When a gene-edited butterfly flaps its wings, evolution evolves
September 19, 2017 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Scientists Can Now Repaint Butterfly Wings - "Thanks to CRISPR, scientists are studying animal evolution in ways that were previously thought to be impossible." posted by kliuless (29 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well so much for wildlife not having corporate logos all over it
posted by XMLicious at 3:32 AM on September 19 [39 favorites]


My sci-fi time travel fantasy now includes using CRISPR to repaint tulips and travel back to 1637 to briefly become the richest man in the Netherlands.
posted by peeedro at 3:41 AM on September 19 [28 favorites]


Or you could travel back 65 million years and swap that butterfly by the path with one whose wings say TRUMP.
posted by rory at 3:56 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


Promising news for the makers of Rorschach tests.
posted by rongorongo at 4:03 AM on September 19 [2 favorites]


Hello? Haven't Scientists heard that 'Orange' is the new 'Black'? They painted the butterfly wings the same color.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:09 AM on September 19


Makes you wonder about the validity of CRISPRing back "not really but look just like" extinct breeds.

Yeah, I am NOT thinking butterflies will lead us down the Jurassic path to doom.
posted by Samizdata at 4:39 AM on September 19


DO YOU WANT FRINGE? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET FRINGE??!
posted by Fizz at 5:06 AM on September 19 [7 favorites]


The science happens at 1:00 mark.
posted by Fizz at 5:07 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Well so much for wildlife not having corporate logos all over it

Corporations selecting logos that are evolutionarily advantageous. "I like it, JR. It's brash. Bold. But perhaps a tad too bold. The birds will have a field day with this logo. We need something that will be plain to the human eye but a bit subtler to the sparrow's. Call Jennie down in ornithological optics."

And then zombie logos flitting about long after the corporations have died. "Mommy, what's a MetaFilter?"
posted by pracowity at 5:11 AM on September 19 [17 favorites]


"Mommy, what's a MetaFilter?"

“Shhhsh dear, it's not polite to talk with your mouth full, now eat your Facebook and be quiet.”
posted by Fizz at 5:20 AM on September 19 [15 favorites]


Pretty sure that this is how you get slake moths.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:20 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]




My sci-fi time travel fantasy now includes using CRISPR to repaint tulips and travel back to 1637 to briefly become the richest man in the Netherlands.


Quick Wikipedia glance makes it seem like there are two banks that have been continuously in operation in Europe since before Tulip Mania, although I'm not sure how feasible it would be to deposit your speculative gains in either and not have had them expropriated at some point.

I actually really like this as a premise but I'm also an economist so ymmv
posted by dismas at 6:35 AM on September 19 [6 favorites]


they identified a handful of pattern-defining genes, with colorful names like optix, doublesex, and cortex.

AH-HA!!!! I knew it!

wait, i don't know what i know
posted by cooker girl at 7:08 AM on September 19 [18 favorites]


WE DID IT!
posted by drezdn at 7:29 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


Quick Wikipedia glance makes it seem like there are two banks that have been continuously in operation in Europe since before Tulip Mania,

And one of those banks is called First Peeedro's Bank and Trust *Twilight Zone stinger.*
posted by drezdn at 7:32 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Peeedro, your last name isn't Berenberg by chance is it?
posted by dismas at 7:41 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Funny thing, but I could have sworn that was the Berenstein Bank.
posted by Segundus at 7:54 AM on September 19 [8 favorites]


If I actually had a time machine I'd have so many other timeline fixes to take care of before I'd make time to be the Jeffrey Skilling of tulip mania.
posted by peeedro at 7:56 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Then again, if you start with the Tulips, you'd have financing for all the other changes (or maybe just start with Beanie Babies, just remember the sheen is important).
posted by drezdn at 8:26 AM on September 19


Isn't more a case of paint stripping?
posted by No Robots at 9:10 AM on September 19


optix, doublesex, and cortex

Everybody knows cortex doublesex is the best sex. Though the optix can be rather disturbing...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:37 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Thanks to CRISPR

Ima go to my fridge and do this RIGHT NOW
posted by univac at 9:56 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


