Genetics Vs. Cybernetics

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Post by Kuruni » Fri Jul 20, 2007 1:19 pm

Orbits wrote:But it looks more like they have Battle Suits and aren't really "True" Cyborgs.
Some are powered suit (G series from Agito), other are genetic mutation (Shin Kamen Rider), other are mythical power (Hibiki) the rest are true cyborg. Few of them like Riderman is partial but most are complete mechanic. Well, some isn't much realistic. For instance, Inui Takumi is normally organic being, but when he transform into Faiz, he become full mechanic being. Notable when he change into Excel form, when chest armors move and reveal his internal chest, you even see the energy core where heart should be.

Well, that's enough for semi-off topic. But most of early Kamen Riders are full cyborg.
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Post by Antares » Fri Jul 20, 2007 1:50 pm

Dean_The_Young said:
But most of the more extreme benefits people are talking about (like something out of Ghost in the Shell) have little to no basis in reality, where as genetics, while difficult and complex, are much firmer based in reality.
I have to say I disagree with you there. It all depends on what you count as a serious scienitific scenario. I'd say they're pretty much on the same line, and in real terms cybernetics will be "easier" to R&D given the general distaste about toying with the human genome. Not all countries are even willing to import genetically enhanced crops, so what makes you think they would rather inject themselves with some funny-juice? If, and that is a fairly big if, you master genetics, you could get rid of diseases, and you could, as you point out, hone the human senses, etc. The one pro I can give freely to genetics is that you would still have your own brain to be supersmart with there; getting a cyber-brain á la GiTS is quite the step to take ("whoops, it seems we erased every happy memory you had").

But I would exclude drugs from this category as they would fall under maintenance as with cybernetic parts. Giving little Jimmy an animals eye, I think, is pretty close to happening already. But on the whole if we talk about the level of genetics described in this thread, we're pretty much on the same line as with cybernetics. I hazard a guess that it will be easier for quite a long time into the future to slap on a (motorized?) prosthesis to compensate for a lost leg than to grow a new one.
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Post by Scorchijs » Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:27 pm

My choice would be ... none of this. I'm satisfied with my own body. I have always been a strong supporter of the "Purity" idea. All those cyborgs or mutants, I see in the Anime, video games, or other shows, they simply disgust me. Why? I don't have a clear answer. It's hard, to find the right words, so that I could write it down.
My physics teacher once told me, that no scientist in the world, was capable of creating a mechanism so complex, yet simple, as a human hand.
In my life, I have witnessed and experienced myself, that you can't gain something, without sacrificing something else instead. This law applies to EVERYTHING, not just genetics and cybernetics.
For example, you mess with genetics, so that your bones become more durable. You succeed, good, but now your bones are denser and therefore - heavier. Now you must eat more food, so that your body could generate more energy, which is required to move your heavy bones. And so on ...

So, in my opinion, there are times, when people seriously underestimate the potential of a "Pure" body.
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Post by Zetsu » Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:52 pm

Except it isn't always that easy. What about those people that are born blind? Should they be told, "Hm, well, we do have the technology/techniques to give you sight, but we don't believe in that and think you should have a "pure" body. Tough luck kid"?
Or what about someone who lost their arm in an accident? If the technology was available, would you deny him a mechanical arm because it isn't "pure"?
There are a lot of cases where modification is unnecessary, but there times when it is. To deny it in its entirety would be to deny those millions of people that could really need it someday.

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Post by Scorchijs » Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:09 pm

Except it isn't always that easy. What about those people that are born blind? Should they be told, "Hm, well, we do have the technology/techniques to give you sight, but we don't believe in that and think you should have a "pure" body. Tough luck kid"?
Or what about someone who lost their arm in an accident? If the technology was available, would you deny him a mechanical arm because it isn't "pure"?
There are a lot of cases where modification is unnecessary, but there times when it is. To deny it in its entirety would be to deny those millions of people that could really need it someday.
That's different. What I meant, was moments when people are unsatisfied with their bodies and want to artificially enhance them, even when they are capable of living a complete life without them.
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Post by Draco Starcloud » Fri Jul 20, 2007 5:51 pm

I think I feel the same way as Scorchijs: if I don't need 'em, don't give me 'em.

That being said, if I had to choose between getting a cybernetic replacement and a mutant-y replacement, I think I'd go with a cybernetic replacement. I think having a mis-matched mutant arm would be a little creepier to see than a robot arm. And heck, maybe I could get artifically grown skin to put over my robot arm. The best of both worlds!
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Post by Dean_the_Young » Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:16 pm

Antares wrote:Dean_The_Young said:
But most of the more extreme benefits people are talking about (like something out of Ghost in the Shell) have little to no basis in reality, where as genetics, while difficult and complex, are much firmer based in reality.
I have to say I disagree with you there. It all depends on what you count as a serious scienitific scenario. I'd say they're pretty much on the same line, and in real terms cybernetics will be "easier" to R&D given the general distaste about toying with the human genome. Not all countries are even willing to import genetically enhanced crops, so what makes you think they would rather inject themselves with some funny-juice? If, and that is a fairly big if, you master genetics, you could get rid of diseases, and you could, as you point out, hone the human senses, etc. The one pro I can give freely to genetics is that you would still have your own brain to be supersmart with there; getting a cyber-brain á la GiTS is quite the step to take ("whoops, it seems we erased every happy memory you had").

But I would exclude drugs from this category as they would fall under maintenance as with cybernetic parts. Giving little Jimmy an animals eye, I think, is pretty close to happening already. But on the whole if we talk about the level of genetics described in this thread, we're pretty much on the same line as with cybernetics. I hazard a guess that it will be easier for quite a long time into the future to slap on a (motorized?) prosthesis to compensate for a lost leg than to grow a new one.
I suppose I phrased what you quoted wrong, as I'm not so much in disagreement in you.

It's just, a number of things in GitS are much farther out of belief than others. AI's? I'll gladly suspend disbelief in favor of those cute jumping spider tanks. Communications with a thought? I'd love it.

But the concept of a cyberbrain and perfect prosthetics bugs me, and that seems to be what most people are envisioning here. While a cyberbrain makes a wonder plot tool like Minonsky particles, putting it in the realm of application is a very serious step away from a more reality-grounded comparison between cybernetics and genetics.

Similar is how many seem to be assuming that prosthetics are going to be perfect, indistinguishable from standard human parts but so much better. But the chances for that are incredibly small, as prosthetics development to date have suggested. The human arm, for example, is infinitely more complex than any human invention to date. It has more functionality than any robotic arm, and does so in a compact and relatively light limit. Prosthetics aren't like that. Not even gundam MS-level limbs match the flexibility of human arms, and come with severe handicaps.

Strength will be one, and weight another. You simply won't be able to have the ability to lift super heavy objects (tm) with your prosthetic arm, because such an arm would have to be so massive and/or so heavy that you wouldn't be able to move it around, let alone be able to take the strain such an action would place on other parts of your body, such as your spine, lets, or shoulders. And any kind of arm such as that definitely won't look anywhere near normal. Nobody with super-prosthetics is going to look like Luke Skywalker or Andrew Waltfeld, a perfectly blended person. They'd be lucky to (ie: won't) even look like a MS arm; there would be a direct trade off between ability and appearance. And it's not like such a limb would be more durable than a human arm, either. At a scale to actually be useful, prosthetic limbs would be almost just as vulnerable as a human limb. You won't be able to shield yourself from all danger with your prosthetic arm, because chances are that those bullets will go straight through that arm, tear up the machinery inside, and then go out. You might not feel pain from such a wound, but the dead weight will certainly be there.

