[LMB] SF for various generations

Paula Lieberman paal at filker.org
Wed Dec 30 15:54:40 GMT 2015

Before there were the quaddies in publication, there were I think the azi in 
C. J. Cherryh's books, there was a Zelazny story with a genengineered bunch 
of humans for a particular environment, why there was even Day Million by 
Fred Pohl with what today would be called cybersex--the differentially 
genetically modified people involved, could never physically even survive in 
the same physical environment, much less physically be sexually intimate.

In was it Cyteen, Ari Emory I or II, or may both of them, mused about a 
clone of Estelle Bok.  Bok in the series was the person who made the 
breakthrough which enable hyperspace Jump.  The clone, however, wanted to do 
music, not math, and lived an unhappy life, with the society which gestated 
and raised her, demanding she do math and improve on Estelle Bok I's work, 
while she the clone did not.

There's a Tufts Univesity professor who grows reptiles which are eyeless, or 
which have eyes in strange places, by bio/electric/chemical signalling 
during embryonic development--the reptiles are not GMO'ed.

Temperature of the sand reptile eggs develop in, determine the sex of the 
hatchlings reptiles.  One theory of exinctions is that the temperates caused 
the eggs to be all of one sex, and without both males and females of 
species, there could be no next generation.  Temperature may also play a 
role in color and color pattern of e.g. housecats, that the same genetics do 
not necessarily result in visually identical cats!

Not all identical twins go into the same careers--I had a pair of identical 
twins as college classmates,  One became a software engineering, the other 
is a high-priced surgeon whose specialiaty is substitituing for high-priced 
surgeons who are on extended vacations or out sick for extended periods.

Meanwhile, historically there have been families such at the Bachs, who 
gravitated to music, even when Bach parents tried to prevent offspring from 
it!  Three or more generations of Barrymores have been acting talent. 
Brother Guy Consulmagno, SJ, Ph.D, and head of the Vatican Astronomical 
Observatory, has a surname meaning "Good counsel"--and his family lineage is 
all people who were academics and counselors, and all gravitated of their 
own volition to those areas.

Different fields often have commonalities--the same equations pertain to 
heat flow, traffic flow, electromagnetism, etc.,  The boudary conditions are 
different, the constants are different, the 
can'tthink-of-the-multiplier-designation-term are differnt, but the 
equations and the ways to manipulate them and apply them, use the same 
methodologies and techniques for application etc.  For that matter, 
"marketing" people use the same approaches whether they're working for a 
computer company or a toy company.  Reporters doing interviews, use the same 
techniques for getting information be they doing live interviews on TV, or 
on stage, or for using as records clips, or for writing articles...

--Paula Lieberman
-----Original Message----- 
From: Gwynne Powell
Sent: Monday, December 28, 2015 02:49 AM
To: Lois Bujold List
Subject: [LMB] SF for various generations

> From: Tony Zbaraschuk <tonyz at eskimo.com>

Snippage, mostly of me, for brevity....
> On Fri, Dec 25, 2015 at 02:04:50AM +1100, Gwynne Powell wrote:
> > Which leads back to something I'm trying to come to terms with, in the
> > Vorkosiverse and beyond: the ethics of Jeevesing, and creating
> > pre-programmed people.

> In a sense, _none_ of us have a choice about our genes or (early on)
> our environment; that's no different.  Now, there is a difference
> between "my genes were someone's choice" and "my genes were a random
> combination of my progenitors'" but nobody has a choice about their
> _own_ genes.

Very true. So that leads to... if UR tech allows people to really
play with genes, who should be allowed to decide? Should parents
be allowed to have their child made totally to order, or should some
random elements be included to give society some flexibility, or
should governments set limits (children can't be more than X number
of points beyond their parents on scales of intelligence, various
abilities, etc.)

> > So I struggle with the whole thing - is it ok to Jeeves people if it 
> > means
> > they'll have very happy and fulfilled lives? ....

> I think one has to allow a certain amount of deference to attempts
> that are successful, and a certain amount of freedom of choice
> to parents (I don't think I like the alternatives, of saying "no,
> only random chance is acceptable", or "all changes must be approved
> by government/doctor/society decree").

What about the problems if everyone wants to program their
child to be the same thing? A generation of doctors, but no
electricians or plumbers or musicians? Governments might have
to regulate in some way just to keep a balance.

> > If someone paid a House on JW to create a squad of servants, who were
> > genetically programmed to be subservient, and to pass that on to their
> > children to create generations, a whole social class, of happy
> > hardworking obedient workers... is that ok? ....
> > How important is free choice? Because no matter how happy and
> > fulfilled Rish and the other Jewels are, I still feel a bit iffy
> > about it all.

> You are not the only one.  (And consider the Cetagandan experiment,
> on a vastly greater scale than Jackson's Whole -- though I think the
> Cetas have more restraint and more taste, is it not the same thing
> to design someone to be a leader/artist/scientist, as to design someone
> to be submersible stagehand?  Either way, are you not predefining their
> choices?  There's pa lot of room to discuss design ethiccs, but we
> should consider all the various options we have seen... and maybe
> some we haven't?  I expect that Athos probably included (at least
> at the beginning) designs to make all their sons happy with being
> homosexually oriented rather than heterosexually -- was _that_
> ethical?

Maybe it's the narrowness of choice that's disturbing. Perhaps if the
programming was more general, and the child had a range of choices
within that - eg creativity could go towards performing arts, arts or
crafts, scientific discovery, etc.   Precision and concentration could lead 
some kinds of engineering, medicine, some of the sciences, music, and
so on - the child is given general characteristics but chooses how to
apply them. I could be comfortable with that.

But that's not Jeevesing, of course.

And your mention of submersible people - like Guppy -  brings up
another point. If you do create your happy, subservient, obedient
worker class, or any beings who are made for a specific, limited
purpose or environment, then you are responsible to ensure good
conditions for them, and achievable rewards for their work. And if
you arrange for the traits to be hereditary, then your descendants
are will inherit the job of protecting their descendants. Reciprocity.

> > Where's the line?

> Do the kids _actually_ grow up healthy, happy, and with options?
> Do the societies composed of them have the ability to adapt to
> change, to grow and deal with new issues and not just old ones?
> (Genetic monocultures can be awfully vulnerable to various things --
> I'm sure the Nexus knows this, but do they always consider it?)

Maybe they figure they can cook up a new generation with whatever
special features they need. Of course, that's not a fast response.

The problem is that if parents are programming their kids, everyone
wants brighter, better, they want the best for their child. But
society needs a range of abilities. Someone has to do the menial
jobs - either you create your servant class for that, or everyone has
to do their time on the lower levels before they earn promotion, or
menial jobs are a punishment for people who mess up.

But of course in reality it'll be, at least at first, based on ability to
pay. So wealthy families get their made-to-order genius kids, and
everyone else has to DIY and take whatever they get.

As for the Jeeveses the only thing that gets me partway comfortable
with it is if there's responsibility and obligation from the Jeeveser. 

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