Transition Synopsis - As Short As Possible



I understand that a synopsis is supposed to be short, probably shorter than this, but this represents about four decades of hard work studying many subjects. It's about as short as I can make it. Read it and it will take you where you have never been before.

This is very complicated, because it is about a very complicated subject, human survival. It is about a rapidly, dangerously, changing world and how humans, our children and descendants, can adapt and thrive in it.

It is also a philosophy. We have other philosophies based on things such as the pursuit of power, wealth, beauty, happiness or other things, but this is based on the persuit of human survival in the evolutionary sense. It is all built upon that foundation.

It is about morality. Moralities are the learned survival strategies that humans use. Their importance is shown by that humans will go to war over their different religions and ideologies. This examines moralities of the past, present and possible future moralities that will serve a philosophy of survival.

It is hard to not see that the world is changing so rapidly. It is so rapid and chaotic that one must be concerned about the future of humanity, particularly if you have children and worry about their future. Many wonder what we can do to make the world a better place. This is to answer that. It also answers far more. The potentials I found were far more than I would have ever expected.

At the same time, while we must adapt to change, this must be comfortable. I could tell you of shining cities based on incredible technologies, but this is about survival and so will be judged by instincts and feelings far older than your intellect. We may fly around the universe one day in Galaxy Class Starships, but your moral instincts do not think about that. They direct people to think of survival in terms of family and community. Survival is the ultimate conservatism and this is framed in that way. Change is risky. This only advocates change for very considered reasons, all based on survival.

While this is largely about morality, how we can survive, it is based on biology, how life is described by science and what I am best at. It uses knowledge from many sciences, but other sources as well. While it is meant to be more than just science, it uses the descriptive and analytic forms of science that are powerful tools of understanding. It is conservatively stated for that reason as well. Like the goal of science, this is about providing understandings, often by simplification and classification, but more by ordering knowledge to make it understandable.

What the first section of this is about has already been written above, how there seems to be such massive Changes. The first part of the book is to describe that in biological terms. So the second section gives a general view of Human Biology, which is partly typical for a mammal, but also pretty unusual in ways. It also gives a view of human ecology to show in a systematic way how the foundations of human ecology are changing perhaps more radically than has even occurred for any specie before.

Following that is a discussion of the work of C. D. Darlington who gave possibly the best description of human social and genetic development during the last 10,000 years as the post neolithic civil society has developed. He described the co-development of crops, technologies, societies and human genetics as peoples and societies have come together hybridizing genetically, socially and technically allowing them to expand world wide. He also described why discussions of heredity have always been discouraged as they have frequently been used as reasons for racism and race wars.

So the third section is about Genetics and is based on his background information about human development and my observations about human heredity. So much has been learned so recently about human genetics and biology. I was originally looking at disease and the problem of antibiotic resistance that was observed early on, but is starting to become of great concern in the medical community as antibiotic resistant forms of diseases become more common. Overall I saw that that and some other issues point to a genetic crisis for humans. That is where I started on this book. I saw human survival at great risk and wanted to see if I could see a path to survival. I found far more than I expected, both problems and potentials. That is the point. It is not just a genetic crisis or disease or moral strategy. A simple biological examination shows how radically the entire human world has changed and is changing. It is best described as that the niche we came from is gone. The niches we are in are transient and to survive, we must develop a new stable niche, a new way to survive. That is the objective of this book.

Now my bias is towards genetics and genetics are very important to this, but the mark of humans is that we adapt behaviorally rather than relying on instincts. That is why the importance of the Morality section that follows the Genetics section, but both are basically given only as introductions to illustrate the problems we face. Then before going into detail on those topics, the Aspirations section discusses human potentials and ... aspirations. What humans have wanted through history and what we might be able to achieve. I think that the potentials described in that section are somewhat amazing, but it is meant more to illustrate what we might want to do with the potentials I described previously in the Morality and Genetics sections. So after the Aspirations section, those sections are visited again to look at what we are and how we can become what we have aspired to. First though are the Genetics and Morality sections that lay out the problems.

