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Solving Climate Change By Bioengineering Humans?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-lazy-enough-to-work dept.

Biotech 363

derekmead writes "Forget CFLs, hybrid cars, and organic jeans. Buying our way out of climate change — even if it's green consumption — won't get us far. A new paper (PDF), published in Ethics, Policy, and the Environment by NYU bioethics professor S. Matthew Liao, poses an answer: engineer humans to use less. The general plan laid out by Liao is straightforward, ranging from using pharmacological behavior modification to create an aversion to meat in people, to using gene therapy to create smaller, less resource-intensive children. The philosophical and ethical questions, on the other hand, are absurdly complicated. The Atlantic also has a great interview with Liao, in which he talks about gene therapy and making humans hate the taste of meat."

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Going way too far (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331627)

It's one thing to use genetic engineering to fight disease and obvious medical problems. But using something with such dangerous potential to advance a social agenda which society can't even agree on is going way too far. It's dangerous enough to screw with Mother Nature even when the objective is crystal clear. Screwing with something as dangerous as genetic engineering and altering humans en masse is insane for an objective this murky (not to mention the fact that it would violate every university's or hospital's ethics policies in about a million ways).

First, do no harm--even if you think it's for a good cause.

Re:Going way too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331757)

I would agree with you in general about the unknown harm of side effects of large projects. That's a good reason to not launch into something without research and testing. On the other hand, I think this sort of thing happens all the time with no input other than "Will it sell?" Why do we have Wow! potato chips, or Pink Slime enhanced meat? The list goes on and on... and these wouldn't be considered earthshaking projects, but when you look at the effect they have on literally millions of people, especially as they develop and grow to adulthood, the impact is very large.

Re:Going way too far (1, Redundant)

onepoint (301486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331785)

You have said everything correctly. I just hope more ears will listen...
What you wrote reminds me why we have freedom of speech " I might not like what you said, but I will defend your right to say it"
I would hope that others see why I link your words to it...

No (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331835)

Problem is: Everyone sane is afraid of climate change for this very reason. Not because of "the environment". There is no moral imperative to save the species that exist today. We can not not kill all DNA based life. But we can change the current mix of species and climate for the worse for us humans. Because the current one enabled us to be the apex species on this planet. It could work out by itself. It could even get better for us. But who gambles human life on that chance? Fighting climate change is actually a very conservative position. But if we can not agree on that we might have to change ourselves rapidly.

Re:Going way too far (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331919)

Considering all the problems that simply engineering Foods have caused (they generate their own pesticide; which either we or our animals eat), I'm not ready to start messing with human beings. It would get screwed-up.

If the concern is too many people on this planet soiling our own nest, then a better solution is to try to reduce the population (like China is attempting with its 1 child per couple policy) (or through Mother Nature starving us like she does with other species).

Re:Going way too far (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331935)

I think the definition of ethics is being stretched way too far. First we have that Australian ethics journal publishing a paper on After Birth Abortion, and now this. Shouldn't a journal on ethics at least know the definition of the word, and consider it before allowing such a paper to be published?

Re:Going way too far (2)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331941)

To be fair, selective pressures will cause genetic modifications (or more accurately, the proliferation of the most appropriately adapted modifications) on their own, with or without our assistance. The difference is in whether we want to do it intelligently, or randomly. Random mutations can work, especially if we don't particularly care who, or indeed what, ultimately dominates, but intelligent genetic engineering, like most other decisions that we don't leave to chance, is probably the better answer.

As for the "do no harm" platitude, surgery is harmful in itself. Some accidentally does no medical good (the patient dies), and some intentionally does no medical good (as with most cosmetic surgery). So that's a bit simplistic. It's all about weighing the potentials for harm against the potential for good.

That said, if we're at the point where we can engineer the characteristics described in TFS, let's go ahead and work on some more pressing problems with the human genome first.

Re:Going way too far (5, Insightful)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332085)

Random mutations might be random, but the resulting gene frequencies in a population are far from random. This is the mistake a lot of people make when it comes to Evolution by Natural Selection.

