Episode 40

full
Published on:

14th Aug 2021

The Future of Genetic Engineering with Mark Ryall

Mark Ryall, author of Age Decoded, joins me to discuss his new book, his career in education, and we really get into the topic of genetic engineering. Mark talks about his love of teaching and how an unexpected foray into running with his young daughter bloomed into an intensely-competitive triathlon hobby, and how he never quite felt like he fit in at engineering school.

Genetic engineering is a topic that is easy to get lost in. There are so many moral and ethical concerns, and it can be quite difficult to understand in the first place. Mark and I cover many of the ethical issues and offer some attempt to make sense of CRISPR and related technologies.

Mark describes many of the aspects of his book, Age Decoded, and we even get to hear him read a couple lines from the text. Age Decoded is the story of what happens to humanity after we solve the problem of aging and eventually learn how to reverse it. The book is full of excitement, curiosity, and even some romance. It's a fun read and you really learn a lot about the possibilities of the future.

Thanks for tuning in, I hope you enjoy it!

Topics/keywords:

Education; coaching; parenting; running; long-distance running; University of Waterloo; engineering; mathematics; triathlon; physiology; aerobic capacity; David Sinclair; Harvard University; Steven Horvath; UCLA; George Church; diseases of aging; reverse aging; speculative fiction; CRISPR; gene editing; Huntington’s Disease; Imperial College London; nano-robotics; Nobel Prize; Intellia Therapeutics; Schizophrenia; Bi-polar disorder; Icahn Institute Genomics Institute; genetic depression; liver disease; Emmanuelle Charpentier; Jennifer Doudnachronic pain; clinical depression; Elon Musk; Neural-ink; Brave New World; Aldous Huxley; Françoise Baylis; Altered Inheritance; Dalhousie university; Halifax Nova Scotia; Harvard University Press; telomeres; C.S. Lewis; The Abolition of Man; eugenics; Adolf Hitler; obesity; Eddie Murphy; blindness; robotics; Ray Curtswhile; The Singularity; quantum computing; World Antidoping Agency; DNA; Eugenics; scientific education; WWII; Nazi scientists; blindness; Down’s syndrome; Turing test; 

Links:

Business inquiries/guest booking: Ramblebytheriver@gmail.com

Website: Ramblebytheriver.captivate.fm

Facebook: Jeff Nesbitt (Ramble by the River)https://www.facebook.com/jeff.nesbitt.9619

Instagram: @ramblebytheriver

Twitter: @RambleRiverPod

Youtube: https://youtube.com/channel/UCNiZ9OBYRxF3fJ4XcsDxLeg

Patreon.com/ramblebytheriver

Music Credit(s):

Still Fly, Revel Day.

Computerized Synthesis of Happiness, Oh The City.

Transcript

Mark Ryall Interview

intro jeff -:

[00:00:00] Jeff Nesbitt: Picture a world with no disease, no cancer, no aids, no non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, no pimples, no gout hit your a world without hungry children, a world without homeless veterans lining the streets, a world without war, because the people realize that they no longer needed it. Imagine a time when you could walk into a hospital order, a baby, just the way you like it, onions on the side.

[:

[00:00:52] What if we had the technology to literally rewrite the human story? What if we had access to the operating [00:01:00] system of human existence? What if we could edit our DNA? Like it was a Microsoft word document and create humans with capacities and abilities that we could only dream of. Yeah. I mean like some X-Men shit we're talking laser eyes, Brett smells like honey suckles and he never forgets your birthday.

[:

[00:01:48] Would it even be worth the risk?

[:

[00:02:15] genetic engineering is here to stay and it will impact the lives of us. So preach robot man. Preach the truth guys. I had a man, come on my show and talk about it. And that's why we're here today. Welcome to another exciting episode of ramble by the river. I'm your host, Jeff Nesbitt. It is Saturday, August 14th, the year of our Lord 2021.

[:

[00:03:09] They're both named Alex. One of them has a different last name right now, but pretty soon she's going to have the same last name. Mr and Mrs. Alex Mac, and I'm stoked about it. Not only is it adorable, but they're both very cool people. And I think they're going to make a great couple and have a wonderful, amazing life.

