There is a standard, generic incoming doom.

The general population is already roughly aware how nasty the situation is. (with both people overreacting and underestimating the problem)

There is an Organization that can save approximately 1 million people (with soft SF means, sorry about that ;) ). It is effectively flooded with prospective applicants who want to be taken.


  • A few people (like some politician kids) has to be taken just as a racket paid to politicians of great powers to make them cooperative, however their share in the gene pool is relatively minor (less than 1%);

  • There is clearly a need for experts necessary for survival, (round 10%) but even among them one can be a bit picky;

  • For the rest of people there are at least 50 candidates per place; (one don't ask for any special skills in particular, they would have to be flexible anyway)

  • The Organization don't want to choose the rest of lucky ones at random, but want to apply some rational mechanism of selection - they want people who are young, healthy, fit, hard working, able to populate new planet, intelligent, educated and not making troubles; (unofficially also: easy to govern)

  • The Organization, if given a chance, would like to weed out genetic problems or transmittable diseases; (nothing personal, but if they have two similar people, and have to chose one, the one with hereditary problems is left)

  • The Organization is neither politically correct, nor racist - it would not disqualify anyone merely for his race, nor would it care at all for keeping any ethnic quotas, nevertheless it would be interested in maintaining genetic diversity;

  • The test have to be done rather quickly (a month or two, tops) and can not be prohibitively expensive;

  • Asking for showing any medical history or medical history of relatives is possible, however, people would be desperate so if only asked would gladly admit being offspring of people living as long as Methuselah (not mentioning that a few might even try to forge documents confirming such claims);

  • There is no special preference for countries as such, but as you know when there are some life boats filled it's always: women, children… and first class passengers, so selection would be presumably somewhat biased in favour of more developed countries.

  • The Organization is aware that the starting condition would be harsh, that people would hard to coordinate or force to do something (there is megafauna, so people would really have to be armed) and would like to avoid any split/rebellion based on ethnicity, religion, political orientation, or general dissatisfaction. The Organization would like to maintain some kind of state of emergency for a decade and later build a semi-democratic system with serious technocratic bent.

OK, which reasonable selection criteria to apply:

  1. Which tests should be applied aimed at which genetic (or transmittable) diseases? Should genetic tests be run or maybe rather analysing phenotype would be easier?

  2. Any tricks during selection to process to boost loyalty and social peace?

  3. What should be long term outcome in next generations? (Which diseases would be eliminated / reduced? Would there be any side effects? Any social impact?)

So my types:

  1. Fitness

    1. Test for IQ or some more extended test, to get roughly fair comparison (instead of deciding what counts as good school)

    2. Age preference (for men around end of university, for women, because best biological time for pregnancy is around 20, then actually a bit younger)

    3. Screening for all serious disabilities mental disorders (like schizophrenia) or disability, any mild problems would be ignored, as the detection rate may vary

    4. Screen family history, extra points if can prove that relatives live long in good health

    5. Screen for monogenetic disorders

    6. Screen for AIDS, STDs, tuberculosis, etc.

    7. Provide general health check and fitness check

  2. Social

    1. As single men tend to be more active in any revolution, better provide a sex ration with mild overrepresentation of girls.

    2. Mix the groups so each would have properly diversified background, thus make any ethnic based faction harder

    3. Ask people to do some rituals boosting their loyalty, like signing the constitution, make official plea, whatever. To make any rebellion harder:

      • play according to the declared rules

      • make the rules somewhat one sided, but technically speaking leave a big place for working within the system, and just show any troublemakers, that regrettably they failed to find proper supermajority thus their idea is shelved

      • allow local level democracy - people would be hard to supervise anyway and in some cases the central gov would not be blamed for some local failures

  3. Result: Health:

    1. Based on studies concerning adopted kids there is a strong relation between IQ and genes, so as long as there would be no total collapse of educational system, such society would in long run have rather high IQ (or other mental metrics)

    2. Monogenic diseases would be seriously curbed (but in practice the result on public health would be mild)

    3. The population would be too small for some infectious diseases (like flu) or it would eradicate the overlooked cases of ex. HIV. Possibly there would be even some level of overreaction.