No, I totally disagree that "intelligent" genetic engineering is even possible. There are unknown unknowns (unforeseen consequences). On the subject of the OP, this is simply another kind of eugenics. If ideas like this came from a right-wing whack-job, you'd all be screaming Nazi.

Re:Going way too far (4, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331971)

And this is, in a nutshell, why I _loathe_ "Climate Change".

We could be talking about cars, or coal power, or plastic, or disposable goods, or you know just about anything else that produces green house gases or is a waste of resources?

But no...
No, let's just rewrite the human genome so that people don't really want meat quite as much because........
global warming?

Captain Planet must be kicking himself for teaching us to reuse and recycle when he could have been telling us to radically alter our biochemistry so we eat less meat.

Re:Going way too far (0)

Muramas95 (2459776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332069)

I am sorry but I can't hear you over the 10 billion people talking at once. I think that we need to start understanding that we will need to drop some of our ethical standards or start adopting heavily enforced eco-friendly ones. Our world is on its last legs and you are worried about making it so people eat less meat.

Re:Going way too far (2, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332089)

Screwing with something as dangerous as genetic engineering and altering humans en masse is insane for an objective this murky

But..but, driving more fuel efficient cars is hard ! Giving up my 5000 lb Lincoln Navigator and my wife's "couple of Cadillacs" is hard ! Oh, and figuring out a way for oil companies to make money off of alternative fuels is really super hard ! You want to be the one to look David Koch in the eyes and tell him that we need to find alternatives to oil? No, I didn't think so.

Clearly, it's much easier to come up with serious alternatives, like bioengineering humans to be able to breathe greenhouse emissions and putting gigantic venetian blinds into orbit. Or who knows? The Bible says that the oil fields will eventually refill themselves if we can just bomb Iran. And there's just oodles of oil waiting under the ground that only requires detonating nuclear bombs wrapped in cyanide and plutonium and red dye #2 under the tectonic plates to shake that oil a-loose. Those are all much less onerous, and perfectly safe, and...and just think of all the great jobs they will create! Good, American, non-union jobs. Anyway, I read Freakonomics and those guys said terraforming is really the way to go, and everybody knows they are like the smartest guys ever.

So let's just try to think outside the box here, because everyone knows that when it comes to energy, there can never be any technological breakthroughs that don't involve extracting fossil fuels from the Earth. It's like a mathematical impossibility, according to that nice young man from the American Families for Freedom and Prosperity (AFFP) on the Fox News. And he couldn't say that on TV if it wasn't 100% true.

Re:Going way too far (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332141)

"agenda which society can't even agree on"

I am not to sure about this statement. I think the differing opinions are simply:
"If we do not do something soon then the human species will face extinction in the immediate future, so lets get on it"
"Sure, the situation is quickly becoming untenable but I will probably be dead by the time it gets really bad so why should I do anything about it?"
"The situation is too complicated and would inconvenience me too much, we should wait and hope some kind-of super technology is invented between now and the fall of civilization that makes fixing everything easy"

Oh hey look (4, Funny)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331655)

ranging from using pharmacological behavior modification to create an aversion to meat in people, to using gene therapy to create smaller, less resource-intensive children.

Pretty sure I've read this book before. Now, if I could only remember what it was called. Hmmm...

Well, no time to waste, lets go create our bold refreshed earth, now with vegetarian midgets!

Re:Oh hey look (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331705)

Pretty sure I've read this book before. Now, if I could only remember what it was called. Hmmm...

Well, no time to waste, lets go create our bold refreshed earth, now with vegetarian midgets!

brave new world?

Re:Oh hey look (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331929)

'The Time Machine'. Are you Eloi or Morlock?

Re:Oh hey look (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331833)

I can't wait for the sequel - No War for Vegetables!

