October 06, 2009

Man's meddling with nature is a dangerous game

Re: A Life Of Its Own: Where Will Synthetic Biology Lead Us? by Michael Specter (The New Yorker)
by rakesh on Sun 27 Sep 2009 08:54 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Complexity cannot be always understood by reduction to each cell functioning. We know that from the futility of reduction in complex systems. Yes, there are technologies to transplant organs and drugs to help avoid body rejection but its success is not high. Probably the future of technologies will help to transplant organs that are ill functioning like the liver,kidney, lungs but what about the brain? Our knowledge of the brain with all its complexity is bleak and what about mental diseases. Can technologies and synthetic cells help in this field are some questions that need to be pondered.
Definitely biotechnology helps but our understanding of the cell and complex body systems has been exaggerated in this article.
What does yoga of the cells mean? I am thinking it is the ability of the body to regenerate itself without dying forever. Can the body do it without the help of external technologies is the question. I am guessing that in the yoga of the cells the brain has an important part in controlling the body cell machinery. Even in normal yoga of the mind, you can experience the brain cell activation and clearing of the clogged passages in the lungs and other organs. Hence, the necessity of the future technologies to understand the brain which is a very complex organ without which the whole project of synthetic cells cannot be applied to the brain, probably organ transplant is the next viable thing to do but nothing more than that.
I think there is a long way to go to understand the brain. We are only scratching the surface.
Just like the reductionist understanding of the drugs on the body without taking the whole body into consideration the new technologies might make the same mistake in synthetic cell utilities. The body is the product of millions of years of evolution and man in his hubris wants to create organisms whose survival needs external nature which has been slowly exterminated by massive environmental pollution. In one hand, he wants to create new species and with the other he is killing the existing species on earth.
What about genetically engineered bland food we eat? No one knows its effects on the body on the long term. There are many many questions and man's meddling with nature is a dangerous game.

I hope we use the technologies to clean our earth and make it a happy place for the future generations. As of now man has failed in his utilizing technology project. I hope we learn our lesson and save mother earth of the impending peril.
Yes, I agree that in the vision of Sri Aurobindo and integral yoga, the use of external technology for the betterment of the body is not a problematic idea. In fact, technology is itself the exploration of laws of nature. There cannot be two natures. There is only one nature. If science can give us more siddhis to the body, why not use it in the development of future body? It all makes perfect sense and we are already using it and will use it in the future. At the same time our vision of nature which is predominantly reductionist should change or we fall into the danger of using new technologies in a limited way. No matter how much technology may change our body we will still need external nature to provide us with food, water and air.
If we do not preserve environment we are only fooling ourselves till the end and our accomplishments and nobel prizes will not help when external nature as been destroyed.
I would guess that Sri Aurobindo who as a mystic and would see only the one everywhere would not have a problem in using technology if it helps substituting the deficiencies of the body. But we need to critically analyze if technology is really helping and to what extent now.
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1 comment:

  1. Dear Rakesh-ji,
    Mother and sri Aurobindo have always remained very much open regarding technology.
    while one student was migrating to U.S. in '60, she said, 'yes learn about plastic technology, my food materials are smelling awfully.'
    At the same time Parichand-da - the Ashram gardener says She was very particular that the garden should be beautiful at the samed time natural as at the entrance !
    The whole problem is with man, - till he changes these aberrations will keep on cropping up.