  4. Result: Society:

    1. There would be a baby boom and its echoes in next generations. The result would be even more severe than baby boom after WW2. It would put an extra strain on children/elder care.

    2. There would be one generation in which may have troubles with equal rights, as selection of younger women would cause lower educational level. That would be almost leveled in next generation, at worst in two.

    3. Big part of new generation would have mixed racial background, racial discrimination may be perceived in the same category as witch burning.

    4. If any positive and clearly visible outcomes of such selection happen, then eugenics may be perceived more positively, what would affect law system.

    5. If the emergency powers are not abused seriously, then some of them may be more accepted by the society. (Americans: think how in other countries guns were confiscated or national ID card issued) Needless to say, if there is a serious abuse then whole project may end in a one big civil war.

I’m especially interested in long term consequences and possible backslashes, side effects, etc. The whole selection process would just serve for back story, where quite rational selection process would simply shape the society with its own special characteristics.

  • $\begingroup$ is Organization interested in keeping old traditions, like monogamy? Or rather in repopulating Earth as fast as possible? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Aug 21 '16 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, state the fitness function of what they are trying to breed. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 22 '16 at 8:36

Only select women… and sperm.

Women work better together and will be far less violent. Sperm can be frozen and transported easily. Men would consume resources without providing a useful womb (assuming there are no artificial wombs). The women can easily be trained to fill all science and technical positions. You can't afford to have any dead weight.

With frozen sperm you can also bypass all inbreeding issues for generations to come, maybe indefinitely. They can easily select for sex while they screen for genetic problems. All pregnancies will be artificially inseminated anyway. The oldest verified mother was nearly 67, so there is no reason to worry about age. Science and hormones may be able to extend that even more.

You certainly wouldn't allow a couple to have TWO children with the same zygote parents, and you wouldn't leave such decisions up to random Friday night dates and mood lighting. If your entire population is women, they could pair off into couples (or triples) to co-parent. Some women might actually enjoy pregnancy while others would delay or abstain, but with an all female crew you've doubled your capabilities for pregnancies.

If you also bring frozen eggs, the scientists and engineers are not necessarily reusing their own DNA. The 1st generation could have maximum diversity with every individual being no genetic relation to any other – although you would still screen for genetic disorders so I'm not sure how useful this would be (maybe very useful if you suspect future generations will not have the same invitro technology).

They should not create any male births until the crisis has safely passed (when they reach a new planet, or however your ark works). Men carry less genetic information – most people are surprised by how much less – and the whole point of a breeding program is to be able to safely select for recessive genes. Y chromosomes would compromise that.

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People actually might not feel as bad about being left behind if they believed they would live on in some way, by contributing to a future human colony. I would hard sell the sperm/egg bank idea upfront to your general population, and tell everyone they are accepted. It would be up to future generations to decide if and when to use the bank anyway (and they might actually use it for gene splicing spare parts).

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There are a lot of unknowns here, since we don't really have an understanding of the Organizations goals.

Firstly, what sort of apocalypse is being mitigated here? If there is a world destroying cataclysm which will strip away the technological infrastructure of the world, then the survival traits will be built around strength, endurance, agility and hand-eye coordination in order to survive long term as hunter-gatherers. Your best bet in that case might be to sift through the pool of Olympic level athletes and SoF soldiers.

OTOH, if there is some sort of soft apocalypse where organic life is seriously impacted but there is still functioning infrastructure, then you might want to select for intelligence, cognitive ability, problem solving, memory and other aspects that would allow the survivors to quickly control, maintain and repurpose machinery and equipment.

Other issues that need to be addressed are the long term goals of the organization? Do they intend to repopulate the world as quickly as possible? Then they may have to select for youth, reproductive fitness and possibly mental attitudes which would allow for polygamy (since most humans respond best to monogamy). Breaking down long held biological and cultural taboos should also be looked at very carefully in case undesirable second and third order effects become manifest (one taboo which might have to be broken if rapid repopulation is a requirement might be incest).

