The first person who can write a 500 word text file about anything you like will get 20 Frih$. The text file must be written in English and must make sense. It can be about Religion, Computers, World News, ANYTHING. For every 50 words more you write other than the 500 required you will get an extra 2 frih$. The maximum amount that will be given out is 50 frih$.
pointless topic.. if someone would post in a bunch of topics.. and total 500 words.. they will get way more then 50$FRi..
so please.. if your in the marketplace.. try to sell something useful
|jgarder wrote: |
|pointless topic.. if someone would post in a bunch of topics.. and total 500 words.. they will get way more then 50$FRi..
so please.. if your in the marketplace.. try to sell something useful
First of all, you would get the points you get for posting it plus the points I give you.
I have a hunch that most of the people in the sci-fi worldbuilding scene come from engineering, computing, and 'hard science' backgrounds. So biotechnology tends to succumb to sillytech without anybody even noticing. Just like radiation was the staple of 1950's sci-fi, gengineering seems to be the universal plot device of modern sci-fi. This page is here to remedy that.
Let's start on what's hopefully a more familiar ground. What would it take to rewrite the Linux operating system from scratch? According to Wikipedia, the typical Linux kernel has around 2.4 million lines of code, which translates into maybe 183Mb worth of source code (obviously the compiled kernel is much smaller than that, but we're talking about the information necessary to produce the final product... and if we went by final compiled size, you'd see that the argument I'm about to make would only be strengthened). By industry estimates, this took about 640 person-years of work that had a market value of $86.4 million.
Now let's use this to calibrate the minimum costs of gengineering. The human genome has around 3 billion basepairs. It's about average in complexity as far as genomes go. Each basepair is capable of encoding at least 2 bits of information (there are two types of base pairings-- GC and AT, and each can exist in either of two orientations). So we end up with around 715Mb of 'source code' for a human, or just under four times the size of a Linux kernel. But of course it would take vastly more than 2.5 thousand person-years and $346 million to design a person basepair by basepair! It took Celera approximately that many staff-hours and dollars just to sequence the genome.
Sequencing is not the same thing as decoding and if you've ever decompiled a program you'll know what I'm talking about-- millions of lines of functions and variables with obfuscated names that give you no clue whatsoever about what they do. Furthermore, in the case of the human genome, you're looking at...
* Source code in a programming language that nobody understands and which took 3.8 billion years of trial-and-error hacking to write.
* The code for the only working compiler is scattered around in there someplace too.
* There are nasty little macros in the code that alter the code itself now and then. Parts of the code are commented out, but only when some conditions are met.
* You can correctly encode a protein and still have it not do what you want because of where you insert the code. Such as too close to one of those obfuscated comment blocks.
* For the most part the code doesn't specify features directly... it specifies modules (called proteins) whose interaction is what generates features you can observe. You can correctly encode a protein and still have it interact with the rest of the system in unpredictable ways because of the sheer complexity of the system... it's the difference between a compile error and a runtime error (or maybe even an interface incompatability). Remember what Wolfram taught us about simple rulesets generating complex systems and now imagine how much more complexity you could get if the rulesets are not simple.
* Unlike their computational counterparts, biological 'run-time errors' take anywhere between several days and several decades to detect, depending on the nature of the error and the lifecycle of the organism.
...let's just say that understanding the human genome as well as we understand the Linux kernel will keep the human race busy for centuries. And of course there are plenty of other genomes to understand.
So if you want to 'gengineer' a 50-foot-tall terrestrial octopus that shoots lasers out of its eyes, you would go about it the same way you would go about writing your dream operating system.
* Either you would just shitcan all the legacy junk and design a genome from scratch... this is called WetNanotech.
* Or you try to find chunks of code that seem to kind of already do what you want and move them around, tweak them a little, see which tweaks work and which don't. This is gengineering.
Gengineering rules of thumb.
* If you want a particular trait, you have to decompose that trait into the activities of individual regulatory, catalytic, and structural proteins. If there are just a few proteins governing a trait (example-- body size, which is governed by a handful of regulatory proteins) then it will be relatively easy to put into an engineered organism.
