Manual Breaking Free (The Genetic Revolution Book 1)

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In each case, nature would provide the models: solar cells copied from leaves, steely fibers woven spider-style, shatterproof ceramics drawn from mother-of-pearl, cancer cures compliments of chimpanzees, perennial grains inspired by tallgrass, computers that signal like cells, and a closed-loop economy that takes its lessons from redwoods, coral reefs, and oak-hickory forests. The biomimics are discovering what works in the natural world, and more important, what lasts.

After 3. The more our world looks and functions like this natural world, the more likely we are to be accepted on this home that is ours, but not ours alone. This, of course, is not news to the Huaorani Indians. Virtually all native cultures that have survived without fouling their nests have acknowledged that nature knows best, and have had the humility to ask the bears and wolves and ravens and redwoods for guidance. A few years ago, I began to wonder too. After three hundred years of Western Science, was there anyone in our tradition able to see what the Huaorani see?

My own degree is in an applied science—forestry—complete with courses in botany, soils, water, wildlife, pathology, and tree growth. Especially tree growth. As I remember, cooperative relationships, self-regulating feedback cycles, and dense interconnectedness were not something we needed to know for the exam. In reductionist fashion, we studied each piece of the forest separately, rarely considering that a spruce-fir forest might add up to something more than the sum of its parts, or that wisdom might reside in the whole.

There were no labs in listening to the land or in emulating the ways in which natural communities grew and prospered.

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This hand-in-glove harmony was a constant source of delight to me, as well as an object lesson. In seeing how seamlessly animals fit into their homes, I began to see how separate we managers had become from ours. Despite the fact that we face the same physical challenges that all living beings face—the struggle for food, water, space, and shelter in a finite habitat—we were trying to meet those challenges through human cleverness alone.

The lessons inherent in the natural world, strategies sculpted and burnished over billions of years, remained scientific curiosities, divorced from the business of our lives. But what if I went back to school now? Could I find any researchers who were consciously looking to organisms and ecosystems for inspiration about how to live lightly and ingeniously on the Earth? Could I work with inventors or engineers who were dipping into biology texts for ideas? Was there anyone, in this day and age, who regarded organisms and natural systems as the ultimate teachers? Happily, I found not one but many biomimics.

They are fascinating people, working at the edges of their disciplines, in the fertile crests between intellectual habitats.

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Where ecology meets agriculture, medicine, materials science, energy, computing, and commerce, they are learning that there is more to discover than to invent. They know that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved the problems we are struggling to solve. Our challenge is to take these time-tested ideas and echo them in our own lives. Once I found the biomimics, I was thrilled, but surprised that there is no formal movement as yet, no think tanks or university degrees in biomimicry.

This was strange, because whenever I mentioned what I was working on, people responded with a universal enthusiasm, a sort of relief upon hearing an idea that makes so much sense. Biomimicry has the earmarks of a successful meme, that is, an idea that will spread like an adaptive gene throughout our culture. Part of writing this book was my desire to see that meme spread and become the context for our searching in the new millennium.

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I see the signs of nature-based innovation everywhere I go now. And yet I wonder, why now? Though it seems perfectly sensible to echo our biological ancestors, we have been traveling in just the opposite direction, driven to gain our independence. Our journey began ten thousand years ago with the Agricultural Revolution, when we broke free from the vicissitudes of hunting and gathering and learned to stock our own pantries.

But these revolutions were only a warm-up for our real break from Earthly orbit—the Petrochemical and Genetic Engineering Revolutions. Now that we can synthesize what we need and rearrange the genetic alphabet to our liking, we have gained what we think of as autonomy. Strapped to our juggernaut of technology, we fancy ourselves as gods, very far from home indeed.

We are still beholden to ecological laws, the same as any other lifes-form. The most irrevocable of these laws says that a species cannot occupy a niche that appropriates all resources—there has to be some sharing. Any species that ignores this law winds up destroying its community to support its own expansion. Tragically, this has been our path. We began as a small population in a very large world and have expanded in number and territory until we are bursting the seams of that world.

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But still brilliant somehow, despite himself. If This Book Could Be Summarized in An Image, That Image Would Be: Some fat, rich bald guy boring you to death over cappuccinos with inane stories about living in France and smoking skinny cigarettes with Umberto Eco while you stab yourself in the face with a sugar spoon repeatedly trying to make it all stop.

See below. Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual. And as freedom encourages a multiplicity of attempts, it unavoidably multiplies failure. Read This Book If… …you want to know why people give up their identities for some insane cause. He had invented psychoanalysis, brought the science of psychology to the mainstream, and was highly regarded in intellectual circles around Europe. Then World War I broke out, and destroyed, well, just about everything. Freud was deeply moved by the devastation and fell into a deep depression and secluded himself for much of the s.

Civilization and Its Discontents was the result of this depression. The book makes one simple argument: that humans have deep, animalistic instincts to eat, kill, or fuck everything. Freud argued that civilization could only arise when enough humans learned to repress these deeper and baser urges, to push them into the unconscious where according to his model they would fester and ultimately generate all sorts of neuroses.

Freud basically came to the conclusion that as humans, we had one of two shitty options in life: 1 repress all of our basic instincts to maintain some semblance of a safe and cooperative civilization, thus making ourselves miserable and neurotic or 2 to let them all out and let shit hit the fan. And as an Austrian Jew, he ran for the hills. The hills being London, of course. He lived out the last years of his life in a city being bombed into oblivion. And doing it convincingly.

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  4. He then argues that because of this, in the year all of our brains are going to be digitally encrypted and uploaded to the cloud where we will all form a single, immortal consciousness that will control all computing power on the planet. And the fucked up part is that some of his explanation of how this is going to happen makes sense.

    And the book reads like it was written by a middle-aged engineer who took too much acid and now desperately needs to speak with a therapist. I poke fun at Ray, but the technological possibilities presented in this book are truly mind-boggling. And we will undoubtedly see a significant percentage of them in our lifetime. Medical nanobots that live in the bloodstream that we wireless upload vaccines to. Genetic programming for newborns so parents can choose not only the physical characteristics of their children but their talents as well.

    The whole immortality, one-computerized-world-consciousness thing? He said he chose embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a major problem in China. All of the men in the project had HIV and all of the women did not, but the gene editing was not aimed at preventing the small risk of transmission, he said. The fathers had their infections deeply suppressed by standard HIV medicines and there are simple ways to keep them from infecting offspring that do not involve altering genes. Instead, the appeal was to offer couples affected by HIV a chance to have a child that might be protected from a similar fate.

    He said the gene editing occurred during in vitro fertilisation. A single sperm was placed into a single egg to create an embryo. Then the gene-editing tool was added. When the embryos were three to five days old, a few cells were removed and checked for editing.

    Couples could choose whether to use edited or unedited embryos for pregnancy attempts. In all, 16 of 22 embryos were edited, and 11 embryos were used in six implant attempts before the twin pregnancy was achieved, He said. Tests suggest that one twin had both copies of the intended gene altered and the other twin had just one altered, with no immediate evidence of harm to other genes, He said. People with one copy of the gene can still get HIV.

    Musunuru said that even if editing worked perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes faced higher risks of contracting certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and of dying from flu. Since there are many ways to prevent HIV infection and it is treatable if it occurs, those other medical risks are a concern. There also are questions about the way He said he proceeded.

    He gave official notice of his work long after he said he started it, on 8 November.