TED Conversations

Mitch SMith


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Should we trust the invisible hand?

James B Glattfelder outlines an emergent entity in his study of transnational company data.

Is this entity trustworthy?

Please state your reasons for trust or otherwise on the assumption that this emergent entity exists.

I'd also be interested in your opinion of whether the entity outlined in the math is essentially separate from the people who created it?


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    Feb 21 2013: Again agreed. However with one reserve: if brains are disrupted, the thinking still seems "normal" to the brain issuing it.

    Did you heard about the miniRNA which appears some 2-300,000 years ago and make the difference between a monkey (ape) and a human being?

    I got the report in French but maybe there is an English link.

    I mention this because if a miniRNA into a gene can change drastically the brain system, we may face a new human in few centuries from now.
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      Feb 21 2013: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC403735/

      Is this it?

      Genetic encoding is not as trait-specific as people generally assume.
      What genes do is to create systems - these systems will have varying degrees of interaction with environmental signals - much of this adaptive range is unknown because it codes for capacity - not specificity.
      We can talk about FOXP2 as teh gene for language, but it will not produce language unless the envoronmental trigger for language also exists.
      Humans and great apes diverged more than 500,000 years ago - this was the branch point of Neanderthal, who also had FOXP2 - as did Denisovan.

      One very interesting thing:
      The Blue Mountains funnelweb spider has toxin specific to 22 species of insect.
      It is also toxic to humans and chimpanzees, but no other primate or mamal.
      It is ranked as teh most toxic spider in the world and lives near my house.
      We are careful - the males come into the house when looking for mates, and the male is far more toxic than the female.
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        Feb 22 2013: Not exactly. I will research the scientific name of the miniNRA. However it is a new discovery from the University of Edimburgh (Scotland) and was published some 3-4 days ago.
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          Feb 22 2013: As I understand it, the RNA is a downstream protien carrier signal from specific DNA codons. But I might have that very wrong. If the encoding mechanism of RNA is different, then the DNA will be expressed very differently.
          I'd love to visit the specific paper!
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      Feb 21 2013: OK I think this is the one:

      The CMP-sialic hydroxylase is mutated - this affects how cell wall sugars operate.
      "Our group recently discovered a human-specific inactivating mutation in the CMP-sialic acid hydroxylase gene, which results in the loss of expression of a common mammalian cell-surface sugar throughout all cells in the human body" (Gagneux P, Varki A.)

      I note that the full paper is on the other side of a pay-wall and therefore part of teh intellectual property market bubble.

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