[:

[00:04:03] Right? Talked about curing all kinds of diseases. It was a really, really interesting conversation. And I hope you guys really know. I have always really liked dystopian literature. George Orwell has always been really cool and animal farm was probably the first one I ever read. I remember skipping band class to sneak off into the auditorium so I could read animal farms cause I was almost done with it and it was a short book.

[:

[00:04:54] So yeah, I, that one kind of led into 1984, which I read for the [00:05:00] first time, I think in eighth grade. Yeah. Maybe again in high school, I've read it so many times now and I read it in college and that was the first time I really understood what it was about. And I, I, to this day, that book still serves as like a reference point in a lot of my thought process when it involves authority.

[:

[00:05:44] Sounds an awful lot like Twitter, there are just very many parallels and, or not. I mean, technologically on top of that, like the telescreen they had these big screens, everyone had these big screens in their living rooms that would like took up a whole [00:06:00] wall and it was a cameras. They was, it was a TV. It was basically a flat screen TV with a camera so that the government gets by on you and you could watch TV and be entertained anyway.

[:

[00:06:35] And I think that's something that has always appealed to people who are thinking about the future. We see that evolution occurs and we see. We're moving in some direction. So it's a natural impulse to want to direct that direction. But now that we actually have the technology to do that, it's become pretty fucking scary because we can do all kinds of stuff, stuff, and there's so much going on in that [00:07:00] DNA, in the genome that is not active.

[:

[00:07:22] You just don't know. We have all that stuff, that extra stuff they used to call junk DNA, unexpressed genetic code. And it's, it's just backup stuff. It's the stuff you haven't needed yet. So if you start flipping those on, you never know what's going to happen. I don't know. Just sounds, it sounds risky. I hope they're really doing their research.

[:

[00:08:01] So there I have, I have no, uh, professional credentials. So don't. Take any of this stuff I'm saying as, as gospel, you know, I'm just doing my best to figure shit out too. So in the book, the specific kind of genetic engineering that mark Ryle wrote into the book was age decoding. He wrote in that they had figured out how to stop aging and then eventually to reverse aging.

[:

[00:08:49] We're fucking around with genes trying to change our code. Like that's just risky, but it is pretty cool. And it is, I do find it very exciting and I do [00:09:00] think they should do it. The government should pay for it. So I don't know, I'm on both sides, you know, I'm a, I'm a nervous Nelly, but also, um, I'm a liberal Lorraine, uh, That should have happened.

[:

[00:09:33] I have to humbly request that you please go onto apple podcasts or Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts. And please leave a five story. It takes less than five minutes and it really makes a big difference. Not only does it help the algorithm to know that the show is good and that they should start sending it to more people, but it also just makes me feel good.

[:

[00:10:10] I cannot express my gratitude enough. I love you guys. And I think we'll, let's just get to the show, right? So without further ado, please give it up for the one and only mark Ryle.

MAIN INTERVIEW

[:

[00:00:04] Mark Ryall: Here's Mark's bio.

[:

[00:00:14] he went to teach economics and mathematics he also loved coaching cross country a sport, which makes students stronger mentally and physically, he also began painting specializing. Ah, here is hello, mark. I was just reading your bio.

[:

[00:00:28] Jeff Nesbitt: Welcome to ramble by the river.

[:

[00:00:35] Jeff Nesbitt: Not at all. So this is the third zoom interview I've done on, on the podcast and I'm still getting used to it.

[:

[00:00:55] Mark Ryall: but okay, well I'll be patient. No problem. And I mentioned that I'm at [00:01:00] a I'm up north here, so I'm on a wire wireless. I did try a podcast a few days going to work well on zoom.

[:

[00:01:09] Jeff Nesbitt: Hey, we'll do what we can. If we have connectivity issues, we have connectivity issues. I had quite a few yesterday, but we're going to do the best we can. And, um, um, uh, planning on doing an hour, if that, if you got that, any of that would be perfect. Okay.