Previously "art installation involving thousands of genetically modified butterflies" was pure Batman villain but now I just need to get funding.
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


That's a real dick move, Whelk! The only TRUE butterfly is the deadly Monarch butterfly! Soon you shall taste my wrath, like the sting of the lethal Monarch Butterfly!
posted by Samizdata at 11:48 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


Previously "art installation involving thousands of genetically modified butterflies" was pure Batman villain

You said Batman, but I think you meant May Day/Max Zorin.
posted by Fizz at 12:48 PM on September 19


In my next life, I want butterfly wing, patterned skin! Maybe some feelers too! But, I want to be really smart, to get away from the folks that decided to be smart birds, who like to peck at butterflies.
posted by Oyéah at 6:25 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Kliuless:

That Steve Hsu blogpost about the heritability of intelligence is terrifying. I managed to crawl down the rabbit hole of his blog and have left a little shaken.

There are a few conclusions that trouble me from his posts:

First is that there is mounting evidence that intelligence is largely heritable, and something that can thus not be easily solved by the augmentation or adjustment of common public services. No amount of better education is going to fix the fact that me, or many of my peers, were not born to be exceptionally intelligent.

Second is the tacit self-confidence in the intelligence of the commenters and Steve himself, where it appears that on some level the speakers believe themselves to be of the chosen few; thus safe from the indicting state of being normative or limited to sub-genius cognition.

Even in its extreme, intelligence does not shield one from being incorrect, acting on irrational feelings; one is not free from the negative artifacts of our lizard brain. Put more simply, there is a tone of, "because I am smart, my position is correct," that saturates the language of some intelligent people (particularly in STEM) and I find it deeply troubling.

This is increasingly coupled with an embrace of far-right ideology from within STEM. Qualified, clever people are picking up some nasty and violent ideas, while ignoring rational criticisms on the notion that their thought processes are infallible.

Which leads me to my third thought: If you read the comments on that blog, there are apparently qualified or otherwise smart individuals who seem to be mixing quasi-scientific ideas that lean on "traditional knowledge" or material from "alternative publications" (Taki, VDARE, etc.) with the results of the studies posted to mortifying conclusions. This is what troubles me most about the modern scientific study of intelligence and general trait inheritance. While there are conceivably soft and humanitarian reactions one could have towards such information, there is a notable demographic of educated and intelligent [primarily] men who seem to have much crueler intentions. These designs are not always built entirely on the scientific information provided, but instead are built from a combination of preconceived or learned ideas about hierarchy and morals, gut feelings, negative emotions (anger, frustration, contempt) and the data at hand.

This is how you get folks suggesting genocide, or caste systems. Those already occupying the near-top of our social and economic hierarchy feel comfortable with this data because it legitimizes their position, and makes them even less interested in change. There is a dearth of interest in positive solutions and an abundance of smugness, resentment and, at its worst, violent fantasy.

My own admittedly lazily processed examples from the comments:

-A person laments that in a world of hypothetical popular eugenics, where the distribution of intelligence and attractive appearance narrows, "would compromise high achievement".

- Someone starting an argument over how verbal IQ scores are the "cheating" component of Jewish intelligence that allow them to negotiate past other barriers, thus polluting pools of intelligent people (like in education)

- Lots of "This'll show the SJW's" of an invective, vengeful theme

I also notice Steve proposing on one hand that embryo screening for intelligence could be delivered popularly, on a subsidized basis, while in another post he celebrates the potential for rich folks to pave the way. It's hard for me to tell whether or not the most compassionate presentations of such technologies are simply meant to reassure the wary in the public, so that those with the means to do so can leverage them to shore up their positions without repercussions. In other words, I have a creeping suspicion that much of this research will come to be tools of the rich and powerful in reinforcing and formalizing what is already essentially a caste system in our society, regardless of the beneficent assurances broadcasted.

This is not to say that I stand in the way of scientific research where it causes me fear or troubled thoughts. I'm scared of what others will do, is all. I don't know what to do about all this information, what policies should be pursued, and how to thwart any malevolence dispensed in the future with science like this as its vehicle.
posted by constantinescharity at 10:40 AM on September 20


I don't know why intelligence (for whatever metric one wants to use as a yard stick) in Humans being inheritable is such a radical concept. Examples in animal husbandry abound.

