An Artificial World

(From my comment over at DM’s blog, inspired by a conversation with Sean and a post by Shlok.)

The greatest change every to befall earth is not climate, or glaciation, or any of that: it is the rising-up of a artificial genome-plex — that giant interspecies culture that began with a few proto-chimpanzees kicked out of the forest and now stands at hundreds of species that that are “artificial” — man, dog, cat, cow, horse, and others. Of all large animals that existed before this new community, every one has since been domesticated (that is, breeding has led to the survival of docile offspring while the rest have been allowed to die off) or kept around for amusement (elephants, rhinos, and the rest)

This has never happened before.

10,000 years ago the artificial genome-plex radically expanded its scope, adding plants to its army. Corn, wheat, barley, potatoes — all manner of plant species that could not exist by themselves in the wild — were artificially created from free ancestors.

When Jurassic Park came out, the idea of bringing dinosaurs back to life seemed incredible. I think now it’s just as much a matter of time. Same thing for other extinct animals, and extinct plants.

The genome-plex is preparing to cross time.

What Jurassic fruits taste the sweetest? Which plants eaten by the triceratops would make good raw material for ethanol? I think we’ll live to have a good idea of the answer to these questions.

We live in a world, radically artificial twice over, and we haven’t begun to see what it will hold.