A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

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trooogdooor
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A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by trooogdooor » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:09 am

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trooogdooor wrote:How would you feel about:

a) Humans being somewhat genetically refined over the past 1000 years of genetic "repair", and keeping this (permanent... DNA-level) improvement into the post-apocalypse period? I feel that this would mesh nicely with the "untraditional", non-dystopian, sort of verdant and hopeful feel of the game, and the somewhat non-grimdark vibe of lush, overgrown cities etc...

Naturally healthy, beautiful, tall, powerful, intelligent, strong-boned, long-lived humans. But still more-or-less human, with a few oddities.

b) Humans using neuro-surgical implants, such as "Switch". That would be a technology which civilized factions would be able to maintain. Haussmans which assist with tasks, but are fused into the body.

(cyborg add-ons, in other words)
matthew wrote:That definitely has merit. The original intention with the virus was that the reason that some were resistant to it was because they had had so many genetic modifications that their DNA wasn't as affected.

So yes, it would make perfect sense to do that.



We should be keenly aware of what amazing, heroic, godlike beings we have lurking amongst us.... even now, today. They are rarities today. Lucky flukes. But after 1000 years of maximizing our own genetics, we would unlock the staggering potential of humanity.

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The human species regularly produces behemoths taller than 7 feet, more powerful than Arnold, capable of punching through walls. Today, it's rare. It raises eyebrows.

But imagine a world where this is normal. Healthy. Where people selfconsciously stride around like Thor or Hercules. Not even proud to look that way. Because that's just what people look like.

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A world where a hundred generations have selected to correct genetic misfortunes like a propensity for acne, or for messy teeth, to the point where these are simply uncommon. A world where people are born without knowing about Multiple Sclerosis or Alzheimers. Where cancer rarely happens. Where noone has to have astma. Where people just generally are healthy and beautiful.

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Mind you, still healthily terrified out of their minds of an environment filled with monsters, bandits and aliens. Still full of sorrow for their many lost dead, and for the peril to their entire species. But just not afraid of having deformed children, or of suddenly developing parkinsons. Where we can feel confident that while everything around us is treacherous, our bodies are truly on our side. Where we feel like heroes.

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Just a random example. Today, one of the most common surgeries is Appendectomy. But a few people today are born without an appendix, it serves no purpose anymore. It's a vestige from a bygone time in the past, when the organ served a purpose, but now it does nothing. That's an example of something that the humanity of DP would simply be born without.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by saltinerunner45 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:21 am

i love this concept; the near perfect human, the natural way.
the only problem i see, is that although humans are naturally getting taller, we arnt necessarily getting more muscle. im no physicist, but the reason behind this is that the bigger you get, the more energy it takes to move you. an ant can lift 10 times its body weight, but if it were blown up to our size, it would be incredibly weak. so instead of looking like andre the giant, most humans would look more like those aliens that make the clones in starwars
http://mintlime.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/pic0.jpg
that being said, this is sci-fi ;) im sure that we could overlook that fact, or simply assume that our anatomy (naturally or not) found a way to compensate for this.
saltine runner thanks you for reading this post, and is sorry for his ramblings.
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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by BigMekScraptech » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:43 pm

Maby more people could develop the use of there legs as weapons. Due to the fact that they support your whole body, the bigger you get, the stronger your legs are!
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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by Ygds » Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:57 pm

Awesome idea. The continued evolution of the human species is certainly an interesting avenue to investigate. Given the selection pressure of a post-apocalyptic environment, I could see many of the less genetically fortunate being weeded out. However form and function while related may not be related in the way we like. Selection pressure might actually encourage a humans to be much smaller, spindly and stealthy. However (as I think you suggested) it might happen if humanity were more active in their breeding management. While eugenics has a very bad wrap today, in a society that needs strong, healthy, intelligent individuals and nothing less, having a standardized breeding program might serve a very viable and necessary function. I for example had a blood disorder growing up (now in remission for one reason or another) called ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenia perpura....sp?) that is an autoimmune disorder where my body "attacks" my platelets (the cell fragments that assist in blood clotting). As a result a wound or bruise would not heal but continue to open and bleed (bruising was especially bad, sitting in steel chairs at church did a number on me at 8 years old). In a society under attack by myriad threats I would be a liability on so many levels. Minor injury could be fatal, and having an autoimmune disorder means I could transmit several autoimmune type disorders to offspring. In that situation my very chance of reproduction is a threat, not to be taken lightly. Sterilization, sacrifice or execution are the only options worth pursuing.