Are super prosthetics cool? Sure. But when faced with their limitations, in an either-or choice between reasonable development of prosthetics and what it involves with the human body and reasonable development of genetics and all that that it involves with the human body, I'd first go with the genetics. I'll take my flexible, self-repairing arm (with minor improvements) over a clunckard that weighs me down and can't do things as easily as my natural arm.
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Post by Vyron » Sat Jul 21, 2007 6:52 am

I don't think you've quite explain why using genetics will be better than using cybernetics. Yes while it is tru that having an exact replica of a normal human arm is better, it is also a lot harder to make than a mechanical replacement.

Trying to grow any reasonable mass of organic material should be a challenged; there are many things in the genome that can go wrong in forced cell replication. For one thing, the new parts many be incompatable on a genetic level, or there many be eventual degradation like how that clone of the sheep died. And there is also the possiblilty of cells overgrowing, either as tumors or as cancer. I'm not going to say I am an expert on biology, but I'm just saying that if there is a possiblity that something can go wrong then it probably will go wrong at sometime in the real world.

As for a mechanical arm, the worst that it can be is that it isn't as flexible as an organic arm, or that it doesn't receive commands correctly. If we assume a system like that used in FMA, then mechanical parts shouldn't be able to adverisely affect the original body, while in genetics there are a lot more factors to consider when you are integrating something foreign, or when you are growing something in a lab. And since an organic arm is more complex than a robotic arm, it will have much more room for errors to occur.

I think genetics is somthing harder to wield correctly verse cybernetics.

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Post by Aegis » Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:13 pm

Orbits wrote: There are limits to genetics but that's not to say those limits are small. Cyborgs are nice but flesh and bone can be superior, especially combat scenarios. Put two equaly trained a forces against each other, one with regenerative healing factor, superhuman senses, strength, stamina, agility, and reflexes and give them some guns & equipment the other who probably runs on batteries and has a life support system, guns for arms and limited super-strength, agility, and reflexes and some sensors which all rely on how effective their batteries are. I'd say the genetically modified has the upper hand since they are self efficient and only require "food" or "energy" (something inserted through syringe maybe?)
OK, see, this is the problem. This isn't really a debate about cybernetics versus genetics no more. Now this is talk about having cool powers, to which the kind you're talking about is truly less plausible (if not outright impossible) to have, as opposed to cybernetics where, while it's still way, way, WAY too over glorified, it's still the more reasonable and more possible to have if you want to gain super strength and the like. The reality is, because the human body is still made up of flesh and blood, a genetically enhanced superhuman really can't gain the level of superpowers you're saying due to the deficiencies inherit in the body, plus the fact that they're so incredibly fragile, period. Nevermind messing with the gene pool, the body itself is prone to being bled to death via a paper cut, nevermind prone to being burnt up by radiation. In order to gain those special powers you're talking about? Just as in cybernetics you'll have to change the part very radically, so too is it necessary to do so with genetics. This is not as simple as cosmetic surgery; we're talking about a radical change in physique in order to have super speed, super strength, lasers shooting out of your eyes, etc, etc, etc.

And as for food to fuel the body? Last I checked, it still requires a person to eat on a regular basis to maintain simply the normal body functions. In order to maintain those powers, a person is gonna have to eat lots of food, and I mean LOTS of food, moreso than Son Goku devouring a buffet. Eating food and recharging some sort of power cell isn't all that different, other than the fact that the former is just tasty.
The point is, cyborg aren't all that and a bag of chips either.
And again, no one here is disagreeing with the fact that cybernetics has its flaws nor am I saying that cybernetics is as glorious as sci-fi makes them out to be. However, the only reason why genetics is as hyped as it is happens to be because flesh and blood looks more cool and because a person with superpowers but still looks human is more pleasant to look at. Otherwise, genetics is far worse off as far as developing powers are concerned than a mechanized body part.

If I want super powers a la Son Goku, then, yeah, I'd rather choose that over having my flesh and blood removed just because I like having flesh and blood. :P I mean, it's the ideal in which you have all the grand powers without sacrificing anything. But if we're talking which is the more likely enhancement to have, then cybernetics is the better option.
Vyron wrote: For one thing, the new parts many be incompatable on a genetic level, or there many be eventual degradation like how that clone of the sheep died. And there is also the possiblilty of cells overgrowing, either as tumors or as cancer. I'm not going to say I am an expert on biology, but I'm just saying that if there is a possiblity that something can go wrong then it probably will go wrong at sometime in the real world.
There's also the important fact that, in order to grow something on a cellular level, it takes time. LOTS of time. Growing cell tissues is one thing, but totally reconstructing an arm is another. Lizards and the like can regrow certain parts of the body like their tail due to their smaller size and simplicity of the part. Humans are larger and more complex, so it's gonna take MUCH longer to even grow the necessary parts, nevermind getting the parts right.

Prosthetics? They can be very complicated as well, but in comparison, not only is it quicker, but due to measures in manufacturing parts and the like, it's much more efficient and less likely to create flaws.

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Post by His Divine Shadow » Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:28 am

http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/07/24/bion ... index.html

This one's been making the rounds.

My $.02? Both. There's always room for improvement, even on God's design.
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Post by Dean_the_Young » Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:39 pm

Vyron wrote:I don't think you've quite explain why using genetics will be better than using cybernetics. Yes while it is true that having an exact replica of a normal human arm is better, it is also a lot harder to make than a mechanical replacement.

Trying to grow any reasonable mass of organic material should be a challenged; there are many things in the genome that can go wrong in forced cell replication. For one thing, the new parts many be incompatable on a genetic level, or there many be eventual degradation like how that clone of the sheep died. And there is also the possiblilty of cells overgrowing, either as tumors or as cancer. I'm not going to say I am an expert on biology, but I'm just saying that if there is a possiblity that something can go wrong then it probably will go wrong at sometime in the real world.
Having a mastery of genetics (in this case being able to isolate, trigger, replace, or manipulate a specific gene at will) would cancel out many of these potential problems. There will never be such a thing as cancer with genetic mastery, because you can simply turn off or limit the genetic malfunction that has triggered the uncontrolled growth. There won't be an incompatibility issue if the offered replacement is a genetic clone of the original, or if you go and turn off the piece that detects the incompatibility. Once you fix the degradation factor (and I'm pretty sure they already have leads on how to do that), you won't have to worry about an arm or leg withering on you.

As for errors and mistakes in the process, sure. There would be massive teething problems in getting it all worked out. But as long as you are willing to both take the time and have test subjects (either willing or not), you can work them out. In fact, correcting a specific mistake would be the best way to work out how to make a change in the first place. Something like "So I accidentally changed gene sequence A to B instead of sequence C to D? Let me change B back to A, and I'll have experience for sequence C...". But the overall question was "which would be better", not "which would be easier".

As for a mechanical arm, the worst that it can be is that it isn't as flexible as an organic arm, or that it doesn't receive commands correctly.

This is a gross understatement. Take the article another person posted below; the new cutting edge being the ability to "turn a doorknob". Undoubtedly the technology will get smoother in the future. But my trusty arm could pick up balls and cubes in a matter of months, can feel texture and direct pressure, and even pain (which is a good thing in the evolutionary sense). This man will likely never be able to type well on a computer again; his arm won't be strong enough to lift simple boxes; at any sudden jolt that would just jostle a normal person, the electric motors in his arm can be misaligned and made useless. And this artificial limb sounds like it is a direct bone attachment prosthetic, arguably the most promising of all prosthetics for restoring utility of a hand. If it is, this man will likely never be allowed to as much as jog again, because the impact of even jogging has the potential to break his bone and render the entire arm useless. He can forget about pulling a trigger.

