Friday, May 6, 2016

Evolution and Intelligent Design

The obvious occurrence of intelligent design for life forms is after the genetic grand transition, when the function of genes are known, perfecting an ontology is possible, and the ability to supply an incubator or the equivalent for any organism is present. Once all this knowledge becomes available, it would seem very strange for an alien civilization to decide to not use it. Why would the alien civilization decide to have its next generation worse in many ways than they could be? The quality of life in the alien society is very closely correlated with the quality of the genetics, and the associated training, of the new aliens. Why would the alien civilization decide to have a worse quality of life? Why would they want to have anything biological in their civilization poorer than could be done with genetics?

So the expectation is that evolutionary genetics will be replaced, gradually, during the genetic grand transition, by intelligent design. Intelligent design is not the same as the controlled breeding that starts in the agricultural grand transition, when plants and animals are experimentally modified to be better suited to the needs of the alien civilization. This process takes many generations of organisms to complete and often only one quality or perhaps a few are being selected for. Intelligent design, on the other hand, takes comparatively no time at all, once the knowledge is accumulated, and selects for all qualities at once.

Evolutionary genetics typically modifies a few genes on a single chromosome. Of course, life on the alien planet would have chromosomes, which is simply a label for blocks of genetic coding within a cell. Intelligent design could modify multiple genes on multiple chromosomes at once, or it could be done by designing novel chromosomes. Any other genetic material within a cell could be modified as well.

Intelligent design works backwards from how evolution works. With evolution, some mutation happens, perhaps one genetic code letter is changed, or perhaps some chromosomal rearrangement happens. Then gestation happens, if the change is viable, and the organism is free to see if it is fit enough to reproduce those mutations. The environment of the planet is the laboratory in which this testing is done. With intelligent design, some specifications are set for the organism that is desired, and then some algorithms would be used to determine what genes on what chromosomes would produce the result. The choice of coding would certainly not be unique, and a huge combinatorial assortment of genetic arrangements could produce organisms meeting the specifications.

In another post, it was considered that genetics and the intelligent design would become an art form in an alien civilization, where individual organisms could be created as artistic artifacts, and even whole ecologies could be designed and created. The concept of zoo and art museum would be combined, where the animals and plants would be designed and produced for the purpose of display, and alien citizens could visit such a locale of biological art when they wished some diversion in this area. There is no reason to assume that art would not pervade all areas of technology or rather design. Biological art is only one type of art which is not only unknown to us, but almost inconceivable or unimaginable. It could be the most common type of art in an advanced alien civilization, yet we here on Earth cannot comprehend what it would be like. Biology is so much more flexible than paint on canvas or tastes in a bottle, that it is quite reasonable that it would become part of the milleu of all alien citizens. Instead of flashy buildings, interesting creatures might abound in an alien civilization, perhaps in controlled environments or perhaps mingling with the alien population. We are very far from being able to visualize this particular effect of the genetic grand transition, any more than the other effects.

There is some more freedom in creating organisms by intelligent design than in evolution, as ones done by intelligent design are temporary, and do not have to be able to reproduce. They would be created in some sort of industrial or biological gestation equipment, and be as unique as the inventor wanted. There might be competitions in designing the softest grass or the tastiest fruit or the most sonorous insects or anything else, which the necessary limitations on how long was available for design and how must AI assistance was allowed and so on.

A common thing to say on Earth nowadays is that common people are richer than kings of five hundred or a thousand years ago. It might be common to say on an alien planet that everyone is living a richer life than the most fortunate person living before the genetic grand transition. Scarcity of resources is perhaps our most common measure of good fortune, but when resources become abundant after the various grand transitions on an alien planet, the common measure might be richness of experience, and there is absolutely nothing we can imagine which would compare with what these civilizations experience. Harking back to the original concept of this blog, perhaps an advanced alien civilization is so rewarding to live in that absolutely no one, not a single alien, would even think of wasting his time by taking a long space voyage. Home is just so incomparable that travel in a space ship is inconceivably horrible.

Intelligent design builds on evolutionary design in the sense that the information necessary for the genetic revolution is derived or at least starts from the genetic information in existing, evolved, organisms. Exploring existing genetic code is one of the ways in which genetic knowledge is accumulated. The genetic revolution does not stop with evolved genes, but moves from them to ones which are synthetic, ones evolution never experimented with. Nor does it stop with single coded organisms, as chimeras would be created, with perhaps a even larger variety of creatures being possible with them. Once the technology of creating chimeras is mastered, then industrial uses of biology might be facilitated, meaning that manufacturing of anything would not be automated, but something else. We on Earth don't have a word for this. Automation refers to something accomplished with some sort of robotics, but what exactly could be used as a word to describe something accomplished with a genetically designed, possibly chimerical, organism. “Chigenation?”

No comments:

Post a Comment