I don't think you were suggesting eugenics, but I think it is the only way humans will continue to develop qualities ubiquitously among them that fit the physical and functional ideal you mention. Now genetic engineering....that is another story altogether. Perhaps a healthy idealistic mix of the two?

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by Kris Knives » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:51 pm

Hey all, I really love where the conversation is going. Interesting ideas and good reasons for them. One thing I would like add is that perfect is highly relative and humans are in some ways a TERRIBLE design. Our legs for example are half way in-between a climbing limb and running limb which makes for all sort of problems for us. Would a more perfect, evolved human then be better at running or climbing? Our spines are designed to give us flexibility at the expensive of the fact they are basically designed to wear out. Would humans have more ridged backs making us better suited to long, useful lives instead of the short ones of our ancestors or would flexibility still be most important and our elderly would still suffer for as they got older?

The reason we don't really change and pick of these to excel at is mostly because we adapt and thus don't develop a nitch. IE: Humans don't run or climb as a primary form of transportation, we build things to transport us and this is what most people are comfortable with. People tend to have very odd and cosmopolitan ideas about what humans "should" look like and that rarely has anything to do with function and on top of that transhumanism is very taboo almost universally. Most human improvement have to slip into practice in such a way that makes them seem mundane. IE: Hip replacement seems okay because we don't go around calling people cyborgs with metal hips. In general it is okay to build a better machine to do thing for a pretty but ineffectual human but unacceptable to build a better than average human and one that looked weird would probably be right out. Yet if humanity is really at low population levels and have trouble breeding (which we’re told the virus does in survivors) then almost every human is likely to be treasured meaning any evolution in that time frame is more likely to be from human meddling rather than natural selection as people will be trying to keep as many people alive as resources allow even if they are less than ideal.

So while you could build a "better human" they're also pretty likely to avoid a lot of improvements in order to keep with whatever people 1,000 years from now find pleasing to look at/socially acceptable. For example in all that classical art they often shrug the genitals because large ones were considered vulgar at the time, now people thing bigger is better. So figuring out what is attractive in 1,000 years might be a good place to start in figuring out what a “better” human is like. Do people find say, cat eyes attractive or is that consider freakish? If so we might have eagle eyes sharp shooters who don’t need scopes. Is taller still more attractive or is that considered bruitish? Is a human who can work a computer better more valuable than one who can lift heavy objects? Things like that. The perfect human in the DP setting might be a little different from what 2012 would consider perfect. It could be a human might be short, hairless and have six extra dexterous fingers to help them operation machines better. Then again it might be tall hair, hulking Thor type with white hair and tough leathery skin that can lift a ton. Or then it might still be a guy that looks a lot like Brad Pitt. Just food for thought, I hope it added something.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by trooogdooor » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:39 pm

Two very interesting posts! Two thoughts:

1) All things being equal, Mike wants humans to be the good guys. And the basic rule is, good guys have to look human for people to think that they're good. They even made the Naavi in Avatar have boobs, 4 limbs in stead of 6, and lose the ventral ducts in their chests to make them look more like us - the only sacrifice of an otherwise biologically consistent mythology, all the rest of Pandoran biology made good scientific sense - purely to put "humanity" into the whole superhuman blue feline aboriginal alien.

Result: people empathized with the Naavi, bigtime. They look like beautiful humans.

One of the reasons why Space Marines are so popular is that they're US... just the BEST of us. Despite all the details about cyborgics and acid-spit, they're really just mega-heroic humans. And this is why we love them.