Prosthetics are not only clumsy, weak, and somewhat flimsy, they are fragile, just as much or more than a human being.
If we assume a system like that used in FMA, then mechanical parts shouldn't be able to adverisely affect the original body,

Horrible, horrible, horrible example. FMA is steam punk, which isn't exactly strongly connected to physics. In all honesty, half of what Ed does should rip his arm out of its connection, or at least see it shattered. Ed should be walking at something like a 20 degree tilt to compensate for the extra weight. The number of times he alchemizes or whatever his arm should ruin it for good. But that arm is far too heavy, far to dexterous, and far too underpowered (and doesn't even have a real basis for obeying his brain signals) too be brought up in an argument about plausibility.



while in genetics there are a lot more factors to consider when you are integrating something foreign,


Would you mind defining "foreign" in this case? Are you talking about putting a gun onto ones arm (a stupid idea for biological or prosthetics), or more like growing a blade at one's elbow (which could be done as a bone extension, but would also be a bad idea)?

or when you are growing something in a lab. And since an organic arm is more complex than a robotic arm, it will have much more room for errors to occur.
The complexity of the task is only really a problem in the run up to mastering the process. Sure it would take time, but this isn't like the scientists are practicing on themselves. You make the experiment on a test subject, and only make small changes until you understand what each one does. Once you have the small changes done, then you go progressively up. People will die from the screwups (and even the fatal non-screwups). But people will die from cybernetics experiments, so I don't see the problem.
I think genetics is something harder to wield correctly verse cybernetics.
Harder to master? Of course. More time-consuming? Count on it. But I honestly believe that realistic cybernetics are inferior to the natural body, and genetics gives us not only a chance to replace lost parts (they've already regrown a lost paw on one furry creature or another), but you can also make adjustments* and tweaks to improve the human body and life while you're at it.


*Such tweaks that I can believe as plausible include such things as expanding the human vision to more parts of the color spectrum, eradicating diseases, keeping neural pathways healthier and stronger (fighting Alzheimers), producing an ideal hormonal balance/production to promote a healthier and stronger body, slightly (minutely) altering bond density/mass for stronger(heavier) or nimbler (lighter) skeletal system, reinforcing joints to make them more flexible and able to hold more weight, boosting ATP production for more energy potential, stronger lungs, faster/smoother brain synapses (boost thought speed marginally), and so on. None of these would make anyone a perfect soldier by any stretch of the imagination, but they could all be an edge.
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Post by Antares » Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:29 am

This is an interesting discussion because I can see Dean giving pro-cybernetics like me a run for their money. :P I think we can boil the issue back to the utopian question of which would be better. If we let our imagination roam free, then I do accept that genetics can do awesome things. But "easier" and "more feasible" is still strictly in the realm of the cybernetics aspect, IMHO. :)
Prosthetics are not only clumsy, weak, and somewhat flimsy, they are fragile, just as much or more than a human being.
Truly the human body is a fantastic piece of work. But if you compare that to the level of prosthetics we have now and to the level of genetics we have now, I argue that artificial limbs are head and shoulders ahead of genetics in our day. I-limb seems like a huge step forward, although it probably is costly and fragile. But at least that option is here and we can build on it. That is not to say genetics don't have their bases, but for reasons I have quoted previously, the foundations for development are not as open. As such, I think crafting more durable prosthetics is going to happen in the foreseeable future and then we'll see where that leads to.
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Post by His Divine Shadow » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:20 am

Just to throw a breach into the "pure genetics" camp's razor-wire barricade:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/07/26/ge ... index.html

Perfection does require experimentation, though, so this may not have any far-reaching consequences for the whole treatment.
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Post by Dean_the_Young » Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:42 pm

Antares wrote:This is an interesting discussion because I can see Dean giving pro-cybernetics like me a run for their money. :P


Thanks. Someone has to keep you tech-wankers tied to reality. :P

I think we can boil the issue back to the utopian question of which would be better. If we let our imagination roam free, then I do accept that genetics can do awesome things. But "easier" and "more feasible" is still strictly in the realm of the cybernetics aspect, IMHO. :)
Utopian and dystopian? Mighty fine line to walk there. Brave New World is a geneticist dystopia, while the whole genre of cyberpunk can arguably be about the problems of a world with cybernetics and prosthetics. And then there are all sorts of stories where either genetics or cybernetics solves so many of the world's current problems (though admittedly they cause drastic new flaws).

But if you want easy, then prosthetics are the way to go. We already have basic fundamentals down, individually is cheap, and already available. But if you want potential...
Prosthetics are not only clumsy, weak, and somewhat flimsy, they are fragile, just as much or more than a human being.
Truly the human body is a fantastic piece of work. But if you compare that to the level of prosthetics we have now and to the level of genetics we have now, I argue that artificial limbs are head and shoulders ahead of genetics in our day. I-limb seems like a huge step forward, although it probably is costly and fragile. But at least that option is here and we can build on it. That is not to say genetics don't have their bases, but for reasons I have quoted previously, the foundations for development are not as open. As such, I think crafting more durable prosthetics is going to happen in the foreseeable future and then we'll see where that leads to.
This is true, but relies on one critical point: "level we have now". Currently, it would be a gross overstatement to say we've even begun serious genetic research/experimentation. We've cured only one disease with genetic therapy (bubble boy disease), and are still only beginning to be able to influence the basic genetic structure. However, we already have simple prosthetics that can allow people to walk, special ones that can allow people to run, that can allow people to bend lost arms or grasp simple objects (though it is important to note than none are good in multiple categories, and that all have serious limitations).

But those are what we have now, not what is possible or potential in the future. Have I perhaps been underestimating the degree to which future prosthetics may or may not supplement lost limbs? Perhaps. But I thought that the point of a "realistic" debate on this topic would be which would be better in the future, not now. Otherwise there wouldn't be a contest, as we already have simple prosthetics, but haven't even begun to tap the potentials of genetics.



If you have time to sink into a series that somewhat compares/contrasts futuristic cybernetics and genetics, I recommend S.M. Stirling's The Domination trilogy, which besides being a massive dystopian/utopian series that has had me wake up screaming more than once, also features a Cold War between one side that favors robotics/cybernetics and one that favors genetics.

Be prepared to suspend belief on the fronts of plausibility and realism, though. That's not what the series is about.
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Post by Vyron » Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:47 pm

Dean_the_Young wrote:Having a mastery of genetics (in this case being able to isolate, trigger, replace, or manipulate a specific gene at will) would cancel out many of these potential problems. There will never be such a thing as cancer with genetic mastery, because you can simply turn off or limit the genetic malfunction that has triggered the uncontrolled growth. There won't be an incompatibility issue if the offered replacement is a genetic clone of the original, or if you go and turn off the piece that detects the incompatibility. Once you fix the degradation factor (and I'm pretty sure they already have leads on how to do that), you won't have to worry about an arm or leg withering on you.