* If an existing organism already has that trait, it makes the job easier. The more closely the source organism is related to the target organism, the easier the job becomes.
* To move a gene between bacteria and eukaryotes (life forms whose cells contain distinct nuclei, like us for instance) you have to profoundly redesign the gene which will always be expensive. It's not impossible, but far more likely that the same investment will be put into tweaking a more closely related gene. Same thing with viruses.
* On that note, aliens do not have the same genetic code as we do.
* The simpler your target organism is, the easier the job. Order of simplicity: virus, bacterium, unicellular life form, multicellular life form (invertebrate), multicellular life form (vertebrate), multicellular life form (vertebrate mammal).
* Among mammals, gengineered traits will, for historical reasons, first be developed in mice.
* Mammals with long periods of gestation and sexual maturation would take decades to gengineer even if you know exactly what you're doing.
* In situ gengineering-- i.e. instead of tweaking the germline you target the somatic cells in an adult animal with a virus or some other vector-- is still in its infancy but is definitely a plausible tech. It has its own problems, though...
o Some traits can only be programmed at a certain point in development, not in adults. Otherwise you'll end up moving around, clonally expanding, and killing off cells on such a scale that you might as well be redesigning the developmental process which turns this into a hard and expensive problem.
o Some cell populations are tractable to in situ gene therapy. Others may take a century for us to figure out how to get to (my own list of guesses coming sometime).
o The changes will not stick around in future generations or will stick around but with a high risk of unpredictable effects.
o In general this technology will be less effective and less robust than germline gengineering.
* But the plausibility of in situ gene therapy doesn't contradict what was said earlier about the difficulty of transferring genes between profoundly divergent life forms. Here you're not trying to get the virus to use a gene, you're just trying to get it to carry the gene around as an inert payload until it finds a suitable cell to inject it into.
* If you want an animal to have/secrete structures made of some substance other than protein (e.g. adamantium, kevlar, plastique, unobtainium ), you'd better find some other animal that already does this. If there aren't any such animals, you're looking at an extremely hard and expensive problem that at the very least has to wait until an advanced state of WetNanoTech?.
* In general, if an engineering problem has not already been solved by evolution (e.g. the wheel, fusion, x-ray vision) then the biological solution to this problem will be harder and more expensive to develop than a DryTech? solution. The more proteins you have to alter, the more expensive and less reliable it will be. Stuff like pollution-eating bacteria are plausible because it's not really something new-- you're just taking the existing trait of breaking up complex molecules to obtain energy and optimizing it to target a particular class of molecules.
* There's no such thing as a free lunch. Unless an animal is very new to its environment, it's already optimized for it and any improvement comes at some cost (otherwise it would have that improvement by now). The most common costs are: size, mass, information processing requirements, energy requirements, fertility, speed, stress resistance, intellectual capacity, immune capacity, cancer susceptibility, longevity. Think about which of these would be plausible tradeoffs for whatever advantages you want to give your gengineered lifeform.
Feel free to fork it over anytime you like.
WOw, I can't believe you wrote all of that, anyway, I will give you your 50 frih$. You deserve them if you write all of that.
|cronic5 wrote: |
|WOw, I can't believe you wrote all of that, anyway, I will give you your 50 frih$. You deserve them if you write all of that. |
Oh, I wrote it myself alright. And posted it after carefully reading your request to make sure you didn't require that it be written specifically for this forum and no place else.
I originally posted it to the sci-fi website I'm helping run...
did you use ctrl+c and ctrl+v or just wrote it??
|masterevil wrote: |
|did you use ctrl+c and ctrl+v or just wrote it?? |
Like I said, I wrote it a few days before your post. After reading your post, I copied and pasted it. With a few minor edits.
Did you look at the link I posted to the original?
a bit of a useless topic?
getting more dollars for useless words
Ha ha. Al, that reminds me of this montey python sketch "Word Association" I think it was called. I kept thinking it was going to go somewhere, but it didn't. I quite like the site but sci-fi isn't really my thing.
(I DO, however, like the idea of 50-foot-tall terrestrial octopus' that shoot lasers out of their eyes.)