[:

[00:01:27] Jeff Nesbitt: The is released just as audio.

[:

[00:01:46] So, , do you want to start off just by telling, telling the audience a little bit about yourself and who you are personally and professionally?

[:

[00:02:06] And then I taught. I went into full-time high school, teaching economics and mathematics. and I've been doing that for about 25 years. So I just retired from that and, um, yeah, I loved the, I loved the job I loved. Um, I felt like I was learning a lot as I was, , working with young adolescents.

[:

[00:02:39] Uh, the cross country, the coaching, I think I did that for about I, I coach golf and, , an academic trivia thing before and also hockey, which is pretty big. Yeah. Um, but then I got into the running. Surprisingly, I got into it about, , 15 years ago when my [00:03:00] daughter who, who back then was eight, decide if she wanted to go running on the streets on her own.

[:

[00:03:26] And, uh, but within about three years, I couldn't keep up with her. So, uh, she, she still runs competitively. She's now 23, but she got me into there, the running, and then I stopped. Training myself and competing and I got into triathlon. So, um, it's sort of a funny how everything starts from one little. Yeah.

[:

[00:04:06] Jeff Nesbitt: Yeah. I actually have a similar story with my daughter. She's started really young and, she's only 10 now and she's been running for half her life and she competed in the junior Olympics last year or the year before last. And it's, it's a great thing to do with your kid, especially like, as a dad with a daughter, , some of the sports wouldn't be available to you to do with them.

[:

[00:04:49] Mark Ryall: so that's very good.

[:

[00:05:06] And I said, no, no, you're only going to run four times a week or whatever, and we're not going to overdo it. You're not going to get injured. And, , so burned out really trying to reel her in during the whole process. Yeah, exactly.

[:

[00:05:32] So it, while we're talking, feel free to branch off into tangents, feel free to talk about other things that we may not have even expected to talk about. That's, that's exactly what we're looking for. I'm trying to create some content. That's not exactly what would have been on every other podcast. , and usually that just comes from just relaxing and just being yourself, talking about whatever comes to mind. , but yeah, so we've got your attract coach. You love education, you're [00:06:00] into mathematics and economics where you, really good in school with math and that kind of thing? You seem like a technically minded person.

[:

[00:06:12] This is

[:

[00:06:14] Mark Ryall: In science, was always highly touted. And actually that became a bit of an issue for me because, um, it looked like as I was coming out of high school, going to university that I was going to be an engineer or something like that. And I know, I remember my mother, , just before I was heading off the university telling my neighbor and I was standing there with him.

[:

[00:06:54] But I knew I was expected to do that. And so I did go off to, to a [00:07:00] Waterloo. And within a year I did drop out of that program. I was doing very well. . I'm not boasting, but it was the top engineer in the program after one year. And the, I told , my advisor that I was going to beat the program.

[:

[00:07:31] Right. So he understood, he was pretty good about it. And off I went and I ended up finishing there with a science degree and lots of different courses. Yeah, I think it was a good decision for me, but it was a tough decision because, you have sort of expected to, you know, like, I'd say to your listeners out there, sometimes you're good at things, but that actually may not be what's the best role for you.

[:

[00:08:02] Jeff Nesbitt: I actually have. Pretty similar at college experience so I went to school studying psychology, and

[:

[00:08:37] And then all of a sudden, everyone doesn't believe the same things anymore because it's all based on just people's collective opinions. And I know it's, I know it's a soft science it's based on evidence and observation or studies and things like

[:

[00:09:11] Mark Ryall: love?

[:

[00:09:28] My parents were proud of me. Um, I've got two sisters, so while we're all pretty good students, but you know, I'm off. And I'm now at Western Vancouver studying, I've got a great scholarship. And again, I just sort of walked away from it, thinking I do not want to be a full-time scientists. , and I, I admired the scientists out there.

[:

[00:10:03] So it was a tough decision. I remember writing a little letter to myself and in the letter I said to go back into the lab and to continue would be, , a, um, secure, but cowardly move. And that's, that's sort of strikes right at the heart of it. Uh, I could have the security and I could do that. But, I need to be brave and find out what I'm supposed to do.

