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  • #46
    I don't look at whether it is right or wrong, just as whether it might be possible to reproduce what nature does naturally with a created process of our own. That process could include a biological womb that is supported by the right physical sustenance for the foetus' survival. That to me seems reasonably possible in this world of research and invention. I'm not here to argue the moral or other criticisms concerning whether we should let this happen, just whether it is a physically possibility or not.
    "Not many fishes left in the sea. Not many fishes, just Londo and me."

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    • #47
      Originally posted by saori
      I don't look at whether it is right or wrong, just as whether it might be possible to reproduce what nature does naturally with a created process of our own. That process could include a biological womb that is supported by the right physical sustenance for the foetus' survival. That to me seems reasonably possible in this world of research and invention. I'm not here to argue the moral or other criticisms concerning whether we should let this happen, just whether it is a physically possibility or not.
      Yeah, but that kinda separation of thinking seems to be a little hard for everyone to come up with. Probably for good reasons too. One implies another, after all. You could possibly argue that those with overriding physical defects might have their "own" child this way, but I think the ick factor of the original racks-of-test-tube-babies thought gets in the way.

      Everything's possible, given energy and time. That's why that question is far less interesting.
      Radhil Trebors
      Persona Under Construction

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      • #48
        Re: 15 cycles as a satai: remember that Delenn had been serving as a de facto member of the Council due to the illness of one of the Religious Caste members. that could indeed have been going on for some time.

        Re: the unattractiveness of the Minbari as a people: I agree that they are less attractive as one looks more closely at them. Delenn tells Sheridan in "Matters of Honor" that to accuse a Minbari of lying will result in a "fatal response," which we can assume is true, but such a response is of course designed to hide the fact that Minbari DO lie (and the Minbari in question WAS lying). It was in effect the announcement of the Minbari pattern of murdering people who told the truth about a Minbari trait about which they did not want the truth revealed.

        Some of the other "Great truths" that the Minbari told themselves about themselves proved to be flasehoods as well: "Minbari do not kill Minbari;" the wisdom of the Grey Council; their "racial purity;" the "prophecies of Valen;" etc.

        They turn out to be not nearly so wise and "advanced" as they appear on the surface, and I think that this is just another example of a whole subtle subtext JMS put into the story and left for us to discover on our on.
        I believe that when we leave a place, part of it goes with us and part of us remains. Go anywhere in the station, when it is quiet, and just listen. After a while, you will hear the echoes of all our conversations, every thought and word we've exchanged. Long after we are gone .. our voices will linger in these walls for as long as this place remains. But I will admit .. that the part of me that is going .. will very much miss the part of you that is staying.

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        • #49
          so when we take the top layer of their epidermis, we find the Minbari to be Racist, Lying, Decietful Beings whos beliefs are majority rule in their society . . .

          sounds like being Human. Then again, each race's culture in the Babylon 5 universe is similar to humans . . . its just Minbari are more like Human (in nature and geneticaly speaking) than most of them known.
          "It is said that the future is always born in pain. The history of war is the history of pain. If we are wise, what is born of that pain matures into the promise of a better world, because we learn that we can no longer afford the mistakes of the past." -- G'Kar in Babylon 5:"In the Beginning"

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          • #50
            Originally posted by saori
            Yes, but for me she didn't act quickly enough. Delenn is showed regretting her actions and wanting to do something about it on the verge of human genocide (from my understanding of the timeline) 2-3 years down the track from the first tragic encounter. This is not quickly enough to convince me that she really was such a great leader of the Minbari religious caste as her position, training, the philosophy she expounded on B5, and the respect she was showed by other religious caste Minbari suggest. But then maybe this incident had a huge impact on her in the intervening time and made her even more committed to the path? And maybe the choice was made when she was still quite immature and young (as the scenes with Dukhat in the series suggest) but if so why was she on the council?


            One thing to remember is that Delenn was not the "great leader" of the religious caste. She was the youngest representative of the caste present on the Grey Council. She was also the newest member.

            Her words may have not had the effect that someone like Dukhat would have had. In fact, almost certainly not. It would be much as a junior member of Congress. They would have had to follow all kinds of decorum just to be allowed to speak, and even then, they would have to have some kind of support from senior members in order to have an idea actually put forward.
            "Ivanova is God!"