Re:Oh hey look (5, Insightful)

onepoint (301486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331841)

maybe you are thinking of Mein Kampf? no mater which way I read it, having modified kids, and my taste forcibly changed via medication seem rather nazi-ish

Re:Oh hey look (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331927)

Y'know, I'd call you on a Godwin's Law violation. If not for the fact that the actual proposition in this case seriously, really IS the EXACT reasoning and justifications used by the REAL Nazi Germany, only using "vegetarian midgets" as the master race instead of Aryans.

There's really no way around mentioning Nazis in this case. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the person who published the article is just trolling, that's how absurd this suggestion is.

Re:Oh hey look (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331945)

Even before Nazism, Brave New World theorized doing almost exactly what Liao seems to be proposing: behavioral modification to force people towards "desirable" behavior, and (essentially) bioengineering children, to create a more ordered society (so not 100% the same as Liao on that point, but the concept is pretty much identical).

Re:Oh hey look (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332235)

thank you, I did not know. I will have to get the book
thanks

Re:Oh hey look (5, Funny)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331883)

No, no, you need to read between the lines: he's suggesting that we eat the Irish.

Re:Oh hey look (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39332015)

Since when are the Irish vegetarians?

Re:Oh hey look (2)

MatthiasF (1853064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331989)

No no no. They can't eat vegetables either, since that'll produce methane gas.

Remember, don't toot or you'll pollute!

Don't need gene therapy... (1)

moosehooey (953907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331673)

People will like to eat whatever they grew up eating, no genetic engineering necessary.

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (2)

willie3204 (444890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331711)

And parents will feed kids whatever they grew up eating as well..
ITS THE CIIIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIFE

Seriously though how do you break the cycle without legislation or "Let's Move!" type enforcement?

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331839)

You might want to actually to scarfing down some really alien part of some other country's cuisine some time. You may find that this stuff is not just "personal preference" or just being "spoiled Americans". You may find that you are actually adapted to the diet of what ever place your great-grandparents came from.

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331973)

You may find that you are actually adapted to the diet of what ever place your great-grandparents came from.

Try giving cow milk to a non-northern european. Not a nice thing to do to them.

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331885)

You don't. If you want to change what you eat, make a conscience effort to do so. Don't expect the guy next-door to change just because you think it is better.

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331879)

True to a small point, the problem is when they try the food from a different place... Also, have you ever given up salt for an extended amount of time? You'll be amazed how much it seems like candy after the first time you try it again ( was off salt for a 3 month personal test and tried very hard to have a low salt diet, sad to say I gave up, but what I learned is that i did not need as much salt for some of my dishes )

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332001)

Wow.

I had the opposite effect. I can no longer stand Salt or Sugar in my food, unless it's the low-salt/sugar option. Just this past Christmas my mother gave me some cake and she said, "Isn't that icing tasty?" Um. No. Yuck. (It was so sweet I had to scrape it off.)

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (4, Informative)

cfulton (543949) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332091)

Also, have you ever given up salt for an extended amount of time? You'll be amazed how much it seems like candy after the first time you try it again ( was off salt for a 3 month personal test

You cannot give up salt. You will die with no salt in your diet. Yes that is correct you will die if you don't eat enough salt. While too much salt can be detrimental, this crazy idea that salt is bad for you is just that "Crazy". I'm sure it tasted like candy because your body needed that salt. Salt helps maintain the fluid in our blood cells and is used to transmit information in our nerves and muscles. It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from our small intestines. Eat your salt.

Re:Don't need gene therapy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331881)

That's bullshit.
I sure as hell like completely different kind of food that I liked when I was a kid. That does not mean I don't like the food I grew up eating.

Bioengineering the Librul master-race (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331677)

The perfect individual for the collectivist-altruist society:

OK as long as (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331685)

women don't loose the taste for blowjobs!

One Word (1)

dreadlord76 (562584) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331717)

Miranda.

Re:One Word (1)

Brainman Khan (1330847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331895)

If wishes were horses we would all eat steak - Damn I dont like steak now.

Re:One Word (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331897)

Oh, great. They'll genetically create Reavers while the rest of us get turned into passive vegetarian targets. Sounds to me more like the dicotomy between the Morlocks and the Eloi. We're so screwed.