As for errors and mistakes in the process, sure. There would be massive teething problems in getting it all worked out. But as long as you are willing to both take the time and have test subjects (either willing or not), you can work them out. In fact, correcting a specific mistake would be the best way to work out how to make a change in the first place. Something like "So I accidentally changed gene sequence A to B instead of sequence C to D? Let me change B back to A, and I'll have experience for sequence C...". But the overall question was "which would be better", not "which would be easier".
If we are going to use the "if we have enough time tow work out the kinks" argument, then why not do it for cybernetics? One of the big points you have been making is that genetics will give a more familiar product than cybernetics, but if I use your argument then I can say at some time we will have a robotic arm that feels like an organic arm, with improved neural connections that a person's mind will never know the difference and it can withstand a much larger stress than an organic arm can.
This is a gross understatement. Take the article another person posted below; the new cutting edge being the ability to "turn a doorknob". Undoubtedly the technology will get smoother in the future. But my trusty arm could pick up balls and cubes in a matter of months, can feel texture and direct pressure, and even pain (which is a good thing in the evolutionary sense). This man will likely never be able to type well on a computer again; his arm won't be strong enough to lift simple boxes; at any sudden jolt that would just jostle a normal person, the electric motors in his arm can be misaligned and made useless. And this artificial limb sounds like it is a direct bone attachment prosthetic, arguably the most promising of all prosthetics for restoring utility of a hand. If it is, this man will likely never be allowed to as much as jog again, because the impact of even jogging has the potential to break his bone and render the entire arm useless. He can forget about pulling a trigger.

Prosthetics are not only clumsy, weak, and somewhat flimsy, they are fragile, just as much or more than a human being.
Once again, I point you to your own argument. We may not have anything that can do that now, but it can be done. We can rework all the mechanical problems, in areas such as flexiablity, strength, and cohesiveness. Even in the present we have ideas of how to achieve, and in flims like Terminator we have designs that we can actually use. While some of those may not be realistic by some standards, they are at least ideas we can think of. Nobody even knows how to make a gene to provide some of the things you suggest, let alone grow an organ that provides that function in the macro scale. So why are you will to accpet things that may be achieveable using genetics, but not things that may be achieveable by cybernetics?
Horrible, horrible, horrible example. FMA is steam punk, which isn't exactly strongly connected to physics. In all honesty, half of what Ed does should rip his arm out of its connection, or at least see it shattered. Ed should be walking at something like a 20 degree tilt to compensate for the extra weight. The number of times he alchemizes or whatever his arm should ruin it for good. But that arm is far too heavy, far to dexterous, and far too underpowered (and doesn't even have a real basis for obeying his brain signals) too be brought up in an argument about plausibility.
That may be what you think, but I think it does a rather good job at providing its function. Sure it looks inorganic, and does not provide all the details, but I have no doubt that if it was not used for combat it should be a reliable piece of machinery. At no time did it breaks on its own for no reason at all, and it did not have all those "problems" that you describe above. If you want a better version, use the GITS cybernetics; it never had those probelms, it looks organic, and it seems to be superior to organic components. I've only watched SAC, but in that show an organic component never out performed a cybernetic part. In the show, a cybernetic arm can easily break an organic arm, but an organic arm can't break a cybernetic arm. I am not saying it is realistic, and neither are the genetics you are talking about, but this is a form that real cybernetics can turn out to be.
Would you mind defining "foreign" in this case? Are you talking about putting a gun onto ones arm (a stupid idea for biological or prosthetics), or more like growing a blade at one's elbow (which could be done as a bone extension, but would also be a bad idea)?
Neither, I'm just talking about cells that are grown elsewhere, any lace that is not part of the recipient's body. Even if the cells are harvested from the same body, as long as they are taken out and then modified (speed gowth or other imporvements), it will be "changed". Even nowadays, if something is taken out of a person's body in surgery, have something done to it and then put back in, then will still be complications.
The complexity of the task is only really a problem in the run up to mastering the process. Sure it would take time, but this isn't like the scientists are practicing on themselves. You make the experiment on a test subject, and only make small changes until you understand what each one does. Once you have the small changes done, then you go progressively up. People will die from the screwups (and even the fatal non-screwups). But people will die from cybernetics experiments, so I don't see the problem.
But the point is less people will die, since cybernetics is not invasive at the genetic level. Like I said, if an attachment doesn't work, the base body won't be harmed beyond help. But if a genetic change is done and it is harmful, there are many ways a body can die. And who will you sacrifices in order for us to get to the level of genetics we need to achieve the skills necessary to implement your ideas? Even if both genetics and cybernetics are far fetched, at least cybernetics will be better since less people will die from it and thus have a better/faster/easier chance of completing through the develpoment process.
Harder to master? Of course. More time-consuming? Count on it. But I honestly believe that realistic cybernetics are inferior to the natural body, and genetics gives us not only a chance to replace lost parts (they've already regrown a lost paw on one furry creature or another), but you can also make adjustments* and tweaks to improve the human body and life while you're at it.

*Such tweaks that I can believe as plausible include such things as expanding the human vision to more parts of the color spectrum, eradicating diseases, keeping neural pathways healthier and stronger (fighting Alzheimers), producing an ideal hormonal balance/production to promote a healthier and stronger body, slightly (minutely) altering bond density/mass for stronger(heavier) or nimbler (lighter) skeletal system, reinforcing joints to make them more flexible and able to hold more weight, boosting ATP production for more energy potential, stronger lungs, faster/smoother brain synapses (boost thought speed marginally), and so on. None of these would make anyone a perfect soldier by any stretch of the imagination, but they could all be an edge.
If you are willing to imagine all these organic parts, why not imgaine some mechanic parts? None of the things you suggested are any easier to create, if not harder since they may interfere with other organic process. We already have machanical sensors that can see the full spectrum, we already have machinery that are much more energy efficient than the human body, and we already have electrical signal systems that are much more stable than neural pathways, so once we figured out how to miniaturize them and connect them to the human body than cybernetics will have already completed the goals that some of the objects in you list are to provided. I would also like to mention that nobody have a clue about how to start on doing some of the things you are suggest, and even if my own ideas are also hard to conceptualize, at least there are already mechanical system that uses the same ideas so cybernetics is already partway done, where as in genetics no one has yet to use it to engineer anything in the marco level.

Your arguments are centered on things that could be done, not things that are already done. I present a probelm for you to consider; if it is possible to have both mechanical and organic starships, which one do you think will be completed first?

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Post by Vyron » Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:51 pm

Dean_the_Young wrote:If you have time to sink into a series that somewhat compares/contrasts futuristic cybernetics and genetics, I recommend S.M. Stirling's The Domination trilogy, which besides being a massive dystopian/utopian series that has had me wake up screaming more than once, also features a Cold War between one side that favors robotics/cybernetics and one that favors genetics.

Be prepared to suspend belief on the fronts of plausibility and realism, though. That's not what the series is about.
To be honest, I have no problems suspending believes for something but I feel you are too unfair towards cybernetics and too favarable towards genetics.

And who wins that Cold War in the book?

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Post by Dean_the_Young » Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:58 pm

His Divine Shadow wrote:Just to throw a breach into the "pure genetics" camp's razor-wire barricade:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/07/26/ge ... index.html

Perfection does require experimentation, though, so this may not have any far-reaching consequences for the whole treatment.
I hardly see how this counts as a "breach" in my "razor-wire barricade". (What does that mean, anyway?)