[:

[00:10:46] And, that really struck me that one little compliment. And that's when I started thinking about maybe teaching as a, as a serious career.

[:

[00:10:59] Mark Ryall: yeah. Explaining [00:11:00] things for reaching out to things, clarifying things. Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Yeah. So I

[:

[00:11:11] Comes across in pretty layman terms. Like it was, it was not hard to understand a lot of the concepts that you were talking about. How did you start first getting into the technical side of aging?

[:

[00:11:27] I was then competing at the world triathlon championships where I represented Canada, got seriously into traveling. , I I've noticed that in my age group, which is 60 to 65, they're very serious competitors. A lot of them are retired and they have tons of times in their hands. So they might do two or three workouts, a day, biking, swimming, running, stretching, whatever strengthening.

[:

[00:12:12] And they are, they actually are. So because your performance and your potential does drop off with aging. So I became quite intrigued by this concept and that, that conversation. So I started just sort of reading about it. , I was interested in the idea of, , physiology. Aerobic capacity and, , decline with aging.

[:

[00:12:49] Jeff Nesbitt: like David St.

[:

[00:12:54] Mark Ryall: Yeah. Yeah. He's a great example because he, um, David Sinclair for the listeners is, [00:13:00] is that Harvard. And although I believe he's from Australia himself, but , he's studying reverse aging and he's using dogs right now.

[:

[00:13:32] Wow.

[:

[00:13:36] Mark Ryall: Well, they're definitely circling the wagons. , him, there's another fellow Steven Horvath, , from UCLA is also looking at reversing the aging and biological clock. He calls it, um, the, and then the, uh, Shinya Yamanaka from, , Kyoto university has done a lot of work with stem cells and making cells more useful using, , stem cells.[00:14:00]

[:

[00:14:19] So these are serious researchers. And, uh, I don't know, like, uh, I'm not a genomicist and I'm not a leader in that scientific field, but it seems like a lot of very strong researchers are, are talking about stopping or reversing aging. And there, you know, in my book, it, it happens in the year 2054. Um, I don't know if you've reached that part where they, they actually announced the Nobel prize for the heroin and the book Dr.

[:

[00:14:51] Jeff Nesbitt: I'm about a third of the way. And, , so far it's great. It's, it's really piqued my interest because it, it does seem like it follows [00:15:00] right along the lines of reality and that this is a future that we could actually see.

[:

[00:15:10] So I wasn't trying to do some crazy, you know, drug induced, , science fiction, where I'm creating other planets and people and the societies and aliens. No, I was actually trying to forecast where I think we will be. It's called sometimes speculative fiction or, um, hard science fiction where you use the current technology and science and you just sort of move it forward, , as best you can.

[:

[00:15:36] Jeff Nesbitt: Are you a fan of speculative fiction and dystopian novel?

[:

[00:15:51] Jeff Nesbitt: It didn't come across as derivative. I didn't feel that it was something that like, you know, sometimes you'll read a book and it does have a lot of like [00:16:00] the vibe of books that you have already read in the same vein. This one did not have that. It felt like something that was very original.

[:

[00:16:19] Jeff Nesbitt: Yeah. How did you end up actually doing that? How did, how did that come about?

[:

[00:16:34] Respire and I'm not going to give the acronym because it's quite a polysyllabic mass, but it's, it's basically the primary premier editing technology right now. So they can use this CRISPR mechanism, which is a biological mechanism, , To edit people's genes, uh, fairly carefully. It's not perfect. So it goes in there and it sort of cuts out or replaces parts of people's DNA.

[:

[00:17:20] Jeff Nesbitt: I was just going to ask if that was a good analogy, like editing a Microsoft document like this it's actually pretty

[:

[00:17:39] So it's yeah, so it's pretty cool the way it works and, , it's not perfect. So , just like when you edit a document, sometimes you go in there and change and make a couple of other mistakes, like maybe you cut out of period at the end of the sense that you didn't mean to. Right?