Or (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331729)

you could stop jacking off to stupid shit like global warming.

Just pushing out the horizon! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331733)

Okay, completely setting aside the staggering ethical issues...

Let's say we all turn into hobbit-sized vegetarians and reduce our footprint. It doesn't fricking matter. Unless we do something about our fertility, our population will still keep growing and we will still eat the rainforests, it will just take a little longer for us to do it. And that's the thing: there really is only one variable that actually matters in the long run. With the right-sized population, we can all be 12-foot-tall gorillas that only eat the prime part of the cow and discard the rest.

Not that there aren't also ethical considerations on that side too, but jesus, it just irks me when so much effort is put into managing these little inconsequential variables that, in the long term, don't change a damn thing about our global impact.

Re:Just pushing out the horizon! (1)

jbrandv (96371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331791)

The one time I wish I had moderator points to mod you up! I keep pointing out this little inconvenient truth too.

Re:Just pushing out the horizon! (2)

kqs (1038910) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331939)

Population growth is slowing, and the earth is likely to achieve zero (human) population growth this century. So while I cannot call this a solved problem, it doesn't seem like a critical one to worry about.

Re:Just pushing out the horizon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39332041)

But if we are smaller we will consume less. . Why stop at hobbit size? Imagine one piece of coal heating an entire nation, or one tree making paper for a generation!!! Yes, yes, lets shrink everyone until we consume less and less and less. The more the shrinking the less the footprint. :D!!! I of course will remain large just to make sure that no one else can manipulate the shrink ray, er. I mean genetic stuff.

Re:Just pushing out the horizon! (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332051)

Funny, but in most wealthy countries, and even in countries with politically stable and affluent (read: "not worried about starvation") populations, the birth rates are either holding steady or dropping (not counting growth due to immigration).

Now obviously you can't solve the world's population growth via making everyone wealthy, or even by making sure that no one ever starves again. On the other hand, you can try to foster politically stable, peaceful societies as a good first start.

As for the rest, let's start looking beyond Earth as a place to expand our population. Obviously not tomorrow morning, or even a decade hence, but maybe have a target date of 100 years from now.

Otherwise, the only other alternative is a mass die-off... which I suspect few would actually want.

Re:Just pushing out the horizon! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332057)

Let's say we all turn into hobbit-sized vegetarians and reduce our footprint. It doesn't fricking matter. Unless we do something about our fertility, our population will still keep growing and we will still eat the rainforests, it will just take a little longer for us to do it. And that's the thing: there really is only one variable that actually matters in the long run. With the right-sized population, we can all be 12-foot-tall gorillas that only eat the prime part of the cow and discard the rest.

The other thing you missed is that once we're overpopulated hobbit sized vegetarians, its possible we won't be big and strong enough to take step 3, whatever it turns out to be.

Same argument with global warming... OK so we delayed the inevitable by X years. After X years the inevitable arrives, and we can't deal with it because we're a depopulated paleolithic 3rd world culture instead of an industrial culture. Why do something that dumb?

Re:Just pushing out the horizon! (2)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332111)

Let's say we all turn into hobbit-sized vegetarians and reduce our footprint.

If we turn into hobbits wouldn't our footprint be larger? Or at least the same size but our bodies smaller?

Re:Just pushing out the horizon! (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332251)

do something about our fertility

Among the 'cultures' that deliver the largest population growth are two characteristics that preclude 'doing something.' First, they're not wealthy, so they hold no interest at all for statists. Second, they are notoriously indifferent to the anxieties of Western intellectuals. Right up until the JDAMs detonate.

Buying our way out of climate change (3)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331741)

The solution offered here is an example of the class of solution it is supposedly an alternative to:

Forget CFLs, hybrid cars, and organic jeans. Buying our way out of climate change â" even if it's green consumption â" won't get us far. A new paper (PDF), published in Ethics, Policy, and the Environment by NYU bioethics professor S. Matthew Liao, poses an answer: engineer humans to use less.