Someone (who was already terminally ill, it sounds like) died. To be callous, so what? Genetics is a new an unexplored science. Sacrifices on the part of the explorers is to be expected; can you imagine if the science of flight had been stopped after the first hundred/thousand men who had tried to fly had died? It was a volunteer study, and the study was suspended, not actually shut down by the FDA. Most likely*, unless serious criminal neglect is found the study will eventually continue after the FDA determines that the study isn't sinisterly murdering its participants.

*Unless certain anti-gentic research elements (certain religious groups) are effecting the ruling.

Besides, at most this effects genetic research in the US for a time. Which, considering how nations like South Korea are also leaders in the field, is more of an annoyance than the catastrophe like if the USSR had abandoned space research.

Another besides, this only effects the contemporary R&D of a certain area of genetic research. As this debate is more about the comparative merits/utility of genetics and cybernetics (prosthetics) and not about the actual research and development of those processes, I'm not even sure how this factors into a debate about hypotheticals.
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Post by Dean_the_Young » Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:19 pm

Vyron wrote:
Dean_the_Young wrote:Having a mastery of genetics (in this case being able to isolate, trigger, replace, or manipulate a specific gene at will) would cancel out many of these potential problems. There will never be such a thing as cancer with genetic mastery, because you can simply turn off or limit the genetic malfunction that has triggered the uncontrolled growth. There won't be an incompatibility issue if the offered replacement is a genetic clone of the original, or if you go and turn off the piece that detects the incompatibility. Once you fix the degradation factor (and I'm pretty sure they already have leads on how to do that), you won't have to worry about an arm or leg withering on you.

As for errors and mistakes in the process, sure. There would be massive teething problems in getting it all worked out. But as long as you are willing to both take the time and have test subjects (either willing or not), you can work them out. In fact, correcting a specific mistake would be the best way to work out how to make a change in the first place. Something like "So I accidentally changed gene sequence A to B instead of sequence C to D? Let me change B back to A, and I'll have experience for sequence C...". But the overall question was "which would be better", not "which would be easier".
If we are going to use the "if we have enough time tow work out the kinks" argument, then why not do it for cybernetics? One of the big points you have been making is that genetics will give a more familiar product than cybernetics, but if I use your argument then I can say at some time we will have a robotic arm that feels like an organic arm, with improved neural connections that a person's mind will never know the difference and it can withstand a much larger stress than an organic arm can.
Yes and no. My point wasn't about "let's work out the kinks, it'll all be good then". I gave a point to go to consider accomplished, ie being able to manipulate any genetic sequence more or less at will. Which, considering the level of future technologies we're talking about, seems rather modest as we have already proven we can change certain genetic sequences such as the Bubble Boy disease. Having this level of ability (mastering probably wasn't the best word, as mastering applies knowing any and all genetic combinations) seems relatively modest, and covered the simple problems you brought up with a genetics path such as cancer growths or undesirable mutations. Once you can turn on or off a gene, you can turn on or off such problems at will. We know this because genetics is a "hard" science; we know the idea of how it works already, even if the complexity and details are far beyond us. We have the "tools", so to speak.

My problem with uber-prosthetics/cybernetics is more of "how far is possible". I do not believe in the possibility of a true AI/cyberbrain in the same way I do not believe reaching the absolute speed of light is possible. I do not believe in two-way neural connections between organic and non-organic (or at least not on any relevant technological comparison in this debate; by the time such could be theoretically possible, limb cloning/regeneration would already be accomplished and then what would be the point of packing so much technology that demands outside mantainence when simple organic is there? These could be considered "soft" sciences, things we have ideas for but have no real leads on. They could be possible in the future, in which case I may proudly join the ranks of disbelievers, but then again they could be smoke dreams. I lean towards smoke dreams.

But most of all, I believe in the absolute limits any prosthetic would have to obey; strength, mobility, durability, weight, and appearance. Choose two; that's all I can reasonably expect. I am, surprisingly enough, an athlete. For me, the ability to do push ups, climb over a six-foot wall, go through an obstacle course, and then run several miles without a problem in any is a major issue. But any prosthetic, now or in the foreseeable future, would greatly hinder me. I can't afford to lug around a super-strong but heavy arm when I run, I can't afford a strong arm that can't go from push ups to pull ups to knot tying, and I can't afford an arm that will break if I land on it from a five foot fall. Compared to any current or foreseeable future prosthetic, my current arm is going to serve me much, much, much better than any substitute.

These are the kind of limitations in all mechanics, not just prosthetics. You make a crane stronger, and you limit its dexterity. You make a machine more durable, and the weight changes. And considering how the human body is nice and evolved into just a perfect mix of all of these, saying that a single change is enough to make up for it isn't enough. Not to mention that the size limitation is serious for the concept of everything else. Not only do you have to fit the mechanics inside something that won't loom out of proportion to the body, but any mechanical device on the scale of a human limb is likely to be totaled by anything that would total a human body. A "more durable" leg isn't going to survive a car accident (or won't save you), a mechanical arm will still get mangled from a tall fall, and bullets will still go through a prosthetic arm that isn't four/five inches of solid metal.
Prosthetics are not only clumsy, weak, and somewhat flimsy, they are fragile, just as much or more than a human being.
Once again, I point you to your own argument. We may not have anything that can do that now, but it can be done. We can rework all the mechanical problems, in areas such as flexiablity, strength, and cohesiveness. Even in the present we have ideas of how to achieve, and in flims like Terminator we have designs that we can actually use. While some of those may not be realistic by some standards, they are at least ideas we can think of. Nobody even knows how to make a gene to provide some of the things you suggest, let alone grow an organ that provides that function in the macro scale. So why are you will to accpet things that may be achieveable using genetics, but not things that may be achieveable by cybernetics?
Not really; as I mentioned above, certain mechanical limitations are inherent in being, well, mechanical. Especially mechanical that is limited in size and weight like a prosthetic. And considering that the "designs" in so much sci-fi aren't worth the paper they're written on, they hardly should be counted. We are trying to stay in the realm of realism, after all. There are absolute limitations(strength, mobility, weight), and there are concepts we have no idea if they are even theoretically possible despite the fiction (neural connections, cyberbrains).

But with genetics, we know what can be accomplished because of the world around us. We know that genetics are what determine and direct growth. We know that a few changes are all that are separate the growth of a tentacle from a claw or an arm. A few changes and we can replace toes with hooves, naked skin for monkey pelts. We know this; it isn't a mystery. We also know that the genetic code changes (evolution, radiation damage), we know that we can purposefully effect it (the intentional changes mentioned in the article). We know that it is theoretically possible, even if we don't have the current means to exercise them. As long as the theory is not disproven, we can develop means to refine and accomplish.

That's the main difference in my mind. One field has the theory laid out (genetics) and needs the practice. The other has the basic theory and practice laid out, but the possibility for the ultimate potential doesn't even rest on solid theory.

That may be what you think, but I think it does a rather good job at providing its function. Sure it looks inorganic, and does not provide all the details, but I have no doubt that if it was not used for combat it should be a reliable piece of machinery. At no time did it breaks on its own for no reason at all, and it did not have all those "problems" that you describe above. If you want a better version, use the GITS cybernetics; it never had those probelms, it looks organic, and it seems to be superior to organic components. I've only watched SAC, but in that show an organic component never out performed a cybernetic part. In the show, a cybernetic arm can easily break an organic arm, but an organic arm can't break a cybernetic arm. I am not saying it is realistic, and neither are the genetics you are talking about, but this is a form that real cybernetics can turn out to be.
Of course it does a good job; it's a steam punk character tool. It's meant to make him look cool and strong, and only has a passing acquaintance with reality. It doesn't matter that it's inorganic, or that it never breaks down aside from rough use in combat. The problem is that it is impossible by any standard of engineering of any time period. It doesn't have electric, hydrolic, or any other kind of real motor to as much as open and close the hand. It has no inner-workings to explain how it even functions. It doesn't even have a power source. Even the idea that it can be directly linked to the nervous system is pure BS; how is metal going to receive and transmit neural stimuli? In a society that doesn't even have the medical base to realistically understand how the human body functions? What the anime shows is one hundred percent irrelevant, as this isn't a debate about steam punk fantasy anime, but about science and physics and technology. If we were going to go by what the anime shows, shouldn't the genetic freaks that are the undying homunculi be the ultimate verification of genetics?