We have a number of genetic challenges coming.
1. As said earlier, the first is the problem of disease. Some diseases we will conquer, but diseases have been overcoming defenses for a long time and some will not be so easily to defeat. Classical diseases are coming back in novel resistant forms, such as tuberculosis. Also, what we have seen is that the diseases we encounter often tend to come as novel surprises such as SARS. There are many more people on Earth, living very closely together now and we travel far more. Diseases will be able to spread far more rapidly than in the past. Along with this, one huge change in human ecology as we have adopted technology is that we have changed from a quantity strategy of reproduction, to one of quality where there is a far greater investment in each child. That is a huge change to the foundations of our biological nature. Aside from the human cost of disease, we cannot afford the cost in resources of a traditional mortality rate that was often over 30%.
2. We will have a problem with genetic load. That is defective or ineffective genes broken by natural mutation or during recombination. Parents are having children older now. "Some experts estimate that in 35-year-old women, approximately 1 in 2 eggs are likely to have chromosomal abnormalities; and about 90 percent of eggs are abnormal in women aged 42 or older." Older fathers have "more copy number mutations, including several linked to autism and schizophrenia". I think we will certainly find more associated problems as well.
3. What accentuates these problems is that classical diseases often act as a general selective effect. They introduce toxins or cause the body to heat up and if there is a weak link in the genetic chain, the person dies. This is a bit different than the effect mentioned above of diseases that may be pandemic. Really though this is just another part of the problem that what we call "human progress" is often just the removal of natural selection. It is not just that removing natural selection that is the driver of evolution could cause a somewhat opposite effect, the problem is that it allows the build up of genetic load. That will be disastrous.
4. Another problem is that we need to adapt to a new niche and large part of that adaptation will be genetic.

After years of consideration, including of the biological energetic equation, I concluded that the only possible way for humans to survive and keep technology was to use artificial genetic selection at the zygote level to compensate for those changes. There is much reason to this, but this proposal is a very emotional topic and will be judged by moral instincts far older than intellect, so the moral implications must be immediately considered.
1. It will result in healthy children, families and communities.
2. We have no choice if we want to survive.
3. It will be considered in a context of religious morality further on, but that does not seem to be a problem.
4. The genetic wealth will provide an incredible economic wealth.

Now artificial genetic selection has been considered before, but almost always as a privilege of the privileged class. This cannot be looked at that way. This is something that all humans are subject to. Nicely the technology does not look very expensive, particularly compared to the benefits. Also, humans have shown that they reject slavery. To have a group that practiced artificial selection and one that could not, would amount to slavery and cause a moral conflict that could not be sustained. No group could survive even with our current technology, without practicing artificial selection. There are more reasons discussed in the details of the book.

The pluses are that everyone could have superior health, beauty and brains. There are three levels of artificial selection:
1. Removal of bad or broken genes. There are few bad genes as nature does not tolerate them. There are some though and some that come from viruses that can occasionally cause nasty problems. Mostly it would be about selection against the broken genes mentioned above that make up genetic load.
2. Selection for superior genes. What is it that you respect the most about yourself or your mate? There is no natural guarantee that your children would inherit it. Natural selection is a slow random process in general. Artificial selection could be far faster and more directed. In the past, physical health has been far more important than beauty and beauty far more important than intellect, particularly the traits suited to technology. It is intellect and beauty that artificial selection could most easily enhance, but it is health that we will most need because of disease.
3. Selection for the stable hybrid. C. D. Darlington described how in the time of civilization, which was too short for significant genetic mutations to occur, there was great genetic change and development caused both by powerful natural selective forces as well as by the hybridization of different peoples and races. Hybrids tend to be robust and sort of have the potentials of both parents. The trouble is that the genes do not fit together perfectly so the generations following the initial hybrid may not be as strong as even the parentals. This is basic biology. Over time though, with back crossing and natural selection, the hybrid becomes stable and is greater than either parental tribe. It is what made the vital, energetic peoples of the modern world, but at great human cost. With artificial selection, that cost could be minimized. Humans of all tribes are fairly closely related. With the knowledge and technique, most all offspring would qualify as stable hybrids and in actuality would be after few generations. Everyone could have the best potentials of humanity.

There are a few points that this offers.
1. It would make classical racism meaningless. Instead of as in natural situations where you look at another tribe as a competitor, you would look at them as potentially having genes that your offspring might want. Also artificial selection would be used to perpetuate your genes instead of them being potentially lost by natural circumstance.
2. Those that have the least have the most to gain. Sure, those that have superior health, beauty and brains have much to gain, but those that do not, have the most to gain the quickest.
3. It is the greatest form of wealth and is perpetually handed down to your descendants. Think of the value of health, beauty and intellect. What is the monetary cost of genetic based diseases such as cancer, heart disease, schizophrenia and the rest of the long list that is in the touched upon in the Known Genetics Traites page. It has been asked, "would you rather be healthy or wealthy". The answer is pretty universally for health. Is there any indication that people desire beauty? Would they use artificial selection to increase it? I think that answer is easy.