[:

[00:18:15] So they teamed up and they won the noble cause they've really improved this technology, but you know, in 10 years it could be another technology, but they, yes, they can definitely add it. Your genes, like he would edit a text and, it's pretty fundamental cause we haven't done this as humans.

[:

[00:18:55] So

[:

[00:19:08] Mark Ryall: Yeah, so, yeah, exactly. And it's yeah, natural selection is not going to be. In fact, I don't know if you've reached a part of the book where there was some discussion about natural selection and the character Jesus, you might've met him.

[:

[00:19:31] Jeff Nesbitt: That's actually where I'm at right now

[:

[00:19:45] so basically a couple, let's say they're going to have children, but they're worried about a Huntington's gene they may have in their family. , so that gene they're worried about their offspring, so they can have like several embryos produced several embryos, and then the you'd use the PGD to just check each member and make [00:20:00] sure that the pick the one that's not right.

[:

[00:20:20] That's just more checking. Whereas I'm talking more like editing humans after they'd be born because they have a, , some sort of, uh, ailment that needs treated you still there. Yes. Okay, cool.

[:

[00:20:46] You can go in and S and edit the genetic code. Yeah,

[:

[00:21:10] Sort of like the drastic park thing where it'll, it'll be, what's called inheritable, and that's much more dangerous cause you better make sure wherever you're doing is not going to have any negative effects because it's going to get into the gene pool. Right. So right now the

[:

[00:21:27] Mark Ryall: I think, and I'm not sure on this one, but I think happy genomics is safer because you're not changing the fundamental genetic code, right?

[:

[00:22:00] And he did it. but he wasn't supposed to, like, that was frowned upon by most of the organizing bodies and commissions on Jeanette at X. So he, uh, because of the ethical concern, jailed by the Chinese government, I mean, cause that's going to get into the gene pool.

[:

[00:22:17] Jeff Nesbitt: be horrible if the cure for aids got into the gene.

[:

[00:22:39] It just changes the genes that are causing the problem. And I can give you an example. Um, actually just came out. There's a liver condition. I think it's called amyloidosis. And it's basically the liver produces a protein, which then causes nerve and heart damage to adults. And it's a progressive disease, but it's horrible.

[:

[00:23:16] This is just a few weeks ago. They reported this from Imperial college, London, they injected, a carrier they'd be like a nano body carrier to send instructions. They inject it in the blood. So it's sort of systemically injected. So it would go all over the body. But this, this chemical was directed to act only in the liver.

[:

[00:24:00] so we'll see where this heads, that's a breakthrough. And I think the company you. Which was involved with that. Jennifer do knew when the Nobel prize also is part of, is involved with Intellia. Their stock went up, , about 40, 45% that day because of the announcement of that study. Wow. That's huge.

[:

[00:24:19] Mark Ryall: Yeah. Yeah. So that's, you know, listen to your thinking. Well, you know, there's lots that can be done. Yes. And a lot of it's going to be really incredibly good for humanity. Uh, I mentioned cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease. Alzheimer's even psychological conditions, such as depression.

[:

[00:24:59] And , it's usually [00:25:00] not just one gene, so it's more complex, but, , once they start zeroing in , and then they have these methods of targeting those genes with, as I, as I should mention with the liver disease thing, , the possibilities are huge for, treating humans who really need help.

[:

[00:25:24] Mark Ryall: Yeah. And that was sort of the fun of writing a novel, like how far is this really going to go? And actually, since I've written it, and I only released it three months ago, a couple of things.

[:

[00:25:46] Jeff Nesbitt: about that on the show

[:

[00:25:59] I

[:

[00:26:03] Mark Ryall: Well, I wrote it before I wrote it about six months ago, so, and I didn't know about Neurolik so, but I made it that just shocked me because I guess the neuro link goes about a centimeter into the cerebrum and it's already integrating with about 50 neurons.

[:

[00:26:35] Jeff Nesbitt: a little bit, you included, I heard about the possibility of the government listening to individual's thoughts in the future, the paranoid guy. Yeah. I liked that because that's, that's exactly what people would do the first. I mean, that's what people will do. This, this will happen. It will, it will come to fruition eventually.