And as I've already mentioned, GitS also has its own flaws. Starting with AIs and cyberbrains and going down to building-jumping spider tanks and multi-ton cyborgs that can use civilian passenger cars, the series requires a lot of disbelief in areas that I'm not ready to concede. You'll also notice from GitS that the number of actual prosthetic users is small; most of whom who bear the title are in fact full cyborgs. I can't recall a single instance where someone who had lost just an arm gained a prosthetic that suddenly allowed them to pick up other people one handed, or allowed them superhuman ability. The closest I can think of is the sniper with the prosthetic eye, but that was also dependent on the idea of a cyberbrain, which as I've already mentioned I don't buy.

You will also notice that for all their advantages, the cyborgs and prosthetic users remain horribly vulnerable. Car crashes still kill, and guns go through them as easily as through flesh. Plus there were all the cyber threats.
Would you mind defining "foreign" in this case? Are you talking about putting a gun onto ones arm (a stupid idea for biological or prosthetics), or more like growing a blade at one's elbow (which could be done as a bone extension, but would also be a bad idea)?
Neither, I'm just talking about cells that are grown elsewhere, any lace that is not part of the recipient's body. Even if the cells are harvested from the same body, as long as they are taken out and then modified (speed gowth or other imporvements), it will be "changed". Even nowadays, if something is taken out of a person's body in surgery, have something done to it and then put back in, then will still be complications.
But now you're using the same argument you (rightly) accused me of making; of taking current trends and projecting them forward. I've already mentioned the case of the critter who had its paw regrown; that is proof that lost limbs can be replaced. With the ability to simplify complications by controlling and identifying changes, a large number of problems can be rectified. Who knows? Perhaps the limb reattachment of the future will include a specially cloned/grown limb, but work like a (much) better version of those surgeries where a man's second head is reattached after his lover chops it off.
But the point is less people will die, since cybernetics is not invasive at the genetic level. Like I said, if an attachment doesn't work, the base body won't be harmed beyond help. But if a genetic change is done and it is harmful, there are many ways a body can die. And who will you sacrifices in order for us to get to the level of genetics we need to achieve the skills necessary to implement your ideas? Even if both genetics and cybernetics are far fetched, at least cybernetics will be better since less people will die from it and thus have a better/faster/easier chance of completing through the develpoment process.
This gets into the field of morality plays, which isn't the best field to go into for a discussion of ultimate the potential (or about the ends rather than the means).

Who would I sacrifice to master genetics? The simple answer would be whoever and however I needed. The more complete answer would depend on who am "I"? Do "I" care about the subjects? I could be a inhumane or ruthless nation, and could experiment on either my own people or prisoners/captives. If "I" am the US, then I would probably only experiment on the willing, those who are already dying or will be soon. I may provide a little hope to them, and through them more hope for others later on. No one here is advocating a Draka-esque approach to genetic research (take random serfs/slaves/POWs/genetic desirables and practice on them), even if it would likely be faster. Current genetic research, quite frankly, largely is practiced on those who are dead but just don't know it yet. These are people who aren't going to be saved by any sort of prosthetic. And after a point, I would be at a level where I could fix my own mistakes, and thus would be in the clear.
Harder to master? Of course. More time-consuming? Count on it. But I honestly believe that realistic cybernetics are inferior to the natural body, and genetics gives us not only a chance to replace lost parts (they've already regrown a lost paw on one furry creature or another), but you can also make adjustments* and tweaks to improve the human body and life while you're at it.

*Such tweaks that I can believe as plausible include such things as expanding the human vision to more parts of the color spectrum, eradicating diseases, keeping neural pathways healthier and stronger (fighting Alzheimers), producing an ideal hormonal balance/production to promote a healthier and stronger body, slightly (minutely) altering bond density/mass for stronger(heavier) or nimbler (lighter) skeletal system, reinforcing joints to make them more flexible and able to hold more weight, boosting ATP production for more energy potential, stronger lungs, faster/smoother brain synapses (boost thought speed marginally), and so on. None of these would make anyone a perfect soldier by any stretch of the imagination, but they could all be an edge.
If you are willing to imagine all these organic parts, why not imgaine some mechanic parts? None of the things you suggested are any easier to create, if not harder since they may interfere with other organic process. We already have machanical sensors that can see the full spectrum, we already have machinery that are much more energy efficient than the human body, and we already have electrical signal systems that are much more stable than neural pathways, so once we figured out how to miniaturize them and connect them to the human body than cybernetics will have already completed the goals that some of the objects in you list are to provided. I would also like to mention that nobody have a clue about how to start on doing some of the things you are suggest, and even if my own ideas are also hard to conceptualize, at least there are already mechanical system that uses the same ideas so cybernetics is already partway done, where as in genetics no one has yet to use it to engineer anything in the marco level.
First of all, none of the tweaks I suggested are anything remotely new. Most of them, in fact, are things that are normally bred for in domestic animals. They are relatively simple things that could be tweaked first, not least because they are already there. It would be much easier, after all, to improved the eye's vision rather than grow a third one even though we know genetically we can do both. Interfering in organic processes isn't a problem, since that would be one of the things that would stop being an issue after the development and research were completed.

As for why I don't rely on a cybernetic equivalent when a machine can already do it, this is why. Cybernetic, to me, means something like "built in", a (un)natural extension of one's body. It would not be cybernetics to attack night-vision goggles to my eyes; my eyes would have to contain night vision from the start. But most cybernetics require a key component to be something other than clunky prosthetics; a two-way neural link to the brain. In sci-fi/cyberpunk, this is easy with things such as cyber-brains or brain sockets of some sort. But I have never seen proof that such a computer-grey matter link is even possible, and without such a link mechanical eyes and though-controlled robotics with textile sensation remain just another literary invention. The fact that various machines and gadgets can be minimized is not enough; if that were the case minimizing them onto a personal palm-computer would be enough. But without the theory to unify them with the human body (without the ability to even use them as cybernetics), they will always be just machines and not cybernetics. Up until some major advance is made, "cybernetics" will be limited to simple prosthetics.

Having no theory of cybernetics as opposed to the theory (but no practice) of genetics? We know the basic idea of genetics, and we know the ultimate moves of how to go about it. We even have the beginnings of application, with viruses that can effect genetic structure. In short we have the theory, but not the application. And in any contests between an idea with no theory and little practice and a theory and little practice, I'm one who would be on the concept with the theory behind it.

Your arguments are centered on things that could be done, not things that are already done.


