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Old 09-23-2005, 03:42 AM
Jedster Jedster is offline
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Default Re: The Sklansky Chimpanzee Question

Hasn't it already happened?

[/ QUOTE ]

More to the point, there are religious scientists who accept evolution. I know orthodox jewish neurobiologists.

People can rationalize anything.

I guess one question I have would be whether if the experiment worked, would you consider the resulting being to be any different than man?
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Old 09-23-2005, 05:56 PM
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Default Re: serious answer

Both mutatgenic and selection processes are essentially chancy, i.e. stochastic. Claims about the outcomes of future chancy trials have no truth value prior to the end of the trial. So there is at the moment no answer to your question: it is neither true nor false that the selection regime you envisage would produce a chimp as smart or smarter (by whatever measure you like) than the average human.

But it is POSSIBLE that that such should occur.

Chimp and human DNA differ both in number of chromosomes, the structure of those chromoses, and the particular neucleotide sequences occuring within structural bits. But by a sequence of changes, the chimp DNA can be converted into Human DNA.
Step 1: Chimps have 24 pairs, resulting (best guess) from a split in chromosome 2. By translocation the split chromosems can be rejoined.
Step 2: the remaining structural differences involve specific translocations (swapping bits of one chromosome into another)and transversions (flipping the sequence end for end within segment of a chromosome). Reverse translocations and transversions will rectify the structural differences.
Step 3: the remaining differences are single neuclotide substitutions and deletions. Point mutations at appropriate locations will rectify these.
Result: a chimp with human DNA and, presumably, human intellegence.
Provided two assumptions hold, there is a selection regime that favors each individual change in each step.
Assumption 1: No single change, in sequence, is lethal. Assumption 2: no single change, in sequence, destroys reproductive viability.
Given the assumptions, it is perfectly possible to devise a selection regime under which, if the requisite mutations happen, they will be favored at such a high probability that almost certainly the result will be a chimp as smart as a human (indeed, genetically indistinguishable from a human).
However, that selection regime is much more demanding than the general scheme you outline.

Whether a general selection regime favoring linguistic competence could or is likely to produce a human-smart chimp depends. First, on the range of mutations available for chimps that in fact increase both their fitness in context (i.e. expected reproductive success) and also their intellegence as measured. This is, to my knowledge, unknown (though some work on recent evolution in human brains has recently appeared in Science). Second, on the extent to which such mutations will break up currently co-adapted genetic complexes. Again, this is to my knowledge unknown. If such is likely, the chances for the evolution in question can be increased by inducing population structure within the subject chimps so that there is one large metapopulation composed of many small populations, each subject to drift and to slightly different selective regimes.

In short, producing an actual number for the probability is hocus pocus; one can say that under certain condtions (e.g. co-adapted complexes, lack of suitable genetic diversity) such evolution will not occur, while under others it is enormously likely, and the available evidence does not allow one to specify in any objective sense a probability distribution over the alternative sets of conditions.

Distributions for epistemic probabilities are of course possible. Given what I know about the history of breeding, and the fact that the total set changes amounts to a species change, I set the (subjective, epistemic) probability of success quite low ~.00001, given that the number of generations is < 10 K. But as with all epistemic probabilities, that is just a guess.

Regards, Bruce
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Old 09-26-2005, 03:18 AM
KidPokerX KidPokerX is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: San Luis Obispo, California
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Default Re: The Sklansky Chimpanzee Question

LOL, genious!
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