So at the end of the day, though I think transhumanism could go in a number of directions, I think the basic push should be towards the best we have: extremely beautiful, well-formed, intelligent, large, hyper-toned, hyper-healthy humans. With a few novel features here and there, like with Space Marines and Naavi.



2) The only way to really achieve this on the timescale of the game isn't really natural evolution or "negative" eugenics (kill anyone wearing glasses), but rather "positive" eugenics (choose each kid to be as great as possible, and improve genetics of each generation). What humans would select for would be stuff that made sense in the pre-war society; some of it very useful (perfect health, perfect bodies, increased brain size), but a lot of it might be fairly gratuitous (strange and beautiful eye colors simply for cosmetics, for example).

I know that dystopian nightmares with negative eugenics and Hitler and so on are very popular in wargaming, but I feel that this trope is a. very old hat, and b. stupid anyway, it's unrealistic. People won't put up with Hitlerian eugenics, any more than we'll put up with all religion being suppressed. It's just unlikely.

What's more important, though... I don't think it's every been done before, telling the story of improving human genetics as a POSITIVE story (the way it likely will unfold). It's a really interesting feel, and I think it will take a lot of people by surprise! Imagine that, a story where human bioscience isn't the badguy, but is clearly the good guy for once.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by Kris Knives » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:52 am

trooogdooor wrote:What's more important, though... I don't think it's every been done before, telling the story of improving human genetics as a POSITIVE story (the way it likely will unfold). It's a really interesting feel, and I think it will take a lot of people by surprise! Imagine that, a story where human bioscience isn't the badguy, but is clearly the good guy for once.
There are actually a lot of stories where genetics is a positive element of the story, particularly in the realm of super heroes, it is just when it works there isn't really lot to focus on and it end up just a background element of the story. Someone mentions how great it is to genetically perfect and free of diseases and that is usually it. Like most things in fiction genetics is generally only and interesting story point when it is it causing problems or conflict. It is generally narratively unsatisfying to have a problem and for the heroes to just breed a better person to take care of it so it rarely factors heavily into a plot unless as something negative.

Here is one example of the top of head. In Squadron Supream...........
(MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT)
the characters travel to the future to get their cure all elixer. When they get it thought it turns out to be basically some over the counter drug in a vitashake, it turns out in the future peopel are so genetically fit from gene therapy and eugenics that some they can basically take chicken soup and asperin for even things like cancer. No on in the the story consider this a bad thing and it generally is seen as a positive development in the future, but for the plot it is bad news since the characters from the present can't use the cures from the future.

In a lot of setting it is assumed people get more genetically fit through technology or breeding and that is a good thing, it just really doesn't factor in the plot much when it works well so we don't hear about it except in passing or as a little background flavor if at all.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by slaughtergames » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:26 pm

the thing is, if you change someone's DNA, you have to do so in EVERY cell of his/her body. otherwise it isn't going to have (much) effect. so i'm going to ruin your fun guys - if you want to genetically enhance someone, you have to do it almost IMMEDIATELY after conception. (when the pre-embryonic thing is only one cell big..)
I'm not trying to say though, that it would be impossible. but it's just something we haven't noticed until now.

on the other hand, i was quite liking the minor evolution idea... but you have to look at pros and cons: (from nature's point of view)

- getting bigger:
pro: obviously one is stronger and faster. it's easier to keep warm too.
cons: higher bloodpressure, cost more energy to do things, need more food(APOCALYPSE!) less stealth (hiding from animals?)

- bigger brains:
pro: obviously, you're smarter
cons: slower impulse processing, higher energy cost (is already 20% today), more easily head- and neck injuries (due to weight)

i can't find cons for a better immune system lol.... i love that idea..


controlled breeding: hmmm.. i'm floating between liking this and rejecting it; most people don't like this idea today; everybody should have the right to live, etc. and if there are VERY few people, they would want as many offspring as possible...
but on the other hand, if there is a healthy population, some might start to put up a breeding program... to not spread diseases and whatnot...