And your arguments seem to be centered on what has already been done in separate fields (mechanics, different from cybernetics), and not on what can be done and the ultimate limits in which one can work.
:P
I present a probelm for you to consider; if it is possible to have both mechanical and organic starships, which one do you think will be completed first?
Whoa whoa whoa. This is apples and oranges; this is entirely different. Cybernetics versus genetics is about which is best in a specific area, ie the human body. You know, something that is usually under six odd feet tall, weighs under 300 pounds at the upper end, drives cars and is generally interested in a comfortable and healthy life. Space ships are an entirely different field; first being organic versus technology, not cybernetic versus genetic repair/improvement, and second for the fact that nothing organic known can even survive in space.

This is a strawman argument, so please go back and choose a better question.
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Post by Vyron » Sat Jul 28, 2007 7:05 am

Dean_the_Young wrote:Yes and no. My point wasn't about "let's work out the kinks, it'll all be good then". I gave a point to go to consider accomplished, ie being able to manipulate any genetic sequence more or less at will. Which, considering the level of future technologies we're talking about, seems rather modest as we have already proven we can change certain genetic sequences such as the Bubble Boy disease. Having this level of ability (mastering probably wasn't the best word, as mastering applies knowing any and all genetic combinations) seems relatively modest, and covered the simple problems you brought up with a genetics path such as cancer growths or undesirable mutations. Once you can turn on or off a gene, you can turn on or off such problems at will. We know this because genetics is a "hard" science; we know the idea of how it works already, even if the complexity and details are far beyond us. We have the "tools", so to speak.
Having the tools is not enough for some occasions. This is like having all the tools to built a funiture, but no instrustions for it. It can be done, but it is harder.
My problem with uber-prosthetics/cybernetics is more of "how far is possible". I do not believe in the possibility of a true AI/cyberbrain in the same way I do not believe reaching the absolute speed of light is possible. I do not believe in two-way neural connections between organic and non-organic (or at least not on any relevant technological comparison in this debate; by the time such could be theoretically possible, limb cloning/regeneration would already be accomplished and then what would be the point of packing so much technology that demands outside mantainence when simple organic is there? These could be considered "soft" sciences, things we have ideas for but have no real leads on. They could be possible in the future, in which case I may proudly join the ranks of disbelievers, but then again they could be smoke dreams. I lean towards smoke dreams.
You can have as much disbelief as you want, but that doesn't mean it is impossible. The advance manipulation of genetics may seem reasonable to you, but that doesn't mean it does to everyone. Is work of such complexity even being done right now? And why not believe in cybernetics that is maintainance free or requires very few maintainance as opposed to energy efficient organic systems?
But most of all, I believe in the absolute limits any prosthetic would have to obey; strength, mobility, durability, weight, and appearance. Choose two; that's all I can reasonably expect. I am, surprisingly enough, an athlete. For me, the ability to do push ups, climb over a six-foot wall, go through an obstacle course, and then run several miles without a problem in any is a major issue. But any prosthetic, now or in the foreseeable future, would greatly hinder me. I can't afford to lug around a super-strong but heavy arm when I run, I can't afford a strong arm that can't go from push ups to pull ups to knot tying, and I can't afford an arm that will break if I land on it from a five foot fall. Compared to any current or foreseeable future prosthetic, my current arm is going to serve me much, much, much better than any substitute.
You are only comparing things you can imagine of. In the furture there may be better materials to work with, ones that are possibly more durable and lighter as well. And a prostheitic system likely wouldn't "feel" fatigue like an organic system would; a robotic leg if built correctly should produce more running motion than an organic leg could before it wears out.
These are the kind of limitations in all mechanics, not just prosthetics. You make a crane stronger, and you limit its dexterity. You make a machine more durable, and the weight changes. And considering how the human body is nice and evolved into just a perfect mix of all of these, saying that a single change is enough to make up for it isn't enough. Not to mention that the size limitation is serious for the concept of everything else. Not only do you have to fit the mechanics inside something that won't loom out of proportion to the body, but any mechanical device on the scale of a human limb is likely to be totaled by anything that would total a human body. A "more durable" leg isn't going to survive a car accident (or won't save you), a mechanical arm will still get mangled from a tall fall, and bullets will still go through a prosthetic arm that isn't four/five inches of solid metal.
And organic systems don't have limitations? They have much higher energy waste, and there are aging issues that can not be prevented. And it is possible to minisize mechincal parts as well; it may be hard but I don't share your distrust on this issue. After all computer get smaller all the time, and people at first didn't think they'll go smaller. As for robotic systems not surviving car accidents/fall/bullets, do enhanced organics do that? Of course there will be some limits, but that doesn't mean it isn't better if it can't overcome all problems of the thing it is to replace. Even an improve organic system can't do that either. It is like saying if Runner A can hundle for a longer distance than Runner B without falling over, but still evetually falls over, then A jumps no better than B.
Not really; as I mentioned above, certain mechanical limitations are inherent in being, well, mechanical. Especially mechanical that is limited in size and weight like a prosthetic. And considering that the "designs" in so much sci-fi aren't worth the paper they're written on, they hardly should be counted. We are trying to stay in the realm of realism, after all. There are absolute limitations(strength, mobility, weight), and there are concepts we have no idea if they are even theoretically possible despite the fiction (neural connections, cyberbrains).

But with genetics, we know what can be accomplished because of the world around us. We know that genetics are what determine and direct growth. We know that a few changes are all that are separate the growth of a tentacle from a claw or an arm. A few changes and we can replace toes with hooves, naked skin for monkey pelts. We know this; it isn't a mystery. We also know that the genetic code changes (evolution, radiation damage), we know that we can purposefully effect it (the intentional changes mentioned in the article). We know that it is theoretically possible, even if we don't have the current means to exercise them. As long as the theory is not disproven, we can develop means to refine and accomplish.

That's the main difference in my mind. One field has the theory laid out (genetics) and needs the practice. The other has the basic theory and practice laid out, but the possibility for the ultimate potential doesn't even rest on solid theory.
There are many limiations in organic systems as well, such as durability and aging. A mechanical part can be at peak operation as long as it is maintain well; as for organic systems, even if one gets a perfect diet/exercise, eventually the organic parts will deteriorate. A 50 year old bike can probably run as good as it did in the past, at least more probable than a 50 year old man running as good as he did in his youth. And just because we know the genetic code, it doesn't mean we have full control over. If someone wants a sudden growth spurt, we can't just say activate the growth gene, then turn it off once the person reached a certain height. You can't customize genetics to work in such a manner. Find me a case that proves me wrong on this. And lastly, I doubt that genetics rest on solid theory, there are still many unknown factors like making sure all changes actually takes hold in the body.
Of course it does a good job; it's a steam punk character tool. It's meant to make him look cool and strong, and only has a passing acquaintance with reality. It doesn't matter that it's inorganic, or that it never breaks down aside from rough use in combat. The problem is that it is impossible by any standard of engineering of any time period. It doesn't have electric, hydrolic, or any other kind of real motor to as much as open and close the hand. It has no inner-workings to explain how it even functions. It doesn't even have a power source. Even the idea that it can be directly linked to the nervous system is pure BS; how is metal going to receive and transmit neural stimuli? In a society that doesn't even have the medical base to realistically understand how the human body functions? What the anime shows is one hundred percent irrelevant, as this isn't a debate about steam punk fantasy anime, but about science and physics and technology. If we were going to go by what the anime shows, shouldn't the genetic freaks that are the undying homunculi be the ultimate verification of genetics?