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            • #51
              Jan: My personal opinion is that it would be a mistake to cause or allow our species to become dependent on technology for our reproduction. All it would take is the futuristic equivalent of a 'power failure' to wipe out our ability to sustain ourselves. Bad move, evolutionarily speaking.
              I compleatly agree, alone that considered it would be unwise. But I fear in light of the "efficency" dogma nowadays the "birth machine" (in one form or another, why not geneticly engeneer something for that function?) *will* come, as woman could work more then... 8-(

              PeAcE
              greetings from austria, best known for its history and fine wine... feels like a wine cellar on a graveyard 8-)

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              • #52
                ... I spend a lot of time in China, the mainland. And technology is having some rather alarming, if not completely unexpected results.

                ... No doubt we all know about their One-Child policy. Get away from the really big cities, and you find towns with kids running all over the place - 8 out of 10 of them are boys, and I'm not exaggerating in the least.

                ... Women there abort female kids until they can get a boy, and modern tech lets us know the gender well in advance..., even in the Chinese countryside.

                ... (for 12,000 US Dollars you can buy a license to have a second kid - that's a LOT OF MONEY in China. You see rich folks with multiple kids sometimes).

                ... Not TOO off-topic, I hope. Good night!
                "I think I'll pass on the tuna, thanks."

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                • #53
                  Originally posted by saori
                  I don't look at whether it is right or wrong, just as whether it might be possible to reproduce what nature does naturally with a created process of our own. That process could include a biological womb that is supported by the right physical sustenance for the foetus' survival. That to me seems reasonably possible in this world of research and invention. I'm not here to argue the moral or other criticisms concerning whether we should let this happen, just whether it is a physically possibility or not.
                  You haven't read "Brave New World" have you, saori?

                  In any event, that's Hawking speaking. False authority syndrome, IMHO, to give so much weight to those speculations you posted.
                  A physicist, even the most brilliant one, could be quite ignorant of biology.
                  Physics doesn't say pigs can't fly, it would say that if you give them large enough wings and muscles they could. It's biology that gives meaning to the saying that "when pigs fly..."

                  The relationship between brain size and intelligence looms large in the popular imagination, but is not necessarily true. After all, the average female brain size is smaller than the average male brain size, and look at how many females are smarter than some males...
                  Connectivity, not number of neurons, might be what it takes for smarts. In fact many neuroscience studies reveal that lacking activity or connectivity in portions of the brain is related to many disorders and/or capabilities (e.g. musician's brains are wired differently). The natural environment of the womb might play an important role in the development of baby brains. It might be possible to make that experiment with animals, but is unethical (and impossible) to make it with humans.

                  We humans are emotions by millions of years of nature, intelligence by some thousands of years, reason only a fragile addition in the last few thousands of years. That outer layer of reason can contemplate your question unemotionally, but in real life that dettachment seems unlikely. You're talking about parenthood when you speculate about vat babies modified by genetic engineering... just look at all the irrational acts parents do, look at how emotions are a big part of what family is.
                  If even in this small outward-forward looking community you see the idea of genetically engineered children out of artificial wombs becoming quite a controversy imagine the world at large...

                  I'm not opposed at all to genetic engineering, furthermore, I think that genegineering of the somatic cells only, without touching the germline cells, is not a good idea.
                  Take the example of attempts at genetic therapy, you cure the child, but without modifying the germline cells you know that their descendants will inherit the same disease.

                  I agree that genegineering our future is desirable, but I believe the ethical conundrums, and the related ideological opposition, are enough to make genetic engineering of humans a thing for a more distant future than a couple hundred years. As it is currently the uncertainties, from the merely scientific point of view, are still too big to have genetic engineering of human babies (other than as a scam, such as the announcements of human clones). And even once we know, unless there is a huge external cause that demands genetic modification of humans (be it an ecological catastrophe or the need to adapt to life outside Earth) I doubt the process will be implemented.
                  I know that you can look at whether is possible divorced from whether it's "acceptable" but that ain't the way it works in the real world where even the idea of stem cells is abhorrent to some.

                  This world of research and invention is one where the abstract science for knowledge and curiosity alone is no longer possible. And I'm not talking about the convergence we see between pure and applied research (which has always been artificial) with technological applications now driving research directions. Ethical implications now play a larger role in research, especially when it comes to genetics.

                  With all that said, I'll play ball with you Saori and leave behind the ethical and moral implications.

                  My personal opinion, looking at it from a merely scientific perspective:

                  Is it possible to have artificial wombs?: yes
                  As Radhill said, everything's possible given enough time and energy.

                  Is it possible now?: No.
                  If we ever see that there are artificial wombs for lab rats then we can consider it probable, as it is now the very process of embrionary/fetal development is, AFAIK, too poorly understood to duplicate. Furthermore: having a related species (a kind of wild oxen in danger of extinction, can't remember the name) grow in the womb of another (a cow) is not succesful in all cases. An artificial womb would be much more of a challenge.