Buying bioengineered humans is certainly an example of "buying our way out of climate change", and its far more speculative in its utility than any of the forms of buying our way out of climate change it is offered as an alternative to in TFS.

I think I read this before (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331753)

Was it Oryx and Crake?

Do I need to move into the deep wilds and avoid taking vitamins?

Re:I think I read this before (1)

nikolardo (2266242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331969)

Probably.
On the plus side, if you can survive in the deep woods long enough to figure out how to live, you'll probably be really healthy.

Here in Texas.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331767)

Don't you be taking our meat, boy. *spits*

less humans (3, Insightful)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331781)

why wouldn't you engineer humans to be less in number... o right can't use birth control.

Easier way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331783)

Wouldn't it be easier to just herd the useless eaters into the ovens?

Oh wait; ovens means more stuff in the atmosphere. Sorry. Just throw them in mass graves instead.

(If you think this post was serious, you're as crazy as that nut is.)

Climate change is not because of humans (0)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331787)

Even if climate change is caused by human CO2 emissions, the majority of these emissions is because of trnsportation, electricity and other uses of energy. Basic human needs contribute little to the problem.

Re:Climate change is not because of humans (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331847)

engineer humans to be non-engineers?

For some reason I suspect that this is a... (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331793)

...intricate trolling attempt directed to make Alex Jones even MORE wonko.

This might be Liao's scene but his fix idea is not only completely unacceptable, but also...before we would had such a grandiose project underway we would probably already have perfected invitro-meat.

Totalitarianism (5, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331803)

Is there any doubt that coercion would follow, since a lot of people would refuse? The effort to perfect man into someone's ideal image has always resulted in mass death.

Re:Totalitarianism (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332083)

Well, on a purely objective level, mass death would sort of solve the problem too, according to these folks...

And what happens when the meat eating (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331807)

super soldiers that make up the people who refused this and didn't geneticaly tamper with their children to produce smaller people decide to just take what they want from the leaf eating midgets?

Re:And what happens when the meat eating (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331855)

Then a time traveler comes to teach the midgets how to fight back.

Re:And what happens when the meat eating (2)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331957)

I'm already drooling.

Ultimately pointless (2)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331815)

Even if you did such, all that does it push back the wall some, there is still a wall there. We only have so much farmland, never mind the limits on other resources. If you really want to reduce consumption in a way that won't hit a wall you'll have to stop our population growth, and even reverse as it is pretty much too high as is. I don't think genetics are the solution there though. That's more a social issue.

Ethical concerns. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331819)

The ethical concerns are only absurdly complicated when trying to justify something which is clearly unethical.

De-evolution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331825)

There was a sci-fi short that posited mankind colonizing other planets, but just as they had started spreading out, all the newborns were coming out "devolved" to Australopithicus. Evolution had driven the growth of intelligence and the brain to get mankind off the single vulnerable planet, but now that it had spread and was safe from a single-point disaster, evolution pointed to the efficiency of not maintaining that large energy intensive brain. Monkeybrains were quite good enough.

So that's actually the solution I propose. Monkeyboys and monkeygirls may fling feces but they don't burn petrochemicals or cause global warming.

Oh, Ford! (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331829)

Somehow I have the feeling that Dr. Liao sees himself as an Alpha, with lots of vegetarian Epsilons to do drudge work.

Just great... (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331843)

We'll all be genetically engineered humans, probably patented by Monsanto, and will then have to pay a licensing fee to reproduce. :-)

Re:Just great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39332241)

Well, it was time to get THAT regulated too!

Theoretical nonsense (2, Insightful)

glorybe (946151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331865)

Instead of ideas such as making people smaller why not simply confront the fact that we need to severely restrict births. A lower population eats less meat, needs less roads and cars and allows general preservation of the environment as well as having natural land for wild life. Simply have rules that allow only the best young people to have one child in one marriage. Problem solved and no test tubes or fancy thinking need be involved at all.