Trying to use this for Eugenics is going to be fraught with problems as well; there is a tendency called reversion to the mean where children of exceptional parents (intelligence, height, beauty or other inherited attributes) tend to resemble the genera population rather than being even taller, more intelligent etc. You are not going to create a society of supermen, and will probably not even breed out diseases to a large extent either.

Seriously trying to use Eugenics to create a different sort of society (which is what is being attempted here) is going to run into the much larger problem of trying to move a massive object with a toothpick. Human evolution has taken place over between 2 and 5 million years (depending on where you want too assign your start point), and much of human biology is underlain by this fact. We also are not very clear even on which genes do what, how the genes are expressed and what so called "junk" DNA really does, so a quick and dirty breeding program over a few generations isn't going to make very many changes.

Human behaviour like gender roles, family structures, super groupings like family, clan, tribe or the various size groupings that human beings can recognize (family 7-10, Clan @ 30, Tribe @ 100 people) is likely not going to be impacted through breeding. Indeed, the only reason that things seem so different today isn't due to biology, but the fact that technology frees us from most of the traditional roles and limitations, and we have the wealth and surplus energy and resources to allow for experimentation. A post apocalyptic environment with limited numbers of people will likely see a quick reversion to traditional roles and values, as they were evolved over prolonged periods as being the most efficient means to ensure survival in a world with limited resources and energy.

So the Organization will have to define the nature of the apocalypse in order to determine the best possible pool of survivors, and the rate of replenishment (i.e. how fast to repopulate the world), while accepting that the various post modern ideas of human organization and gender are likely going to be swept away as humans draw upon the well tested responses that allowed us as a genus to survive for millions of years, and the Ancestors to survive through ice ages, megafauna and other hardships to migrate across the globe and become the Earth's dominant species.

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  • $\begingroup$ Questions that they would be going to another planet $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Aug 22 '16 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ i laughed at "quick and dirty breeding program" but this has a lot of great points $\endgroup$ – Marshall Tigerus Aug 22 '16 at 16:08

The hard part for your colony is that they're taking people from a wide variety of ethnic religious and racial backgrounds.

This might cause some tensions at least for the first few Generations. Let me be clear I don't think that the colony would necessarily split. But that it would be impossible to prevent the colonists from forming factions within the colony. Factions don't necessarily have to be hostile to one another but the possibility for hostility between factions would be there.

The IQ test my crazy overall average human intelligence but not buy as much as you think. True smarter people tend to have smarter kids, but they can also have stupid kids.

Another thing you might want to consider is adding more professionals with the skills you need to start a colony. Right now you're only considering skills in 10% of the cases I think we need a lot more doctors, Hunters, biologist, leaders than you think. Me personally I would raise it to around 25% or even maybe 30%.

There also the problem with the loyalty test there is no way for your test to work properly because the people will just say and do what ever they think will get them in the program.

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  • $\begingroup$ Would you go with homogenous colony, to select one milion of people with same ethnicity, religion etc.? $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Aug 23 '16 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadow1024 I didn't say that diversity in the colony doesn't have its benefits. ( personally I think a diverse colony is better than a complete homogeneous one) but those benefits come at the cost of Unity. Unity seems to be one of the main goals for this organisation who is Society of who will and will not go to the Colony. Also keep in mind that we really don't know what an ethnically diverse Colony would be like because it never has been one in history. Typically colonies are founded by people from the same or similar culture. $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Aug 24 '16 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ I think that we could have guess how some area of people with diversified background would look like. (USA, or bigger cities of Western Europe). Don't seem like a huge problem, except one allowed to pick would "accidentaly" ommit some ethnic groups. Thanks for inspiration, how from fully rational premisises the whole thing could be done even more nasty... $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Aug 25 '16 at 12:30

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