back to the genetics-manipulation though, here's an idea: if someone's born with a malformed arm, they could take some stem cells, and grow another one? then when it's fullgrown, they replace it through surgery... though, i don't know how good people would be at surgery in a post-apocalyptic world.... something to think about?
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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by Kris Knives » Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:38 pm

slaughtergames wrote:the thing is, if you change someone's DNA, you have to do so in EVERY cell of his/her body. otherwise it isn't going to have (much) effect. so i'm going to ruin your fun guys - if you want to genetically enhance someone, you have to do it almost IMMEDIATELY after conception. (when the pre-embryonic thing is only one cell big..)
I'm not trying to say though, that it would be impossible. but it's just something we haven't noticed until now.
What about fictional science ideas such as using an advanced retro-virus to rewrite someone's DNA or alternately simply tagging them with a metamorphosis gene at birth to give you a mechanism to effectively genemod someone later? I mean the main problem with altering someone now is they are designed to be closed system. If you mod someone at birth to be receptive to new genetic instruction so they grow with mechanism for it you wouldn’t have the rewrite problem.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by trooogdooor » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:38 am

Interesting points, slaugher. In short:

1) Genetic modification is generally either a) embryonic, or b) targeted (replace certain cell lines in an adult - similar to Kris Knives idea).

The "pre-embryo thing" you allude to is called a zygote. You're thinking of a).

I don't think there's been much scifi on this subject that wasn't a), since b) is generally much more difficult. To see a good example of how a) will start, watch a film called Gattaca.

a) is not only realistic, it's current technology - easily widespread amongst human babies in 30 years from now, to say nothing of several hundred years. 95%+ of humanity being genmodded 100 years from now is about as certain as a repeat of space flight to the moon (it's a sure thing), 200 years from now there won't be many old stock humans left. Wargaming is not known for being heavy on the science realism... (cough * W40K * cough) but I think there's a good reason to go the realism route this time: namely, that 100 years of genetic modification makes people EFFING AWESOME (!!). In whatever direction we wish.

2) We fortunately don't have to vaguely speculate about what we "think" the health effects of getting bigger will be. We can just use the examples we already have, RIGHT NOW. See my first post... behold the 6foot 12 behemoths who walk among us under pretense of being homo sapiens.

Some are unhealthy, but some are much healthier than average. The obvious solution is to copy genetics from only the healthy ones... tried and proven.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by saltinerunner45 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:43 am

one way potential way would for forced genetic mutation would be to alter a females ovaries or male spermatogonia to contain the desired traits. that way, when they produce sex cells, their kids will have a increased chance of displaying said gene (whatever it might be).
as for "paired breeding" i feel that it wont make it into the game. it has too much of a "grim dark gloomy future" feel to it, and matt wanted more of a hopeful renascence feel.

as for an evolutionary trait, perhaps our survivers are able to fight off the virus because of an over-active appendix, and this allows them to actually turn the harmful virus into an energy storage unit, where we can consume the remains of these cells for a quick burst of energy? idk, both a fluff point and a potential gameplay mechanic.
saltine runner thanks you for reading this post, and is sorry for his ramblings.
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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by slaughtergames » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:59 pm

note: sorry for idea-killing, but if we're going scientific, we have to do it right, right?

@Kris Knives: a virus changing your DNA... your thought is right; a virus changes a cell's DNA and get's it to make more viruses. so you could use a virus to change someone's DNA. now here's the problem: the way a cell spreads viruses, is by making so many the cell (literally) bursts! and the released viruses then infect the other cells they are flung at by that burst.

@trooogdooor: can you explain "targeted" genetic modification? even if you take a "small" part of an organ, that's still millions of cells.

@saltinerunner: the sex-cells thing is interesting. maybe put a filter with a nano-computer in a female's *hides word with cough!* and filter out bad spermcells, thus getting better offspring...
but then ofcourse, a filter wouldn't work with egg cells.. as only one passes through every month, a someone could be infertile for months on end. though you could modify the egg-cells, (ovaries?) as those are in place since birth. it's only at puberty that they start being released... but then again, how do you modify around 500 egg-cells? (sorry if egg-cells is wrong, but that's literally translated from dutch, my first language)

again sorry for idea-killing :)

and how do you guys think about cyborgs? replacing bad eyes and stuff? for bandits that would be pretty badass
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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by Kris Knives » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:20 pm

slaughtergames wrote:note: sorry for idea-killing, but if we're going scientific, we have to do it right, right?

