June 24, 2009 at 8:18 am #11486Jesse2504Participant
Natural selection, processes by which genetically favorable phenotypes are more likely to be passed on to offspring is the crux for most of today’s species’ traits and adaptations.
In the instance of negative genetic mutations and unfavorable phenotypes Natural Selection works to select the best of the best in a species to continue reproducing and enhance their current adaptations to the environment where they reside.
What concerns me and is the issue of this post is the way humans are interfering with this method of maintaining the most fit of the species in a way that could be detrimental in years to come.
In most species, individuals with disability or lack of intelligence die at a higher rate than their healthy counterparts due to the obvious lack of ability to survive. This way the population is rid of unfavorable genetic disorders with no effort required.
What humans are doing contracts this refinement of genetic material such that we chose altruistically to allow individuals with disorders or disabilities to live and strive to keep them alive. The reasons behind these cases vary but generally as a species and even most individual populations the rate of unfavorable genetic material is climbing the more we allow such types of genetic disorders to reproduce.
The problem with treatment for these problems is that they tackle the effects of the disability and not the source so it is allowed to continue to offspring. Apart from inflating the medical budget with various treatments, we are artificially increasing the frequencies of negative alleles in our populations meaning that it will only get worse.
This is just postulation, any thoughts?
June 24, 2009 at 11:35 am #91549biohazardParticipant
I think there’s already a topic related to this, but I’ll put here in brief what I wrote earlier:
It is true that many people who would have earlier been "eliminated" from the gene pool by natural selection survive nowadays and have children. An example of this could be something as mundane as bad eyesight or type I diabetes, among many other fairly common conditions. However, this is not to say evolution didn’t work. It simply means the environment has changed so as to allow people with these conditions to compete succesfully. I don’t think our altruism can harm the human "fitness" that much: it is always so that the ones that are unfit to have and raise children stay as a minority, and those healthy enough remain as the main population.
In a way it’s like we’re slowly but steadily evolving towards symbioticism with technology and machinery: we become more and more dependent on medical and biotechnological inventions and methods, and machinery and products related to them. Today they concern just a minority of population, but if the trend stays as it is currently, after many generations we may end up into a situation where some part of the human race cannot even survive without aid of medical technology and some kind of life support machines/robots. Maybe these people would eventually evolve to become even a new species that couldn’t have offspring with "normal" humans any more 🙂
Of course, we’re a long way from anything like this, but I think it could happen. It could all start from something as simple as a some kind of pump or device implanted to children in order to administrate certain drugs (like insulin) or maybe vaccines, immunotherapy or monoclonal antiboides used to fight some condition. And while at it, maybe replace some organ with a better-functioning artificial one, and so on. If we for example decide to try deep space travel one day, even some very obscure technological aids might become essential – reinforced bones or modified skin that protects from cosmic radiation, maybe?
As long as it gives some kind of edge for these people to have more children than the others evolution should favour this trend. Of course an insulin pump doesn’t give this extra edge, but at least it would already ensure that "diabetic genes" stay in the pool. In a very different environment, some technological aid may become completely integral with human life.
June 24, 2009 at 11:55 am #91550Jesse2504Participant
Thanks for the reply.
As much as I’d love to become a futuristic cyborg, I’m concerned with the load of demand we are taking upon ourselves as a race compared to the onset of such problems.
We as a species don’t seem to invest enough into helpful groundbreaking technology as much as a fancy shiny boxed product that could have been done 10 years ago. I see the technology on the shelves and know that it is ancient, really really ancient stuff, but majority of people have no idea, since the TV tells them otherwise.
I live in Australia and the coal mining industry here is enormous, so much that they pretty much control our politics and our economy, and people want us to be environmentally friendly?
Sadly I don’t think I will see the day where profit becomes second to progression.
July 3, 2009 at 11:42 am #91741futurezoologistParticipant
Because profit is progression.
Profit = new technology which is leading to new cures and ways we can handle these genetic porblems. The way we are going we will be able to take out the genes which cause genetic disorders before fertilisation.
(sorry i had to be so brief — very little time)
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