This is the first of my vexing questions that the plot of Pheno War will be playing with. If you’re not familiar with the concept of the revolutionary phenotype, the argument goes something like this:

Life is primarily an information-replication process. Replication, because mere preservation is subject to decay and oblivion. The errors and variances that are introduced in the act of replication give us the process of evolution. The foundational tool of this replication process in life as we know it is DNA. But it had a predecessor: RNA. When DNA came along, it was so far and away superior at the job that exclusively RNA forms of life were relegated to microscopic niches, or drafted into supporting roles for DNA-based organisms. But now, with the advent of technological data storage, and artificial intelligence capable of directed and knowledgeable adaptation, DNA finally has a superior competitor. Life as we know it may be destined for the same “dustbin of history” that turned RNA-based life into what we see today. DNA’s new competitor takes the form of AI-driven genetic engineering. When synthetic human reproduction starts out-competing natural reproduction, as it obviously will be able to, the focal point of our “information replication” as creatures ceases to be our own biology and becomes the machine. Natural selection begins to make a first class citizen of the machine, at our expense. Eventually natural human reproduction is selected out, as it is irrelevant. Step by step, in our efforts to have beautiful and intelligent children, humanity becomes a race of “seedless” domesticated creatures. No longer independent agents, but slaves to the machine.

Assuming the technological transformation cannot be stopped for long, is this grim future avoidable? How? Is DNA on the way out? Does that mean we are too? I look forward to your comments.


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