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To My Valued Fellows,

As we are all aware, our people have made tremendous progress both evolutionarily and technologically. Thanks to us, our species is protected from the ravages of cancer and we have developed the means to fabricate any product we may desire. Combined with our latest invention, allowing us to move between dimensions and so effectively eliminate travel times, our society has achieved an unprecedented level of perfection. For this, I must congratulate you all.

However, I must also bring to point the dark side of our developments. Our world is dying. Overpopulated and under cared for, my analysis reveals that, without major corrective action in the next few centuries, just a handful of generations, it will cease to be habitable by even those in our species with the hardiest of genetic alterations. As has been the case for millennia, it falls to us to safeguard the future of our species.

Our people are unwilling to change their ways, so we must ensure their compliance. I propose we employ a species-wide modification that is slow-acting enough to prevent our people from realizing what is happening. This will safeguard our work long enough to make the changes irreversible, no matter how much anger is directed towards us and our purpose.

I have already begun work on a virus that will enable our world's flora to control a certain small, planet-wide species of bloodsuckers. However, I am asking each of you to devise and propose a mechanism that can be deployed via the bite of this insect and will initiate and further a slow, nonlethal genetic change. Be open to criticism on your idea, as they will be discussed at length come the meeting at the hibernal solstice. The mechanism that is safe, efficient, and hardest to notice will be implemented.

Once our kin are too far gone to offer reasonable resistance, we will be free to dismantle the modern structures. The world will heal itself and our species will be safe.

Sincerely,

Myrissar E'dan Wudende

Chief Officer of the Future

P.S.: Make sure to enjoy the hibernal celebrations this year, and come to the meeting prepared to discuss any specific genetic changes you want for yourself.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand the part about "our world will cease to be habitable by even those in our species with the hardiest of genetic alterations", but then asking for ideas for specific genetic changes to ensure survival. $\endgroup$ – Thom Blair III Dec 8 '16 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @ThomBlairIII The "major corrective action" is the reversing of the species' progress to an animal-like level of existence, where they no longer need or want the modern amenities that are destabilizing the environment. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 8 '16 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ Oh!! O.o Well, that sure is a plot twist for people to wake up to! Ok, thanks. $\endgroup$ – Thom Blair III Dec 8 '16 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ You may need a further question on this topic: if your people are unwilling to change their ways, then you should be considering them to be an intelligent adversary trying to impede your progress. Any fully thought out plan should be carefully tailored to the opposition's capabilities (which we do not know) $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 8 '16 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon The "Fellows" are basically a world-spanning body of scientists that are responsible for advancing and guiding the planet. Since this isn't where my stories are to take place, I haven't put much thought into the specific restrictions/observers in place for the organization. For now, assume they're unlimited in what they are allowed to do, but there are people with similar technology. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 8 '16 at 16:16
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If I understand your question (in bold) correctly, you are only interested in how to make a vector for an agent of genetic change, not what the change should be or how to ensure exposure of all the planets population to the mosquito-analog, correct?

In this case, the mosquito analog needs to have a renewable cell culture that can harbor your genetic virus, but allow the virus to pass into the human host. So the virus can be shed in a saliva compound that coats the proboscis (basically inoculating each human during each feeding) or resides in the analgesic compound used to numb the human to the effect of the bite or anti-coagulate to assist in blood flow. This way each feed infects the human.

You want the mosquito to harbor a "clean" source of the virus so that you get the desired change each time. It is likely that the virus will mutate once it gets into a human host and undergoes billions of replications within all the cells, but so long as the mosquito can't pass this mutated form of virus to another human each infection will start with the "pure" viral strain. So you want to make sure that the mosquito creature can't itself be infected by the mutated virus and start to infect humans with this altered form. Every bite has to give just the pure virus, nothing else. Granted, the virus is replicating inside the mosquito creature as well, but with just a small cell culture organ and a short lifespan there shouldn't be as much of a risk of the virus mutating within the bloodsucker itself.

Edit- Additionally, you wan this change to be slow. One solution is to have a two stage process. Stage One is the mosquito-analog delivered virus for gene therapy. BUT this alteration, but itself, is silent, it does not affect the organism. But once you have affected most of the population, who are unaware of the change since it has no apparent effect, you then release a SECOND stage that activates the newly inserted gene. You can do this via inserting a second upregulator gene, altering the epigenetics to begin expression of the newly encoded protein, adding a new substance into the population food supply that activated the new gene's products, or even add a prion protein that reconfigures the harmless new protein made by the new gene into the bioactive form that gives your desired effect.

This way the population has already been altered, they just don't know it, and you can control the activation of the secondary stage in a more manageable fashion (since waiting for mosquitos to bite everyone is gonna be a LONG process).

It sounds like you want some type of neurodegenerative process that strips away higher levels of intelligence, or at least blunts ambition, greed, and innovation, making your population more passive, docile, and less prone to hoarding material goods. Shouldn't be too hard to do this without impacting the health and well-being of the organism. But dial it down to far and you will have to do some serious modifications. We can no longer survive without tool use, clothing, etc unless the environment is just right.