[:

[00:27:10] I imagine we're not far from that. And it's going to be really easy to be paranoid that somebody's tapping.

[:

[00:27:43] But when they go in for the procedure, there's a little bit of other unscrupulous tinkering that transpires

[:

[00:28:02] Mark Ryall: go ahead. Cause it comes

[:

[00:28:25] They think of it as a utopian future, even though they are in a full-on dystopia. And, but they're fine with it because they're medicated, but that's kind of what it seemed like. That was kind of to smooth over everybody's edges.

[:

[00:28:48] Frita, in the novel, she has nothing to do with this she's being captured and actually put underground. So she's not doing this nefarious stuff, but she had worked with this other scientists on the propensity to addictive behavior, which I imagine they're [00:29:00] probably studying right now. and then there's propensity to dissent or criticized.

[:

[00:29:21] Jeff Nesbitt: Yeah. And that seems like something that. Pretty science fiction-y, but really not all that crazy.

[:

[00:29:29] And, there's a, there's a quote in the novel. If, if you don't mind me reading it here, it's nice. Please get a middle, a couple of quotations. There's a fella named , who was married to the heroin. I mentioned who's captured Dr. Frieda who advanced age decoding now at Imad. he's working for the government.

[:

[00:30:13] That is to a high compliance with rules of authority, rendered sycophants in many societies and political systems. This can happen using means such as dictatorship, propaganda, materialism, magic, or religion. But in this case, it happened through genetic engineering.

[:

[00:30:35] Mark Ryall: Precisely. And I don't want to, I don't want to be too negative on this. And I think I start up, I think pretty positive implications of genetic engineering, but as with any technology, we're going to have to watch this one very carefully harvest it for the positive.

[:

[00:31:08] You know, the nuclear weapon the bomb is actually used a couple of times in enormous amounts of money and resources put into nuclear foreheads. And so any technology, even the information technology, you know, we see, some nefarious actors out there who, you know, cyber terrorists or a ransomware people who use it negatively.

[:

[00:31:34] Jeff Nesbitt: and that's the double-edged nature of all new technology, right? We got to make sure that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. And , I mean, a great example right now is Bitcoin because one of the main things that is keeping it from mass adoption is this kind of semi true semi-finals.

[:

[00:32:11] Mark Ryall: It is. And, , if I could put a plug in for one of our Canadian researchers up here, should I just read her book? It's a fantastic book. , now it's, it's nonfiction. Most of the stuff written is being nonfiction on seriously on this genetic engineering. , but her book is called altered inheritance and she, her name is Francoise baddies, and she's from Dalhousie university.

[:

[00:32:54] Not just scientists, not just politicians. People business people, normal citizens, [00:33:00] athletes, because you know, this is going to start happening in sports through they're going to be genetic engineering athletes, um, coaches, normal people, medical people, doctors, , physicians, researchers, all of them are gonna have to be involved.

[:

[00:33:24] Jeff Nesbitt: to establish what the world is going to be like from now on without blind spots?

[:

[00:33:31] she, she talks about all the commissions and things that have been said. , there'd been committees and commissions and why not? They can make all the statements they want about, you know, use genetic engineering this way. But then again, you see what happened with one Chinese researcher. I mentioned who crossed the moral border, um, But she said we still need to do our best.

[:

[00:34:23] Jeff Nesbitt: So if they're doing that now 20 years from now, we're going to see a crop of super athletes.

[:

[00:34:34] Mark Ryall: Yeah, it could be. Yep. That's gonna definitely be, , on the horizon.

[:

[00:34:58] Do you think that's going to lead to [00:35:00] any major changes in how we live?

[:

[00:35:12] And you'll see, as you get deeper into novel, some of the people there who are dealing with, , immortality annually, I call it. And, but also other factors, uh, and then when they start reversing, agent gets really bizarre for example, Jesus there in my book, who's a Buddhist, he's 76, but he, this he's gonna start reverse aging.