Now inherited learning; that freaks me out.
posted by Mitheral at 10:09 PM on September 20


I have a creeping suspicion that much of this research will come to be tools of the rich and powerful in reinforcing and formalizing what is already essentially a caste system in our society, regardless of the beneficent assurances broadcasted... I don't know what to do about all this information, what policies should be pursued, and how to thwart any malevolence dispensed in the future with science like this as its vehicle.

fwiw!
Preparing for Superintelligence: Living the Values of Humanism Today
...humans having knowledge is what makes us distinctly human and gives us great power (and hence great responsibility). I define knowledge in this context as science, philosophy, art, music, etc. that’s recorded in a medium so that it can be shared across time and space. Such knowledge is at the heart of human progress, because it can be improved through the process of critical inquiry. We can fly in planes and feed seven billion people because we have knowledge...

In World After Capital I write that the existence and power of knowledge provides an objective basis for Humanism. Humanism in turn has key value implications, such as the importance of sustaining the process of critical inquiry through which knowledge improves over time. Another key value implication is that humans are responsible for animals, not vice versa. We have knowledge and so it is our responsibility to help say dolphins as opposed to the other way round... We have a long way to go in being responsible to other species in many other regards (e.g., pollution and outright destruction of many habitats). Doing better here is an important way we should be using the human attention that is freed up through automation.

Even more important though is how we treat other humans. This has two components: how we treat each other today and how we treat the new humans when they arrive. As for how we treat each other today, we again have a long way to go. Much of what I propose in World After Capital is aimed at freeing humans to be able to discover and pursue their personal interests. We are a long way away from that. That also means constructing the Knowledge Age in a way that allows us to overcome, rather than re-enforce, our biological differences (see my post from last week on this topic)... Finally, what about the arrival of the new humans. How will we treat them?
(emphasis added ;)

also btw...
Homo Deus by Yuval Harari (Book Review)
For someone who is clearly steeped in history, Harari’s definition of Humanism confounds Enlightenment ideas with those arising from Romanticism. For instance, he repeatedly cites Rousseau as being a key influencer on “Humanism” (putting it in quotes to indicate that this is Harari’s definition of it), but Rousseau was central to the romanticist counter movement to the Enlightenment, as championed by Voltaire. If you want an example of a devastating critique, read Voltaire’s response to Rousseau.

One might excuse this commingling as a historical shorthand, seeing how Romanticism quickly followed the Enlightenment (Rousseau and Voltaire were contemporaries) and how much of today’s culture is influenced by romantic ideas. Harari makes a big point of the latter, frequently criticizing the indulgence in “feelings” that permeates so much of popular culture and has also invaded politics and even some of modern science. But this is a grave mistake as it erases a 200 year history of secular enlightenment-style humanist thinking that does not at all give a primacy to feelings. Harari pretends that we have all followed Rousseau, when many of us are in the footsteps of Voltaire.

This is especially problematic, as there has never been a more important time to restore Humanism, for the very reasons of dramatic technological progress that motivate Harari’s book. Progress in artificial intelligence and in genomics make it paramount that we understand what it means to be human before taking steps to what could be a post human or trans human future. This is a central theme of my book “World After Capital” and I provide a view of Humanism that is rooted in the existence and power of human knowledge. Rather than restate the arguments here, I encourage you to read the book.

Harari then goes on to argue how progress in AI and genetics will undermine the foundations of “Humanism,” thus making room for new “religions” of trans humanism and “Dataism” (which may be a Harari coinage). These occupy the last part of the book and again Harari engages with caricature versions of the positions, which he sets up based on the most extreme thinkers in each camp. While I am not a fan of some of these positions, which I believe run counter to some critical values of the kind of Humanism we should pursue, their treatment by Harari robs them of any intellectual depth... I won’t detail all of these other disagreements now as they are less important than the foundational mis-representation of what Humanism has been historically and the ignorance of what it can be going forward.
posted by kliuless at 11:11 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


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