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Re: "Evolution" in sci-fi
Date: 5/31/13 7:57 pm
In Response To: "Evolution" in sci-fi (Dervish)

: There's a lovely article on i09 today about the nonsensical ways that
: "evolution" works in sci-fi. 343's Halo fiction has been
: particularly guilty of this as of late (certainly 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10 in
: that article), and it's been driving me up the wall.

: A few examples: -Librarian can apparently plan the course of evolution over
: many generations.

I know, yuk.

But... maybe her 'devolving' of humans was due to the addition of genetic sequences that suppressed the full development of intelligence. Genetic brakes. Maybe she used different intelligence suppressing mechanisms so that not everybody had every copy.

Maybe her intention was that in a short number of generations individuals would arise that would have fewer brakes and so would be significantly smarter than their peers and that, in time, the intelligence brakes would be selected out of the population.

If differential intelligence wasn't enough to do the job then maybe she linked her brakes to other bad effects to ensure that natural selection would remove them from the population.

: [snip] I certainly don't
: see how "guiding" evolution would let her plant the idea to
: invent Mjolnir and Cortana, which she implies in Halo 4.

Has Bear been reading too many comic books?

I think that he thinks that very specific behaviors and even individual personalities and memories can be encoded in genes.

Obviously there is some influence of genetics on behavior but I think that Bear goes too far.

Even if you could encode this stuff in the genes - how do you ensure that it stays encoded? How do you prevent it from becoming corrupted over the generations? You would need extra protection for the encoded data, something that we haven't found in the genome, something in addition to all the error correcting mechanisms that we know of. Something that still lets variation occur, the acquisition of new traits like lactose tolerance or hemoglobin changes to combat malaria - yet still preserves the stretches of DNA that contain secret personalities and secret compulsions.

It seems that our personalities are a reflection of the specific structure of each individual's brain. It doesn't look like our brains are 'Turing machines' - generic personality machines that can run any personality like a computer can run any program. <- Guys, please work with this analogy and don't waste time discussing its obvious weaknesses. I know that they are there. Just take the gist of the idea that computers can run 'any' program and, by analogy, any brain could run any personality (or even several at a time).

Although Bear is suggesting that there is a physical mechanism behind the geas(sp?) and the multiple personalities - it still smacks of mind body duality - that our minds or souls are separate from our bodies.

Librarian's genetic magic lets her infuse the souls of our ancestors into us. It's science as magic. Lipstick science.

: -Librarian can "accelerate" the Chief's evolutionary journey. I
: don't know what an evolutionary journey is, but evolutionary changes do
: not occur on the level of an individual within their
: lifetime...incremental changes that prove beneficial are passed on to
: offspring.

Maybe she had a plan and that plan was that the changes she wanted would happen via variation and natural selection. But she ran out of time, knew what she wanted, knew what the Chief had, and knew how to tweak him to arrive at the state that she had hoped would happen 'naturally'.

And, yes, I feel unclean even suggesting that she could be confident that she could achieve her goal by just letting random breeding take its course.

But maybe...

she implanted redundant copies of genes that would give her intended effects (whatever they are). She then added suppressors that were made susceptible to being knocked out by something that would happen at a predictable rate. For example maybe they were associated with insertion sites for transposons. If one inserts itself at such a site then maybe the suppressor is knocked out.

I'm waving my hands around here but can you see the gist of it? If enough suppressors are knocked out then the effects you want become active. You know roughly how active the transposons are - the frequency of knockouts - and so how long it would take until your super humans arrive.

But whatever mechanism you use... if the concept of molecular clocks (in the broadest sense) is true then you could plan ahead - insert stuff that will be activated later.

Even if you could do that you wouldn't call it evolution.

: Changing something in the Chief instantly to make him immune to
: the Composer isn't biology, it's magic.

Maybe... she know how the composer works and maybe it was given a set of criteria that identify the beings that it is meant to target so it knows not to try to compose cats or plants or bacteria.

Maybe there are certain genetic markers that the Composer was looking for. She knew which markers were used and she used some sort of vector to insert something that deleted or altered or replaced the gene sequences that the Composer was looking for.

If the Didact can work out what she did then he could reprogram... oh wait, it was blown up wasn't it?

: -All the ancestral humans are white dudes, both in Legends and the Halo 4
: terminals. The archaeological record clearly shows that humans originated
: in Africa, and that for most of the species' history, all humans would
: have looked like people of African origin. Lighter skin and fuzzy faces
: are relatively recent adaptations of populations that migrated to northern
: Europe. Portraying ancestral/original humans as white doesn't just raise
: all sorts of problematic social concerns, it's straight-up historically
: wrong.

To be fair, I don't think that Chackas(sp?) or (Riser?) were white.