[:

[00:35:51] So you're going to have to limit, um, the new people. You're not going to have old people. If you reverse aging pretty well, everybody's going to be 25, 30 years old, that [00:36:00] sweet spot, whatever they pick, they target, they can target it. And. Many young people because nobody's dying. So you're going to have to control population and you want to have many old people.

[:

[00:36:21] Jeff Nesbitt: I think that would fundamentally disrupt the psychology of human beings.

[:

[00:36:46] Mark Ryall: I think it's going to be huge difference. And, , there's a character in my novel. You've met Simon who, um, early in the novel, she ends up losing what she thinks she's lost her father who was really being taken away secretly [00:37:00] by the government. They fake her suicide, her mother's suicide, and her father leaves because of all that.

[:

[00:37:24] This is Simon. I know she's 25 years old. She's she's aged Dakota and fiction five years old. Yeah. She's, uh, she is, uh, hot. I'm not sure why I put that in and it just, uh, it's sort of like, yeah, well, because she meets that young man, Jason, at the beginning, he's sorta like a 16 year old and she's really hot 25 year old, but it ends up being a very platonic, uh, but yeah, right.

[:

[00:38:10] And, he never finds out, the reader finds out. What's really going on she's saying to herself here I sit knawing pathetically. So she's nodding away. She takes the minute off sheets. Like some people cut themselves. She knows a way at her wrist in her bones in her hand, uh, few says here, I said nine pathetically, a sliver of one generation isolated in fertile, unable to relate or reach out.

[:

[00:38:56] What's it like to fully experience the cycle of life with loved ones. [00:39:00] I'll never know the joy of being a real mother, like women were in the old days. If I did come to know it, it would be in some artificial way, not naturally.

[:

[00:39:17] Mark Ryall: Yes. It's some sort of an adaptation and there's even a scene later on where, , I know I'm reading a lot from the novel, but no, it's great. The great thing about science fiction is you can actually feel and see and imagine these things happening. It's so much better than reading. Not what's not better, but it's different than reading a nonfiction about genetic engineering, because yeah, it puts you there and you can really get inside the heads of people and see how they might react to this.

[:

[00:40:04] So they go, and here's a game. And in this, during this game where the adults are watching these kids, these rare kids, , beside the soccer pitch , is a cemetery with a lot of old gravestones and all that. So you have to picture the game, the pitch, and then the cemetery with, all tons of stones, old stone.

[:

[00:40:54] As if to say, we know you're there, we can see you when we want to. [00:41:00] And we very much know what you're about at this boundary between the cemetery and the soccer pitch, the old and the young, the two, four Lauren groups of this new world whispered unified statements and made mutual offering.

[:

[00:41:21] Mark Ryall: it's pretty direct. You have the old, which is the stones in the cemetery and the young, which is the kids. And they're both very rare now sort of reaching out to each other, um, as they call it here, beautiful respect.

[:

[00:41:47] Jeff Nesbitt: and then the current state of things. It's just, it's almost as if everyone's frozen in a moment

[:

[00:41:53] Most people are from, yeah, most people are 25 years old just watching the game. Right. Those are the two groups just eking out an [00:42:00] existence, the young people and the gravestones. It would be a world that would be changed. And by my novel, I look at the aging because that's one of the so-called diseases that is seriously being looked at and they're trying to conquer.

[:

[00:42:35] Jeff Nesbitt: That sounds so dangerous.

[:

[00:42:43] Jeff Nesbitt: I don't think of aging as a disease, uh, Again, I'm not a scientist, but I've, I think about existential issues a lot. And I really think that there's something to us being an animal. And I, I think that if we remove [00:43:00] that mortality aspect from our being, then we're going to be less animal and, and more, I hate when people compare humans to gods, because it sounds so lofty and it where we're not gods, but that's almost what it seems like it's trying to do is to elevate us above , the rest of the natural world.

[:

[00:43:47] We can, we know how to cut down a tree. We know how to kill a bacteria, but if we have all those skills to control our environment, and on top of that, we're immortal, we're going to ruin this place.