Re:Theoretical nonsense (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39332063)

Instead of ideas such as making people smaller why not simply confront the fact that we need to severely restrict births.

yes

A lower population eats less meat, needs less roads and cars and allows general preservation of the environment as well as having natural land for wild life.

yes

Simply have rules that allow only the best young people to have one child in one marriage. Problem solved and no test tubes or fancy thinking need be involved at all.

NO! You are wrong on so many levels I could write twenty essays and five dystopian novels on the subject.

Re:Theoretical nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39332077)

>why not simply confront the fact that we need to severely restrict births.

Because that wouldn't fly any better. Duh.

Re:Theoretical nonsense (3, Insightful)

TC Wilcox (954812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332087)

Instead of ideas such as making people smaller why not simply confront the fact that we need to severely restrict births. A lower population eats less meat, needs less roads and cars and allows general preservation of the environment as well as having natural land for wild life. Simply have rules that allow only the best young people to have one child in one marriage. Problem solved and no test tubes or fancy thinking need be involved at all.

Yes, great idea! Let's create a world government with enough power to: - measure the best-ness of every single human - decide who gets to have children. Not the best? Sorry, no kids for you dumb-ass! And I'm sure this entire process would be done fairly and transparently and wouldn't favor the people in power.... - the power to enforce its decisions from people who may not want to follow the rules and may be trying to hide pregnancies. That means somehow getting all females on the planet to take periodic pregnancy tests (probably a blood test so the results can't be faked) and aborting the preganancies of anyone who is pregnant without permission. Great world you envision.... I'd personally rather give up meat....

Re:Theoretical nonsense (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332107)

and what do you do about the old people? or do we simply kill them once they refuse to work?
to give you a hint, once the single children get married and have their own kid, they will be two working people providing for seven eating people (four of their parents, two of them and one of the kid).

Re:Theoretical nonsense (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332137)

Well, until it comes time to decide who "the best young people" are, that is.

Then there's all those forced abortions and sterilizations, and even w/o the question of forced abortions, I'm pretty certain that most people would object to being forcibly sterilized.

Re:Theoretical nonsense (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332205)

But that raises another question. Is it better to control births by genetically programming people to act rationally in this type of environment (involving one act of totalitarianism), or to enforce a one child policy forever.

Re:Theoretical nonsense (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332223)

Way to piss off all the environmentalists with 3+ biological children. Oops, paradox.

Just don't breed so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331869)

In the last couple of hundred years the human population on earth has exploaded. There are just too many of us. If we where half as many, environmental issues would perhaps not go away but our impact would be waaaaaaaaay less. It's even very simple to achive this in a realtively short time. Just don't have to many kids (yes, I know this is /.). If each person has one child or less (i.e. two per couple or less) the population will stop growing and start to decrease. It's that simple.

Sounds like a modest proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331891)

But it's worth all due consideration.

Double Plus Good! (2)

DRMShill (1157993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331899)

Double plus good indeed.

Mad Science (1)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331907)

This falls firmly into the Orwell/Mad science category. He wants to genetically modify people so they prefer the diet he believes to be optimal.

This is strange... (3, Funny)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331911)

A bioethicist advocating eugenics.

Godwins law flexing it's muscles in background... (1)

tr2sa (1426161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331915)

Just a question of drastic vs draconian methods in reducing population resource use. But at least a try in a direction of technological escape velocity - why stop at taste or midgets, lets cluster baby brains on city sized monstrosity roaming around in ocean, feeding on any organic substance. Or better yet - one swift blow to population numbers by...

Pointless (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331925)

professor of philosophy and bioethics

His insights in nutritional science are likely to be as correct and relevant as /.s insights into modern interpretive dance. This was a LOL article.

Old world thinkers have just barely moved beyond the "vital force" principle in organic chem... still hung up on the differences between humans and animals being some mysterious vital force. Sorry, there's just not that much difference.

His theory seems to be he can create a bovine protein allergy. He might succeed at creating a bioengineered lupus-like autoimmune disease.

