First of all, let’s sort out the terms we use.
“White Hole” is the term used in astrophysical hypotheses to refer to the hypothetical second half of a black hole. A black hole absorbs everything, whereas a white hole is the source of the substance, it is a kind of the space fountain, which throws out whatever it is that was absorbed by a black hole, but not necessarily in the same form it was absorbed. In fact, to get into a black hole and not to be exposed by tidal forces that will carefully decompose you into elementary particles, it must only be a really huge black hole. But that is astrophysics and for the use of analogy it is not important to us.
“Evingeria” is evolutionary engineering. I do not pretend to create the term: it is used in systems for developing something new, for finding a solution, when evolutionary algorithms are used to find optimal results.
But I give a different meaning to “evolutionary engineering”.
“My” evolutionary engineering is a natural extension of genetic engineering, nanotechnology and other fields of knowledge and production that are necessary for its purposes. Its main purpose is not to make small corrections to something existing, as in modern genetic engineering, but to create new species, systems and biocenoses that are incorporated into evolution by competing with existing ones. That is, an intelligent correction of evolutionary processes.
“Intelligent” does not mean that everyone will like it, and later no one will be indignant: “What for!” (by the way, not everyone like punks as well as rain and snow)
Okay. What’s the difference between developing a reasonable species and those ones that are considered unreasonable? Self-consciousness and the ability to predict the consequences. I will not go into the concrete realization and quality of forecasts. In any form, the possibility of intelligent setting and reaching the final goal is a huge advantage over the unsolicited, probabilistic search for something new, suitable for the goal.
As an example, I will give the following approximate analogy. Let us suppose, “A” is something old, and “B” is something new. We take a board of 20×20 cm and place on it some black balls and some white ones in the way to get letter “A” on a white background. We consider it as the original gene composition in a hypothetical site of DNA. How does the mutation mechanism work? Usually, due to external influence or Brownian movement, a section of “balls” is moved to another place or disappeared at all.
The option with disappearance, for the simplicity of our estimation model, we do not consider. If you think that without considering the option with disappearing some of the genes, I impoverishe the picture, you can examine your own model built by yourselves. I will be happy to study its detailed description.
Now we randomly remove one ball at a time and put it to somewhere else, shifting the others, sometimes changing their places, by a random number generator. Once out of ten we take two balls. Once out of 100 we take three balls. We take into account that modification of one bit of information is more likely than two bits. I will not even go into theory of combinations to explain that the probability of getting “B” from “A” in this way, let’s say, for a thousand permutations, is much less than if purposefully, with tweezers, transfer the balls in the right place or make new balls and place them, as desired.
So, theoretically, artificial evolution should be much faster than natural, creating new species, that the comparison between a snail and an airplane is too weak. Then why isn’t this happening?
Firstly, in most cases, we don’t know what we want to get from “A”. We don’t know what the desired “B” looks like on a molecular level, what the results of the body’s work should be without any side effects. We know what we want in the final result of the functioning of the organism. But we do not know how to translate the desired “I want to..” into the language of the mutual location of the molecules. Current computational systems are too weak to calculate the relationship between something, expressed in words, and molecular structures which corresponding to it.
If you’ve noticed, the CPU frequency races ended in 2006-2008. The obstacle for computer industry is the physics of phenomena: constraints are already a consequence of the fundamental laws of our world. A revolution is needed, like a transition from a lamp to a transistor. I think it will be. Maybe quantum modeling systems will be created. But it is an IMHO. At the present the industry is silent. I have a processor with the same clock speed in about four gigahertz as some years ago. Of course, now it has more than one cores. However, I would like to have not only more cores but also clock speed in 10, 100, 1,000 gigahertz, to have continuous building-up.
There is also one more obstacle on the way of the correct and predictable modeling of new organisms: high system emergentness. The term “emergentness ” I first met in ” Science of Discworld” by Terry Pratchett. It means such a siytem that if we know how individual elements work, we still can’t predict the behavior of the entire system. That doesn’t mean we’ll never be able to build a model of the whole system, but the model will be very complex and with elements of instability, like weather events have.
That is, when there are two ways of system action, it is possible to prognose only probabilistically which one will be acted. If there is such an election in the system’s development, it is predictable only probabilistically. In addition, if any subsystem of the larger system is not taken into account or an incorrect assessment of the meaning of its work then that can completely distort the resulting model.
In biology, specific mutation-correcting proteins are an example of such a system. The activity of protein molecules does not depend directly on the sequence of the amino acids of its constituents, but on the form the molecule takes after folding. And these specific proteins are to give other proteins the right shape, causing them to fold properly, even if there are mutations in the protein and they have to have a slightly different shape. They work as a form for folding, forcing even a slightly defective molecule to fold into the required shape, at which its functionality is preserved. And it works as long as the environment is in some kind of range. When the temperature becomes extreme, this regulating protein is switched off and a highway is opened to new mutations. And such molecular systems, which regulate (or cease to regulate) other systems under certain external conditions, are numerous. Some systems switch on only at very rare combinations of factors. Most of them apparently have not been explored.
To talk about the guaranteed, calculated creation of new organisms with predictable properties, you have to know multitude of these complex interacting systems. And then you can create the required ones at once by following the chain: set the properties – calculate – create and they are ready to be used.
