating new genetic traits every day- genetic predispositions to violence. to athleticism. supposedly, there is a genetic causality in females for being predisposed to tomboyishness. the scientific community lends a lot of strength to the nature end of the nature vs. nurture debate these days… there is likely a genetic reason for everything we are. please bear in mind that i am not ruling out the effect of environment on the development of a person by any means- what i am saying, is that given a certain situation, there are likely simple genetic tendancies to react in certain ways. a tendancy for tomboyishness, a tendancy for understanding music really well, a tendancy for athleticism.

if we can isolate the genes necessary for this, it is not entirely implausible to imagine a possibility that we could refine gene therapy to a point that we could insert these tendancies into people. imagine a world with relatively easy access to gene therapy- the possibilities and ramifications it opens are mind boggling. imagine going to university for as long as you damn well want, taking any course that interests you, going anywhere you want, without worrying about the debt or time. when you feel ready, run to the drugstore and get hooked up with gene therapy for being, say, a buisness executive, and relatively quickly make yourself marketable in the business world. professional level athletes would likely all be genetically engineered- same with most forms of art (the 12 fingered pianist from the movie “gattica” comes to mind). in almost every field and facet of society, the best are almost entirely genetically engineered.

now, many people might take some serious offense to this, for many of the same reasons against cloning. i’d like to suppose, for the sake of debate, that there is no real class issue involved- the therapy would be readily available, not just to a rich elite. many people object, feeling that it’s somehow cheating, or that someone who isn’t engineered is more preferable to someone who is. and on one hand, i can understand that. if honing a craft that would take specially gifted (or genetically disposed) people years to do can be done in less time by someone who chose aggressive genetic therapy, their accomplishment seems somehow less than that of the natural. on the other hand, the skill they would likely have would be far superior to the natural, and it’s likely that this new talent would elevate most of the standards we see… and how could that be bad? in everything, the standard pretty much gets better.

watching an nhl game filled with players who are all of extremely high calibre- imagine 82 games a season for your team that are like watching all-star games (with contact). expand that to everything in society- music, art, politics, everything. everything gets better as a whole- would not the best improve as well? the highs, the pinnacles, the virtuosos- would all be that much better. try to imagine something you appreciate- i like to use hockey as an example. arguably one of the most talented players ever is mario lemieux- he understands the game on a fundamental level that allows him to do things on the ice that most people couldn’t even concieve of. as good as he is, had he played his whole life with people approaching or better than his skill level, it’s likely he’d be that much better, because the competition would bring out the best in him. add into that factor that he could also be genetically engineered, and he could be that much better again.

imagine where einstein or hawkings could have taken their minds. imagine what zepplin could have done, what beethoven could have done. it would fundamentally change how we evaluate any art (and i use the term “art” equally for beethoven and einstein) because anyone who wants to be good at it could be- and those who would be great at it naturally could be that much better.

think of the freedom it could grant you, right now- you can be whatever you want to be. whatever you want to do in life, you could do. actor, software engineer, doctor, cook, hockey player, dancer, salesperson, firefighter…. extrapolate from that- if everyone can be whatever they want, surely at first many people would choose jobs that pay more. fine, there is an initial wave of people getting rich… but then the market gets flooded with people trying to be that job, so people try to switch to the next “big job” … eventually, it would balance itself out. because our required training time for most jobs would incredibly decrease – training being everything from post-secondary education to on-the-job training- and because anyone could do any job, the more glamourous, the more high-paying jobs would become less high-paying, more normal. professional athletes would be everyday working people as much as a salesperson at future shop. actors would be just regular people… some better than others, some higher paid than others- but the outrageous difference between people like me and people like jim carrey would be dramatically reduced. there would be no financial reason for choosing what you want to be in life.

but i’m rambling on and on, here… let me try and bring this home another way- ask yourself this, right now:

if you could be good at anything, and would get paid the same and recieve the same celebrity regardless of what you became- what would you be?

call me a communist if you like, but i really think that that is missing the point.

i’m willing to bet that the majority of people asked this question would not say their current job. they would not all say the job they are currently studying to have. i’ll bet a lot of people would even have different ideal jobs if money and fame were no longer factors…

i think i’d multiclass- probably a chaotic good philosopher / hockey player. elven, if possible.