                  Would it be a cheaper and more "convenient" alternative?: NO
                  I agree with DeMonk, the baby grows for "free" in the mother's womb, an environment already fine tuned (by millions of years of evolution) to give the necessary conditions. Duplicating that just out of curiosity seems unnecessary.

                  Would that technology ever develop without looking at the ethical and moral implications?: NO.
                  I said something about it above, but by your request I won't say more. I'll just point again that in real life you can't skirt those questions, thus in real life the physicist Hawking's speculations about future social and biological developments of humanity are moot.


                  If you haven't do read "Brave New World" outdated on the science (IMO), but stil good fiction. Another good read dealing with genetic engineering and its social consequences is Nancy Kress's "beggars" series.
                  Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                  James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

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                  • #54
                    "What if, uhh...C-A-T really spelled 'dog?'"
                    Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.

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                    • #55
                      And once again, I have to ask...what on earth are you talking about, ZD?

                      Jan
                      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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                      • #56
                        I think it's a movie line I've heard somewhere, but I can't for the life of me remember which one. So the reference is lost on me too.
                        Radhil Trebors
                        Persona Under Construction

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                        • #57
                          Revenge of the Nerds II!

                          Lewis and one of the others nerds are smoking a big fatty and talking about smart stuff. Ogre, the newly converted nerd, pipes in with the great line above.
                          Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.

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                          • #58
                            Damn! I shoulda known that one.
                            Radhil Trebors
                            Persona Under Construction

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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Capt.Montoya
                              You haven't read "Brave New World" have you, saori?
                              Actually, I read it again for the 2nd time about 3 months ago. (The first time was was about 10 years ago). To be honest, I preferred Huxley's "Island," but to respond to your implication, no, genetic engineering and artificial wombs are not a new concept to me. I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make.

                              I thought Hawking's statements were quite interesting because they seemed to relate to the problem I had with the Minbari. I expected the Minbari to be more psychologically advanced or developed than Delenn's actions in the series seem to suggest. The main contention of Hawking that I wanted to highlight was the implication that even the humans in the B5 future might not be (or probably would not be in his opinion) like the "regular" people (normal in this day and age) that are featured in the series because of developments in technology (not just the Minbari as I had assumed).

                              Originally posted by Capt.Montoya
                              In any event, that's Hawking speaking. False authority syndrome, IMHO, to give so much weight to those speculations you posted.
                              If you think I have FAS, well, that's your perogative. I just found it incredibly interesting and think the guy may just have a point. Of course, I don't necessarily agree with Hawking's time frame (I personally think it would take 300-400 years not his stated 100-200 years) and I thought that I had pointed this out in an earlier post. Maybe I hadn't, but as a scientist of some note he is probably more likely to have the pulse of the scientific community and the pace of scientific development than me.

                              Originally posted by Capt.Montoya
                              The relationship between brain size and intelligence looms large in the popular imagination, but is not necessarily true. After all, the average female brain size is smaller than the average male brain size, and look at how many females are smarter than some males...
                              Sure, brain size is not the only factor relevant to intelligence, yet it is not irrelevant either. Evolutionary history points to the fact that roughly speaking brain size is correlated with intelligence and thus far brain size has been limited by the size of a woman's hips. With artificial wombs this would no longer be the case so Hawking's assertion that a larger brain would allow greater intelligence (particularly if genetic engineering is utilised as well) seems reasonable enough to me.

                              Originally posted by Capt.Montoya
                              Would that technology ever develop without looking at the ethical and moral implications?: NO.
                              I said something about it above, but by your request I won't say more. I'll just point again that in real life you can't skirt those questions, thus in real life the physicist Hawking's speculations about future social and biological developments of humanity are moot.
                              The reason I didn't want to get into the moral "conundrums" is that often these kinds of argument are confused with metaphysical arguments against something's possibility. (A moral argument is used to "prove" that something can't or won't happen because it "shouldn't".) I felt that some of the responses were beginning to verge on this and I didn't want to waste energy on posts that missed the point I was trying to make. Sure the moral implications of such technology could slow down the development and restrict the use of of it in procreation but given what people are like today I don't know that it will. The point that I was trying to make by referring to Hawking's comment was the effect that this kind of technology would have on the (physical and psychological) nature of future humans and thus the realism of "future" humans in today's sci fi programmes (e.g. B5 characters).