It’s a long way off. Although, if it is not important to know all aspects of the resulting organism, but only to emphasize several properties or to obtain a couple of new properties, with the possibility of controlling several generations after that, before releasing the new one, then the task is simplified many orders of magnitude.
Secondly, the social brake of the process. Why would a reasonable species create competitors for itself? Why would one radically change oneself? Why…
I suppose that everything is clear.
Numerous legal laws are on guard against genetic changes and, in fact, on guard against manipulation of life beings (the Cloning Prohibition Act, etc.). You have no idea how many laws limit biotech companies. I’m not going to judge it or welcome it, I’m just looking at the situation. Eugenics has long been banned. The word “Eugenics” itself became a dirty word to many people because the Third Reich in World War II actively researched the subject. But they also used the Indian symbol of swastika and a lot more. Should the soap be banned because the German troops in World War II used it regularly? Well, the science has got under the hammer.
Why did I consider a white hole? The reason for that is following: one can emerge from it (to be more exact, appear in a new place, which might be in a different universe, if you deal with some astrophysical hypotheses), only having got into a black hole at first, having plunged under its event horizon – under the border where even light can’t get out.
What happens there is out of our control, power and knowledge.
Imagine this situation: there is a techno-bio-advanced society having protection (whatever it is: the existence of nuclear or biological weapons and the willingness to use them – you can make up your own option) from enforcing and enforced will of the world community. It does not seek world domination through territorial conquest, that is, it is non-aggressive in the military sense. And so it decided, spitting on the current biological experimentation restriction laws, to start a eugenic program, previously having quietly gathred all the scientists interested in the theme. The program is executed inside the society under the slogan “Let the kids be better than us” or “Man is not the end product of evolution” or something like that. The underlying cause of such a solution can be complex, as always. On the one hand, there may be the development of life extension and rejuvenation technologies, organ transplants from your clones – there is ample scope for dreams, and vast variety of ideas on the theme has been already created and worked out in science fiction. On the other hand, there are idealists and dreamers of science, on the third hand – realists of science as well.
What do I mean by realism in this context? That only by doing something unnatural (and possibly illegal, until legitimized ex post facto) you can create the germ of that which subsequently will become a new nature, a new standard.
So, such a society has been created, and its actions run counter to the views of those concerned. Most people will, as always, not care, because that will be beyond their daily interests. This Evingerist society on the approach of a truly revolutionary result will go beyond the event horizon, observing the secrecy regime. The disaffected outside the Evingerist society will make attempts to “deconstruct” it and gain access to it for “world public”, but, as I said, if it has some counterbalance to direct military aggression, it will be able to hold out isolated for some time. It will be difficult to limit its informationally when there are sympathizers in other countries. It will be difficult to credibly declare it as a “world evil”. It is very difficult to explain to an ordinary person that someone, who is somewhere far, not sticking out and not throwing bombs at civilians, not dealing with cyberterrorism and not stealing credit card numbers, is such a worldwide evil that military actions are needed to destroy it. Besides, the military actions could harm an ordinary person.
And as a result, something new may emerge from uncontrolled research and experimentations. Unlike technical novelties, it will be self-replicating, competitive and intelligent. What exactly will it be – you can multivariantly guess for a long time (I do not say you can indefinitely guess, because it is not true). For example:
Intelligent underwater race.
People with obvious cardinally more powerful gumption, which will give them a guaranteed advantage in practically any activity.
People with additional sense organs allowing them to communicate among themselves imperceptibly to the people without such organs.
People with hereditary transmission of information.
A metabolism that allows people to eat whatever they want, including cellulose, and makes it possible for people to do without dwellings.
People who do not require sleep or other types of rest (as a heart muscle does). By the way, such people do not really need a dwelling. (About sleepless people, IMHO, is well considered in Nancy Kress’s novel “The Spanish Beggars”.)
Something that takes them outside the scope of the rest of humanity, gives them an advantage, does not interbreed with the main human type or gives sterile offspring, and something that doesn’t allow them to be quickly exterminated. For example, as I said, the aquatic habitat. All the oceans are their world.
That is, from an evolutionary perspective, there’s going to be a new one coming out of nowhere. The artificial evolutionary process will be brief, practically instantaneous. Going back to the astrophysics analogy, immersion in a black hole – compactification of the people interested in Euingeria; going away beyond the event horizon – the Euingerist society becomes inaccessible to the rest of the world; and then the effect of the white hole – emergeing of something new.
And that new one will emerge not in Cloud Cuckooland, as it would be in the case of advanced space flights and extraterrestrial settlements, but that new one will be near us and will compete with us. Or, even without competing (due to diverse habitats and interests), it may prove inconvenient for religious or moral reasons which will be quite sufficient for a conflict with unpredictable consequences.
This is not an apocalypse scenario, but an ordinary consideration of the possibilities that are quite likely to emerge from the current development of humanity. The emergence of such communities is possible, because not everyone has a craving for calm and permanence that outweighs the curiosity and desire to create something that is better than us, more viable than us. Perhaps we also be created somehow by creatures that have come a long way of development, fustier and more stupid than we are, but some of them have created their modified descendants, us, and we are the next step in the creations of eugenics. And the creatures displaced the creators. In fact, that may be the sense of maximum free, semi-anarchist, highly technical communities, where order is maintained only by owing to the high intelligence of members and the closed of societies from outsiders. They are growth points and mutation points at the same time.