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  • $\begingroup$ You have the right idea about my interest, except I'm also interested in how, exactly, the agent would effect its change without killing the host. Still, I like what you have here, so +1. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 8 '16 at 15:58
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I would say that you need something very precise to prevent harmful genetic mutations. Nano-scale robots programmed to modify the DNA of the germline cells, rather than just the somatic, passed by mosquitos.

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Dearest Fellows,

Simply stated, this is impossible.

Survival is the utmost concern for our population, so there is no real way to hide a change this drastic from everyone. First and foremost, other groups will take notice of our actions to infect insects. Next, those receiving routine gene alterations will decide to improve upon their genetic structures when they are inferior to distant ancestors, and peers in un-infected regions. Most importantly, this new disease which changes our genetic makeup will very clearly be seen as a threat to society, and eliminated; its lack of hostility means it won't combat vaccination efforts in any way, and direct intervention on our part will inevitably cause suspicion.

People will notice us, and punish us, because there is no feasible way to hide a change this drastic.

Even if we are't detected, we will leave future generations vulnerable.

Extinction Events
I know that some of our associates have proposed foreign pathogens, and described ways in which they may be designed to have the best possible effects. Even in these scenarios, the reduction of our proud race to an animalistic carnivore will be detrimental to our continued survival. Events such as the Late Colossal Terran Extinction, which eliminated most of our complex, land-dwelling ancestors, and the Pre-Quarternary Mass Extinction, which eliminated 96% of life on our homeworld, will undoubtedly occur regardless of how we change society. Regardless of how we shape our evolution, we will remain, to a degree, vulnerable to these disasters.

Unfitness to Survive
Normal evolutionary pressures will be active once the population becomes primitive. Even if we Fellows keep or improve our current genetic codes, we will lose the infrastructure and technology allowing us to impact the global population - evolution will take the reins, and we may not be able to catch up. Therefore, our newly created, dehabilitated mixtures of monsters and men will have to fend for themselves. We cannot help them, and, unless we preprogram everything necessary for fitness, they may not be prepared to return to the wild.

The World's too far Gone to Abandon
While we may like to rely on clean energy, you point out that our world will lose habitability in a few generations. Even if there is a logistically feasible way to infect the population, and even if realization is out of the question, we will be leaving a polluted world for these creatures to inhabit. After infrastructure collapses, power plants decay, and high-maintenance factories are unmanned for too long, we will release toxins into the areas we inhabit as a species.
It's worth noting that if our solution to pollution is removing the polluters, the pollution will still be there where we left it.

Additionally, there is no feasible way to effect our breatheren on other planets or in space.

And finally, altered individuals would not reproduce with unaltered individuals. Therefore,

We are crossing the species line.

Instead of keeping our kin alive, we are dissipating our society into something engineered in a lab and unlike them. It's worth asking if this is "the survival of our species" or the end of a proud race due to a powerful madman's machinations.

Fellows, I beg you.
Do not allow this scheme to continue. It will be stopped dead in its tracks due to reasonable opposition, and even if we eliminate the opposition, it is a logistical nightmare that will end our species as we know it - potentially for good.

Urgently,

Adelaide Baradotzi

Keeper of the Peace


P.S. If the opposition is not as strong as I suspect, perhaps some of us can migrate and be altered, while others may remain and clean up the planet through traditional reform and efforts. If one fails, the other may still succeed. It's worth working out the details, but note that if the altered population gives consent, there is no need to diffuse our genes - simple modification will do the job (and answer your question in full).

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  • $\begingroup$ I have counter arguments to each of these points, but detailing them all would be A) too much for a comment, and B) would tend to bias future answers in regard to this world. Additionally, it's important to note that this is a question about an event that has already happened; I just needed to know how the genetic transformation was propagated. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Dec 9 '16 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I would love to revise my answer based on your feedback; I'm somewhat busy at the moment but let's continue in chat later $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Dec 9 '16 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ Saying "but it's already happened I just need to explain it" is not justifiable because as written it cannot have happened. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Dec 9 '16 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre How about we continue here? There's enough space to do so and future answers will not be affected if they choose not to look. If you disagree with this answer it would be helpful to tell me why and where so that it can be fixed. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Dec 10 '16 at 3:39
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I am afraid that a virus would not work.

Viruses work by getting in a cell, changing the Database of New Amino acids (fine. I know that is not what it stands for, but it is what it does) so that the cell manufactures new viruses, and not the necessary amino acids. It They then escape the cell that made them:

Release – Viruses can be released from the host cell by lysis, a process that kills the cell by bursting its membrane and cell wall if present

(Source: wikipedia: virus)

True, you can also use "a lysogenic cycle where the viral genome is incorporated by genetic recombination into a specific place in the host's chromosome."(wikipedia). However: "at some point, the provirus or prophage may give rise to active virus, which may lyse the host cells."(guess! yep, wikipedia).

Conclusion:

You need a completely alien sort of harmless pathogen. Earth viruses don't do what you want.

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