                              If Hawking is right, and he may be, then this may be quite significant indeed. When I read what he wrote it made me completely reconsider the image of future humans that I had from watching sci fi on TV and in films (as well from reading sf books). I found the prospect quite intriguing, others may not.

                              Sao.
                              saori
                              Confirmed User
                              Last edited by saori; 12-15-2005, 01:28 AM.
                              "Not many fishes left in the sea. Not many fishes, just Londo and me."

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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by saori
                                Actually, I read it again for the 2nd time about 3 months ago. (The first time was was about 10 years ago). To be honest, I preferred Huxley's "Island," but to respond to your implication, no, genetic engineering and artificial wombs are not a new concept to me. I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make.
                                If I missed your point we're even then.
                                Got your point now. Mine with the mention of "brave new world" was that I think that a future of artificial wombs is likely to be as bleak. The point made about the need for nurturing to develop as normal humans might be something that starts from the very womb, so the lack of the family bond from the womb might end up being as bad as neglect after birth.
                                But I may be completely wrong.

                                I thought Hawking's statements were quite interesting because they seemed to relate to the problem I had with the Minbari. I expected the Minbari to be more psychologically advanced or developed than Delenn's actions in the series seem to suggest. The main contention of Hawking that I wanted to highlight was the implication that even the humans in the B5 future might not be (or probably would not be in his opinion) like the "regular" people (normal in this day and age) that are featured in the series because of developments in technology (not just the Minbari as I had assumed).
                                Though I think that Hawking's speculation might have merit I think that despite greater intelligence or body modifications through genetic engineering many human qualities will remain. That includes things of the "human spirit" both good and bad (courage, kindness, jealousy, greed), which I think ultimately come from our deepest animal instincts. That is at the basis of much of human behavior (IMO) so I doubt the behaviors would be so radically different.
                                Modifying those instincts might be impossible, but I may be wrong.



                                If you think I have FAS, well, that's your perogative. I just found it incredibly interesting and think the guy may just have a point. Of course, I don't necessarily agree with Hawking's time frame (I personally think it would take 300-400 years not his stated 100-200 years) and I thought that I had pointed this out in an earlier post. Maybe I hadn't, but as a scientist of some note he is probably more likely to have the pulse of the scientific community and the pace of scientific development than me.
                                As a scientists of no note at all I know that even the scientists of most note are not always correct and can be flat wrong on areas beyond their expertise. They may have the pulse and pace of their area and miss the beat on other areas. Hawking may have a point, and I agree that the time frame of Hawking is too short, I'd be likelier to agree to your estimate or 3-4 centuries. However I still don't put too much stock immediately on Hawking's speculations beyond those of physics (and even on those he has gone wrong). I'd have to read the book to be sure, but from a superficial glance I don't agree with those speculations.
                                Science is so vast and fragmented that I usually find that physicists speaking of biology (neurosciences included), biochemists speaking of evolution, biologists speaking of quantum phenomena, etc. tend to go wrong. Expertise in a scientific area does not equate to expertise in all science.


                                Sure, brain size is not the only factor relevant to intelligence, yet it is not irrelevant either. Evolutionary history points to the fact that roughly speaking brain size is correlated with intelligence and thus far brain size has been limited by the size of a woman's hips. With artificial wombs this would no longer be the case so Hawking's assertion that a larger brain would allow greater intelligence (particularly if genetic engineering is utilised as well) seems reasonable enough to me.
                                Actually, you might only need an even more flexible cranium. As it is the infant's head gets squeezed to pass through the birth canal. Engineering for a more flexible head at birth (or just for a conehead?), or wider hips, could allow for larger brains without artificial wombs.
                                The point that I was trying to make by referring to Hawking's comment was the effect that this kind of technology would have on the (physical and psychological) nature of future humans and thus the realism of "future" humans in today's sci fi programmes (e.g. B5 characters).

                                If Hawking is right, and he may be, then this may be quite significant indeed. When I read what he wrote it made me completely reconsider the image of future humans that I had from watching sci fi on TV and in films (as well from reading sf books). I found the prospect quite intriguing, others may not.

                                Sao.
                                I actually also find the prospect interesting, and I also think that sci-fi TV aliens are too antropomorphic (not only on the bilateral quadruped body plan, also on behavior). On SF books there are aliens that are more "alien", but truly alien ones are scarce.
                                I'd say that's an unfortunate consequence of writers having to write for a human audience. The "average" viewer (even reader) might just not care for an alien that they can't relate too in any way (which would be a mark of true alienness).
                                Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                                James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)

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