He might manage to make us allergic to hemoglobin (what could go wrong), or maybe unable to digest some essential amino acid that is in meat and also some plants... kwashiorkor here we come!

Another fun one would be cross species contamination into carnivorous species... Bye bye lions and tigers and housecats and wolves and dogs and...

You know what would be fun? Catholic mass is into the transubstantiation thing where the wafer turns into the body of christ. Unable to digest meat means unable to digest the host. Therefore catholics can't take the pill. The meat allergy pill, I mean, not the birth control pill. Although the jokes are already firing up about "eating meat". Except on Fridays during lent when you're not supposed to eat meat. Except for fish, which is a plant. This will be fun to watch.

Seriously though, it might be an interesting bioweapon. Imagine something that spreads like AIDS so religious types can blame the victim for their sex life, but it gives them fatal kwashiorkor.

Another fun one would be to build the industrial facilities to generate and package enormous quantities of some obscure non-essential amino acid, then release a plague that converts human digestive systems into having that formerly non-essential amino acid now be an essential amino acid. Then sell the food supplements to keep them alive... at a high profit of course. This is a subcategory of the old game of give new 3rd world mothers enough baby formula to supply the baby until they stop making milk, then say ha ha and charge whatever you can get out of them lest they watch their babies starve. Ha ha, its a great day to be an American isn't it....

Making Humans Hate Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39331955)

It works for me!

If we don't eat meat who will? (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331985)

So if humans are not eating the cows how will their numbers decrease? Are we just going to kill them all? Planned extinction of species that product too much CO2?

Re:If we don't eat meat who will? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332183)

So if humans are not eating the cows how will their numbers decrease? Are we just going to kill them all? Planned extinction of species that product too much CO2?

Presumably the mad scientist won't get rid of northern european ability to drink cow milk (other branches have varying levels of lactose intolerance). So we could keep the female cows around for milk and cheese. What to do with the male ones? Oh I know, grind them up and feed them to the living cows. Oh wait, thats how we ended up with mad cow disease. Whoops.

One thing I don't get is growing cows on land suited for cows and not much else is perfectly Ok. Factory farming of cows, not so Ok. So we'll hit the mosquito with a Hbomb and eliminate all dairy farming. Dumb!!

Mwwhahahahahahaha!! (2)

Amtrak (2430376) | more than 2 years ago | (#39331987)

So, are we absolutely sure this guy isn't some good scientist gone mad? I mean the whole concept sounds like the start of a crazy bond movie plot, where the Mad Scientist gets fed up with the world's corruption and decides to make a genetically engineered army that will make the work a better place and distract the governments as he creates his G.E.N.E. Bomb that when detonated near space will forcibly convert all of the world to his ideal. "Do expect me to talk?" "No, I expect you to eat your salad Mr. Bond."

Re:Mwwhahahahahahaha!! (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332181)

So, are we absolutely sure this guy isn't some good scientist gone mad?

Actually, I suspect he [smatthewliao.com] is asking questions to provoke thought about ethical questions, whether the thoughts are "that's crazy" or "you have a point" or....

Meat is murder! (1, Insightful)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332007)

Tasty, tasty murder...

Mmmmmmmm... Bacon...

What could possibly go wrong? (4, Insightful)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332019)

Suprised this hasn't been mention. If any thread fit that tag, this sure enough would.

Stop breeding (2)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332059)

How about we stop the global populating increasing at the current exponential rate? Then we can look at the minor efficiencies of all the other stuff.

While the Chinese One Child Policy may not be ideal at least it recognizes reality - too many humans creates too many problems. Note, I'm not saying the human population should be decreased (except perhaps, by natural population decline - which is exhibited in advanced countries).

Much of the catastrophic predictions of Malthusian correction are based on the current uncontrolled human population growth. If that growth can be slowed considerably, stopped, or even (naturally) reversed then there is a chance that our technologies might catch up with our consumption (eg. improved recycling, synthetic generation of some resources from our waste, etc).

Bio-whatics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39332081)

Nobody who proposes this shit should use the word "ethics", or any derivative of it in their title.