@Kris Knives: a virus changing your DNA... your thought is right; a virus changes a cell's DNA and get's it to make more viruses. so you could use a virus to change someone's DNA. now here's the problem: the way a cell spreads viruses, is by making so many the cell (literally) bursts! and the released viruses then infect the other cells they are flung at by that burst.
That is a naturally occurring virus. We’re talking about an artificial virus designed for medical application, most likely a forum of bio-nano machine which need not follow the same narrow replicate, replicate, replicate pattern.

I'm going to massively water this down for purpose of conversation but it could work like so:

1. You infect a person with the carrier virus which you manufacture using nano-technology in a lab.
2. Carrier virus infects a cell programing it to make rather than a perfect copy of itself, a different virus, then self terminates.
3. Cell replicates the new "work horse" virus
4. The work horse viruses then infect surrounding cells with the new desired DNA rather than a replication order.

Now obviously this would be more complicated as you would need to carefully control the rate of infection and depending on how extreme the desired end state is you might need to do it in stages over time etc. etc. but for a society with the technology to build the needed carrier virus that shouldn't be very difficult.

And as stated before, at least in theory, there are other more exotic ways to go about it like simply moding people at conception with mechanism to aid you in doing this.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by trooogdooor » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:23 pm

@Slaughter: TagMO (Targeted modification is common enough in the lit. that it has an abbreviation) means, you send in a viral vector, and it messes with your transcription in some way, by inserting some DNA somewhere. In current tech, that usually means suppressing a "bad" gene, but adding a new gene is also done. MOST vira spread by bursting and killing the infected cell (apoptosis); not all, however, as Kris Knives mentions. Of course, one could design a retrovirus which spreads in a non-apoptotic way, or one could infect the host with one which does not reproduce in the host at all, in stead flooding his system with enough of it to infect every cell without in situ replication. This would also reduce the chance that your retrovirus does something unexpected, like stick around and keep modding the DNA, or jump from one host to the next...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_therapy

That said, I don't think that b) is the way to go! It usually won't make its way to the offspring to become part of the natural line. If the daddy genes are modded via b), his kids might not get any of that transmitted with the sperm. And we want DP to be a world where people are just BORN this way; not where every human being has to go to the gen-clinic all the time.

Much better is a): genemod the embryo. This means that humanity, post-collapse, without any technology, still is post-human naturally. It's just eternally, naturally a part of them.

Here's how a) works, in the pre-apocalypse society:

1) Couple A wants kids. They go to the GATTACA clinic.
2) Couple A donate thousands of eggs, and millions of sperm, to the GATTACA clinic.
3) GATTACA clinic creates thousands of fertilized eggs (zygotes), lets them divide 3 times (embryos).
4) GATTACA clinic grabs one cell from each, sequences all the DNA in each embryo.
5) GATTACA clinic chooses the child with the best DNA, maybe adds some more DNA, and puts this best-of-thousands egg back into the female.

Tada! No muss, no fuss, each generation gets (vastly...) better and better, lucky flukes like Einstein and Schwarzenegger become common, most diseases disappear. And post-apocalypse, even if all the tech goes away, the DNA stays.

It's called Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PIGS - yeah, funny). You choose your egg. This stuff is literally my job, I'm a bioinformaticist. Humans are already doing this experimentally... it will start to enter the market in ca. 5 years.

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Re: A Humanity with much Dark Potential: Beauty and Power

Post by slaughtergames » Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:31 pm

that souds good.. the thing-that the DNA stays really is what they would need..

but does it have to be called gattaca lol? - i'm sorry
"i buy me new deffkopta!!"
"waaaagh!"
"i did research, to find out how to minimize the randomness of the shock-attack gun."
"huh?"
"waaaagh!"
"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGH!!"

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