Donald Trump’s Genes

Straightforward genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, Rett syndrome and muscular dystrophy are fairly rare. If a parent can edit those genes prior to development, to avert needless suffering in the child, why wouldn’t they? But, again, such Mendelian diseases are rare. The last 15 years of “gene for disease” research has come up empty.… Read More »

How could perception be implemented?

Imagine a buoy floating on the ocean waves.  The buoy is attached to the ocean bottom via a long chain or rope, allowing it to bob in place and resonate with the waves.  The buoy is like a neuron in the brain’s cortex, patiently waiting for the right signal (experience) to arrive. There are two… Read More »

The philosophy of Donald Trump

As Donald Trump said on The Apprentice: “People come out a certain way and for the most part that’s what you get”.  People don’t change, says Trump. They are who they are. They want what they want. To paraphrase Schopenhauer, we can do what we want, but we can’t change our wants. This appears to contradict… Read More »

Consciousness and DNA

Reality is boring. Two rocks collide, a volcano erupts, a tree falls.  It’s one thing after another – just an eternal series of nows.  Reality has no way to remember events (lights, sounds, interactions) and replay them.  They are gone forever. Consciousness (the mind, if you will) is much more exciting.  It provides a movable perspective through time and… Read More »

Personal Responsibility, Revisited

There’s an element of luck in everything you do, and who you are. If you were born into a wealthy family, that’s luck not skill. If your parents could afford to send you to a decent college, that’s your good fortune. If you’re a soldier in battle and get hit by a grenade resulting in… Read More »

What does a Robot want?

Why did the robot get out of bed in the morning?  Because it wanted something.  It had some interest, desire or motivation.  Otherwise why bother to move at all?  Why remember a new fact if it’s not interesting.  Why walk from point A to point B unless it serves some purpose? While it’s true that… Read More »

Metagenetics

Let’s assume that the observed diversity of human traits always follows the developmental mechanism described in the previous post, that all humans are born with pretty much the same DNA, but develop different talents based on (anticipated) environmental triggers picked up by innate detectors. Ambitious people would have their motivations, desires and temperament set at an… Read More »

Should robots be banned?

I can imagine a charismatic politician like Donald Trump suggesting that all robots be banned.  Why?  Because many of his followers fear being displaced and thrown out of work by fast food robots, self-driving taxis and driverless delivery trucks. Most educated people can’t imagine this would happen.  But educated people are relatively rare.  Most voters don’t… Read More »

“Born with” doesn’t mean “genetic”

Innate doesn’t (necessarily) imply genetic. We humans are 99.9% genetically alike. That 0.1% difference – the result of your parents rolling the genetic dice when they conceived you – is not enough to account for swapping in and out entire tracts of unique genes to implement your unique traits. While it’s possible that the 0.1%… Read More »

Gene Drive

Gene drive is a technology that can “drive” a specific gene throughout an entire population.  For example, you can use gene drive to introduce a lethal gene into a few disease causing mosquitoes.  They will pass along that specific gene to all their offspring. Usually, you can’t predict which version of a gene that offspring will… Read More »