This guy is a crackpot, plain and simple.

Been there, done that... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332115)

using gene therapy to create smaller, less resource-intensive children

...bought the album that had the song [wikipedia.org] on it.

Liao and the Limbaugh factor: (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332125)

This paper is written specifically to raise a fire storm with much wailing and gnashing of teeth on all sides.

Meanwhile, Liao loves every minute of the spectacle and writes a couple of grant proposals based on it.

Sorta like when Limbaugh or Beck or Imus etc, says something outrageous specifically because he's not been the center of attention lately.

Hate the taste of meat. (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332145)

Really. You know, it is statements like these that make intelligent people seriously dislike science as a whole.

Does anyone here honestly believe if everyone stopped eating meat the issue of earths natural climate change would stop?

Or even how about it would change the natural cycle of change in our favor?

Put this in context of a planetary eco system, which is a structure so vast no way are we going to understand it anytime soon. A planetary eco system inside another gigantic structure which is our solar system guarantees we won't understand anything anything about these systems anytime soon.

And these people want to start tinkering with them _on purpose_.

Really? Seriously?

Well, you got my vote for doomsday if these idiots ever do get enough political power and enough idiots to follow them to start doing experiments on our own climate system.

I would be all for this, as long as space travel was as simple as getting in a car.

Because, given the F*up'ed world we live in, thanks in part to western science, I want to be able to leave when the planet becomes uninhabitable because someone used metric instead of english units to pour hydrogen sulfide into the atmosphere.
(No seriously, that is one of the things they want to do...._HYDROGEN SULFIDE_).

Leave the f'in planet alone!

-Hack

Gene therapy to make CEOs hate money. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39332149)

Problem solved.

More seriously: if this bioengineering would ever pan out then there will be two classes of people:
low-maintenance workers, and their not-so-low-maintenance masters.

Creepy and Silly (1)

cfulton (543949) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332151)

Controlling our genetics is one thing but, trying to make us vegetarian, meek, small and docile is just creepy and silly. If you were going to manipulate our genes why not go for Gigantic, Strong, Arrogant, Meat Eating, World Beaters. Oh guess it has been done. Still, don't want my kids to be a bunch of Hobbits no matter how good the books were.

ive lead a project (3, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332155)

similar to the one mentioned, namely the project to dissuade humans from the taste of meat. My team works in shifts to identify common foods and cravings people may have. we have assembled around 30 meals we've identified as generally enjoyed
in the US, and after nearly a decade of extensive testing and development im proud to say we've made significant progress. Of the commonly consumed edibles we've engineered, many test subjects eat only some of the food. often times they refuse to eat certain items entirely. By changing the color and texture of the food we've ensured that even the most visibly palletable foodstuffs remain of limited interest to numerous test groups.

the project ive overseen has the potential for proven commercial success. should any reader need more information on patent licensing, design or independent consulting/partnering please feel free to contact me.

regards,
Mike Archer, President
AppleBees Restaraunts.

What a great idea (1)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332221)

After millions of years of evolution, humans become large and at the top of the food chain,and this guy wants to override all that to make them leaf-eating midgets. So while there may never be consensus on the intelligent design notion of a higher power guiding our development, at least now we have the option for unintelligent design with a stupid power screwing it up.

Small Vegetarians (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332231)

So he wants to make everyone into Indians?

Geoengineering (1)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39332247)

Is this wacky proposal being seriously considered anywhere?

Meanwhile, nobody seems to want to study geoengineering.

We are probably only a few decades from being able to build space-based reflectors that block a nontrivial amount of sunlight from hitting Earth. We can already "seed" clouds to make them rain under some circumstances; maybe we can figure out how to encourage clouds to form, since at least some sorts of clouds seem to reflect heat away from Earth. I have read about proposals to drop something in the ocean (was it powdered iron?) to encourage algae to grow, thus locking in carbon dioxide. In short, there are numerous engineering approaches for cooling the Earth that do not involve mad-scientist gene tinkering.

steveha

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