TED Conversations

Vijay Babu Jayaraj

IT Analyst, Tata Consultancy Services Limited

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Artificially cascading knowledge from generation to generations through genes.

I am a layman to genetic engineering or neural science, so i might sound crazy, but anyway here is what i want to say. I used to wonder why carnivores animals eat only meat and not plants even when they were brought up in isolation, how herbivores animals distinguish right plant to eat amongst the various species of plants including the poisonous plants, why do creepers only creep and how do they learn to creep. I learnt that these information are present in their genes which are being transferred from generations to generations. This transferring of such information through genes is the vital element for evolution. I do not know which part of the gene stores such information and how much capacity of information it stores, but if we can identify that part and find a means to artificially add extra information like knowledge about science into it, then the future generations will know scientific facts and theories right at the time of their birth itself. I do not know whether it is plausible, but i wish it is to be so.


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  • Aug 31 2011: Vijay,

    What you are suggesting could lead to the extermination of the human species. Our brains and bodies are learning machines that adapt to the environments in which they are born. As technology advances, do we need to remember how to build a lead roof on a cathedral, hand make a barrel, or carve wooden utensils? There are not that many people who remember how to use the full suite of DOS commands from 30 years ago, and why should we remember?

    Today, the half life of medical knowledge is less than 2 years. That means that half of what was understood to be true 2 years ago is now obsolete. Why would I want that obsolete information encoded in my genes? You look like you are a young man, the IT world will not look familiar to you in 25 years...Imagine how it looks to me, I have been in it for 40 years!

    An interface that enhances the learning of current information would be great, but encoding data in our genes would be a waste of time.
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      Sep 1 2011: If we can manipulate the genome, we have become immortal! This is the ultimate goal. We'll merge with computers & have the longevity of the universe to work-out the bugs. Scientist have already successfully copied the genome of a cell. IBM managed to create a processor that may "think" one day. Science never goes backwards. We are always advancing... Even when we make mistakes.

      We may live (much) longer than the universe if the fabled "black hole engine" is ever built. Provided a huge asteroid doesn't hit our planet within the next 400 years. We'll probably be good & immortal by then!
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      Sep 1 2011: Hi Don, today we haven't fully understood the genes. We do not know whether there is space in genes to add more information. I think understanding the genes, having a complete control over them and to find ways to manipulate them to get the expected result of what we want might take more than 200-300 years, and who knows, what i have wished for might be the very need of mankind. Please share your idea of what the human need might be after 300 years in the below link:
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        Sep 2 2011: You don't add informations to genes, you add information to the genome. Gene is just a word for a functional unit of DNA. It's possible to do, nature did it over the course of 3 billion years.

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