: -Halsey calls spartans "humanity's next step, our destiny as a
: species." This nearly ruins the otherwise awesome opening scene to
: Halo 4 for me, because it means absolutely nothing and makes Halsey sound
: like a crazy Dr. Science. The spartans were augmented, but if Halsey is
: implying they could somehow pass that augmentation to offspring, she's
: fallen off the Lamarckian cliff. Or does she think that all humans in
: the future should be augmented? Her attitude toward the Spartan IVs later
: on would suggest otherwise. Basically, this line is dumb.

The SIIs were selected because of their genetics. She wasn't referring to their enhancements. But maybe she thought that wearing armor was the wave of the future. And, not being scientifically literate or well versed in biology herself, she...



: Evolution is a well-established fact of nature, but politicization and
: misrepresentation mean that less than half of Americans accept that it
: exists, and fewer understand how it works. And understanding evolution is
: important not only to understand ourselves and world around us, but to
: understand important issues like medicine, disease, genetically-modified
: food, etc. So when we have popular entertainment throwing around the term
: "evolution" in a wanton way that has no bearing on the real
: biological process, it only confounds the problem. *Full disclosure: I'm a
: science teacher, and it's important to me that people have some basic
: science literacy.*

: 343, I beg of you, if you want these plot contrivances to happen, please call
: them magic, not evolution. But I think you can do better, regardless.

Messages In This Thread

"Evolution" in sci-fiDervish5/31/13 3:29 pm
     Re: "Evolution" in sci-fipadraig085/31/13 4:49 pm
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiDervish5/31/13 6:05 pm
                 It's not sci-fi, it's the Victorians.Leviathan6/1/13 11:48 am
     Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiscarab5/31/13 7:57 pm
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiQuirel5/31/13 10:24 pm
                 Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiGeneral Vagueness6/1/13 2:20 am
                 Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiscarab6/1/13 4:17 am
                       Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiQuirel6/3/13 1:33 am
                             Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiCHa0s6/4/13 2:43 am
                                   Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiGeneral Vagueness6/6/13 12:15 am
                                         Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiGeneral Vagueness6/6/13 12:40 am
                       Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiGeneral Vagueness6/5/13 11:24 pm
     Agreed *NM*RC Master5/31/13 7:59 pm
     Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiscarab5/31/13 8:03 pm
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiSEspider5/31/13 8:41 pm
     Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiSEspider5/31/13 8:32 pm
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiStephen L. (SoundEffect)5/31/13 8:50 pm
                 This *NM*CHa0s6/1/13 11:32 am
                 Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiCody Miller6/2/13 4:24 pm
                       Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiStephen L. (SoundEffect)6/2/13 4:47 pm
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiDervish5/31/13 9:55 pm
           Wow...RC Master6/1/13 9:13 am
                 Re: Wow...scarab6/1/13 11:03 am
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fithebruce06/3/13 11:40 am
                 Smells like a logical fallacyscarab6/3/13 4:36 pm
                       Re: Smells like a logical fallacyscarab6/3/13 5:12 pm
                             Re: Smells like a logical fallacyMacGyver106/3/13 5:58 pm
                       Re: Smells like a logical fallacythebruce06/3/13 6:00 pm
                             Re: Smells like a logical fallacyuberfoop6/3/13 6:07 pm
                                   Re: Smells like a logical fallacythebruce06/3/13 8:08 pm
     Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiQuirel5/31/13 11:10 pm
     Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiAndrewSS026/1/13 4:43 am
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fi *NM*AndrewSS026/1/13 4:49 am
           Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiscarab6/1/13 5:52 am
     Re: "Evolution" in sci-fiCHa0s6/1/13 12:06 pm
     I would like to emphasize the "sci-fi"serpx6/1/13 12:44 pm
           This :) *NM*thebruce06/3/13 11:52 am
           Re: I would like to emphasize the "sci-fi"Quirel6/4/13 1:35 am
                 Re: I would like to emphasize the "sci-fi"scarab6/4/13 1:41 pm
     A couple of partial defensesArithmomaniac6/2/13 1:02 pm
           Re: A couple of partial defensesRC Master6/2/13 4:00 pm
                 Re: A couple of partial defensesCody Miller6/2/13 4:19 pm
                 Re: A couple of partial defensesArithmomaniac6/2/13 7:38 pm
           Re: A couple of partial defensesCody Miller6/2/13 4:17 pm
                 Re: A couple of partial defensesGrimmire6/4/13 6:22 am
                       Re: A couple of partial defensesthebruce06/4/13 9:44 am
                       Re: A couple of partial defensesGeneral Vagueness6/6/13 12:38 am
     He added his email in the genome?!?CHa0s6/5/13 11:50 am

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