There is far more detail to this and there are questions about moral implications, hazards, methods and just what to do with the potentials, but those must be considered in greater depth in the book. It may sound futuristic, but it is already being done to prevent some nastier diseases. Most important it is moral and in line with human moral instinct. We want the best for our children. It is not so fashionable in a world where we do not deal with plants, animals and nature daily to think in terms of heredity, but we do think this way.

As said before though, humans also adapt behaviorally. We use strategies to survive and those strategies are called moralities. The importance of moral systems can only be suggested by how humans hold them and defend them. The problem is that most moral systems are based on authority and precedence from religion and history. They are not meant to be examined and the foundations of these beliefs can no longer be defended in this critical time. In the future, moral strategies must be based on reason and understanding or they will not be used or even respected. We are already seeing this currently. This is not to say that they do not work. Ancient moral laws like prohibitions against human sacrifice or theft seem like good survival strategies, particularly in the context of society, but we need a better foundation than to say they are true because God said so. This is a vast subject of many topics, that must be considered as they look in the past, present and a future that we desire. It includes organizational systems such as religion, law and politics. It includes ongoing human requirements served by institutions such as education and industry. I call those multi-generational behaviors. It includes traditional topics of morality such as family and relationships, marriage, birth, death and sex. It even includes running as an important moral topic. First though must be a decision about what we want to do, a target to aim for. So the next part is the Aspirations section.

The Aspirations section was never meant to be written, by me anyway. I was trying to use biology to describe how to solve problems from the past, particularly genetic problems, that we face from changes that already are upon us. Aspirations is partly about the future, which is always a bad subject to tackle. Also, the approach to this topic is more controversial than genetics, Still, it may possibly be the most important part of the book. This is hard to describe at all and hard to describe briefly as must be done here.

I was looking at moral topics at the time, trying to list and examine items of strategic importance to survival. A friend of mine though had developed a very militant atheist view and decided to cure the world of religion, starting with me. That seemed odd as I had little interest in religion, because though I have something of a religious background, it did not seem to hold the answers I needed and I don't think I am what you would call religious. Many people trained in modern thought, living in a world of causality and reason, have a problem with a story that is based on magic and must be taken on faith, so we do not often examine it. But he was quite insistent, so though I would probably never have looked there, I applied the methods of analysis I had been taught. I did not expect to find much more than the many that had tried to find this understanding before me, but I think I did and what I found was quite shocking to me.

This is going to be difficult to summarize, so much will have to be left out here, but this is more fully supported in the details of the book.

I started by looking at concepts of Gods and trying to define what is believed. At the time I was describing different Gods such as old spiritual beliefs, Greek Gods, Hindu Gods, some rather obscure thoughts on the topic and particularly the very well known concept of the Christian God, but I was thinking about genetics as I always tend to. A number of pieces came together including philosophy from Michael Polanyi and others, technology trends, neurophysiology, human psychology, lore, cosmology, cybernetics, my studies of genetics and morality as well as some other factors. Suffice to say, a bunch of complicated concepts that had to all be serendipitously aligned and considered together as they are in detail in the book, but cannot be here. ...
Questions about Gods have been asked forever, so in any case what I found is quite interesting and to me was rather shocking, but more importantly it does answer many questions about human survival. Mention of Gods can easily make one forget that survival is the point of this book, but Gods are how humans have always described their highest aspirations and ideals, so whether Gods exist or not they do illustrate human desires and throw light on human potentials. That is why this section is called Aspirations. We also see human aspirations described in literature. The value of looking at these is to offer a target or goal for humans to achieve using our genetic and moral potentials. With those targets, humans can then decide how to use the tools of artificial selection and what moral strategies we want to use to shape how we will survive and what we want to be. We can see what is important to us and how we might achieve it. The potentials are amazing. Also, it may well describe that niche that humans must develop for long term survival.

So then what follows the Aspirations section is to revisit the Genetics discussion and see how we could use the tools of artificial selection and the available genetic potentials of humanity to achieve what we aspire to. It particularly mentions cautions about using such a powerful tool and the importance of following principles of balance if one is to avoid disaster.

The final section is to revisit Morality and survival strategies. While the Genetics section has a start and something of a finish, human moral development must be more open ended. We do have a fair amount to work with and may well even have the most critical parts, but trying to give much detail would be about describing a future that is not yet formed and will be created by people far wiser and knowledgeable than anyone living presently. Hey, but that is the fun part, the unknown adventure of the future. I will say what I can, but I leave the future to the future as I must and is right.