And as I've already mentioned, GitS also has its own flaws. Starting with AIs and cyberbrains and going down to building-jumping spider tanks and multi-ton cyborgs that can use civilian passenger cars, the series requires a lot of disbelief in areas that I'm not ready to concede. You'll also notice from GitS that the number of actual prosthetic users is small; most of whom who bear the title are in fact full cyborgs. I can't recall a single instance where someone who had lost just an arm gained a prosthetic that suddenly allowed them to pick up other people one handed, or allowed them superhuman ability. The closest I can think of is the sniper with the prosthetic eye, but that was also dependent on the idea of a cyberbrain, which as I've already mentioned I don't buy.

You will also notice that for all their advantages, the cyborgs and prosthetic users remain horribly vulnerable. Car crashes still kill, and guns go through them as easily as through flesh. Plus there were all the cyber threats.
Cyber threats are online connectivity issues, not in debate. As for FMA stuff, yes they aren't realistic, but I'm saying at least we have a somewhat base goal to work towards. We at least know what direction research should head towards. For your ideas, nothing in the world, real or fiction, actually demonstrate those traits. At least for mine they are conceptualized in fiction. You may think cyberbrain are unreal, but I don't think boosting ATP production for more energy potential is realistic either. The idea of an energy efficient organic production system is biased, there will always be organic limits where some energy will be wasted in things like internal heat. As for a stronger skeletal system or better joints, even organic systems follows the mass/strength ratio, so if that is possible it will not be the perfect version you describe; most likely they will have to grow to inhuman proportions to achieve that.
But now you're using the same argument you (rightly) accused me of making; of taking current trends and projecting them forward. I've already mentioned the case of the critter who had its paw regrown; that is proof that lost limbs can be replaced. With the ability to simplify complications by controlling and identifying changes, a large number of problems can be rectified. Who knows? Perhaps the limb reattachment of the future will include a specially cloned/grown limb, but work like a (much) better version of those surgeries where a man's second head is reattached after his lover chops it off.
Just because it is perhaps possible, doesn't mean it is for sure. I could also say perhaps cybernetics will be so good that there will never be any required maintainance work. Even so, if you are suggest a human to acquire such regenerating abilities, just how much of the body do we have to change? We may have to change both internal and external parts of the human body; I just don't believe that we can just selectively choose some genes for ablities from a species and disregrad all the connecting traits that those same genes create. If so, then your argument of genetics giving something more "familiar" to work with will be gone.
This gets into the field of morality plays, which isn't the best field to go into for a discussion of ultimate the potential (or about the ends rather than the means).

Who would I sacrifice to master genetics? The simple answer would be whoever and however I needed. The more complete answer would depend on who am "I"? Do "I" care about the subjects? I could be a inhumane or ruthless nation, and could experiment on either my own people or prisoners/captives. If "I" am the US, then I would probably only experiment on the willing, those who are already dying or will be soon. I may provide a little hope to them, and through them more hope for others later on. No one here is advocating a Draka-esque approach to genetic research (take random serfs/slaves/POWs/genetic desirables and practice on them), even if it would likely be faster. Current genetic research, quite frankly, largely is practiced on those who are dead but just don't know it yet. These are people who aren't going to be saved by any sort of prosthetic. And after a point, I would be at a level where I could fix my own mistakes, and thus would be in the clear.
However, in addition to that if your test subjects will be dead, then it will be harder to extract information from them. For cybernetics, the subjects will still be alive and thus be able to provide input for revisions. For your tests, the subjects will be dead and time will be spent on getting info back from the test, while cybernetics can quickly go to the next step.
First of all, none of the tweaks I suggested are anything remotely new. Most of them, in fact, are things that are normally bred for in domestic animals. They are relatively simple things that could be tweaked first, not least because they are already there. It would be much easier, after all, to improved the eye's vision rather than grow a third one even though we know genetically we can do both. Interfering in organic processes isn't a problem, since that would be one of the things that would stop being an issue after the development and research were completed.

As for why I don't rely on a cybernetic equivalent when a machine can already do it, this is why. Cybernetic, to me, means something like "built in", a (un)natural extension of one's body. It would not be cybernetics to attack night-vision goggles to my eyes; my eyes would have to contain night vision from the start. But most cybernetics require a key component to be something other than clunky prosthetics; a two-way neural link to the brain. In sci-fi/cyberpunk, this is easy with things such as cyber-brains or brain sockets of some sort. But I have never seen proof that such a computer-grey matter link is even possible, and without such a link mechanical eyes and though-controlled robotics with textile sensation remain just another literary invention. The fact that various machines and gadgets can be minimized is not enough; if that were the case minimizing them onto a personal palm-computer would be enough. But without the theory to unify them with the human body (without the ability to even use them as cybernetics), they will always be just machines and not cybernetics. Up until some major advance is made, "cybernetics" will be limited to simple prosthetics.

Having no theory of cybernetics as opposed to the theory (but no practice) of genetics? We know the basic idea of genetics, and we know the ultimate moves of how to go about it. We even have the beginnings of application, with viruses that can effect genetic structure. In short we have the theory, but not the application. And in any contests between an idea with no theory and little practice and a theory and little practice, I'm one who would be on the concept with the theory behind it.
We already have one way neural connections, it should be no more harder to figure out the other way then it is to figure out how to activate only one gene in the genome at will. It should be easier to reverse the ideas of some application, than it is to think of a new way of making some changes to something. We have more experience working with mechanics large and small, more than we have on splicing DNA together, or even using a retrovirus to deliever specific changes. Cybernetics may seem to be unnatural, but that can be a good point since sometimes having inorganic materials is better. As for achieving the abilities you posted above, you may only be able to do the by changing the body into something not human. Like night vision, if you can give yourself owl's eyes then it is possible, but then your eyes wouldn't be human eyes and genetics would've have given you something unnatural. If they were cybernetics, we could make optical sensors that will at least look human externally, and maybe even give a normal human feel when it is being used.
And your arguments seem to be centered on what has already been done in separate fields (mechanics, different from cybernetics), and not on what can be done and the ultimate limits in which one can work.
:P
At least mechanics is similar to cybernetics, so having an other similar field achieve the same thing is not a far stretch. As for your ideas, even microbiology can't now do some of the things you are proposing, so which ideas are more likely to be possible? As for the limits of genetic, I doubt it is as grand as you suggest, atleast not without any drawbacks. Do you have any papers the proves your ideas or are at least researching the ideas you stated? If not then you are just speculating as well.
This is a strawman argument, so please go back and choose a better question.
I'm just saying that you are expecting people to take positions based on nothing but your words, which are a little bit too wishful. Since you are arguing that genetics can do everything cybernetics does and do it better, I wanted to see if you'll go further. In the end I just don't think that is true; sure both field have overlaps but each field have their pros and cons. I would use genetics for curing disease and other micro biological problems, but I would use cybernetics to a marco object like replacing limbs and organs. If one wanted a stronger arm, it will be hard to create tendons that pulls a lot more weight without enlarging shape and mass of the tendons, while it will be easier to create a similar size hydraulics system that performs to that parameter. If we could create any organic replacement either through cybernectics or genetics, I would think cybernetics will be stronger and tougher (but not meaning it is invincible).

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Post by mcred23 » Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:10 pm

This thread has been on shakey ground since it was started, as at it's core, it's very similar to (If not actually) a favorites thread (And you all know our stance on those). Now it's become a quote war, the two ridiculously long posts above mine being perfect examples of what we don't want to see.

And so, this is getting locked.
I must betray Stalindog!!!

RPG TRINARY: Mash
Die Anti-brutale Kraft: mcred23 (Call me 'red', not 'mcred')

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