[:

[00:44:22] And I've mentioned a few. And so anything, anything physical or mental that has any genetic basis in our DNA structure is fair game. And, , is there any kind of psychological, Oh, I was

[:

[00:44:41] Mark Ryall: I think everything has some. Genetic basis. And also, , some, environmental basis, it's sort of a combination of the two. Right. But my, as I said, we'd been focusing on the environmental and nurturing each other. Now the whole other side is, controllable,

[:

[00:44:59] Mark Ryall: [00:45:00] So it just changes the whole.

[:

[00:45:25] And so Eddie Murphy is, and Dan not grader are used as the two specimens in this and, and, um, Basically Eddie Murphy is seen, uh, he was seen as somewhat disadvantage. He was from the African-American population and, you know, so they plucked them off the streets and they said, look, if we give this guy the right environment, um, I bet we can make him as successful as Dan accurate and then act, right.

[:

[00:46:07] Um, I really highly recommend it. They're great actors to them too. So I'm curious to, um, I won't tell you how it turns out. Yeah, it's great. It's, there's some really funny moments, but it's a $1 bet between these two other rich guys saying, I think we can turn this guy, Eddie Murphy into a successful corporate CEO, and then you could ruin this other guy just by changing their environment.

[:

[00:46:31] Jeff Nesbitt: getting a little bit of background noise on your mic. Could you make sure your mic is not bumping into stuff? The nature versus nurture actually not nature versus, but the nature and nurture debate or discussion, whatever you want to call it is I think a fundamental one that everybody should understand because it's not necessarily, it's like, it's not which one of these things is determining who you become.

[:

[00:47:14] And they've already shaped him and they will continue to shape him along with the stimuli from his new environment. people want to think of it as like a. They want to explain the individual as they are now in this exact moment. And so they only look at everything leading up to that point, but really we're, we're dynamic creatures that are living , in an environment that has a time element.

[:

[00:47:42] Mark Ryall: Yeah. That's very well said, Jeff, I like that. Yeah. . So, um, in the end I simplified or did my novel. I've tried to focus on one physical thing, although it's a complex thing called aging and then one psychological thing, the propensity to [00:48:00] scent I could have brought in all sorts of other variables and manipulated you select the propensity for design would be good for a seat SQL.

[:

[00:48:28] And so I wanted to bring in, , some potential scandal there on the sort of a political front. And I noticed my book. if you look at some of the Amazon, ratings and why not, it seems to be doing, like, I never thought it was writing a book about politics, but there's actually a fair amount of politics in it.

[:

[00:48:49] Jeff Nesbitt: Yeah, I'll an scenario that most people are definitely afraid of.

[:

[00:49:05] So wander zone one is on. And then the people within there, like this Amad fellow, I mentioned who find out what's really going on and then, you know, good people in a bad system And so there is some political, , give and take in the novel and definitely some ethical, philosophical, , dissertation by, especially by this older fellow Jesus.

[:

[00:49:31] Jeff Nesbitt: So I have a question that maybe you could shed a little light on.

[:

[00:49:43] Mark Ryall: So, um, biological aging is sort of the physical representation of how old you are. So if you could use genetic engineering to stop aging, right then nobody would biological age anymore. They would stop. Let's say they're 50 years old and they can be aged to, or genetically [00:50:00] modified. They would never biologically age beyond 50.

[:

[00:50:08] Jeff Nesbitt: how's that your measure or defined.

[:

[00:50:22] How strong are you or have you had any drop-off in your, capacities? So there's no exact definition I know of, but it's sort of what we think of as you know, how old are you? If you have somebody, how old are you? The sort of like, they give you right now. They give you your biological age, right?

[:

[00:50:53] That's my man. I, she says my, my biological age is 25, but my Kronos logical age is 200 and [00:51:00] something or whatever it was. so that's the difference. The telomeres, I don't know a lot about that, but they apparently, they are structured, embedded in the edge of the DNA that, , they shrink as people do get older.

[:

[00:51:27] Jeff Nesbitt: okay. So it shows the wear and tear on your DNA.

[:

[00:51:30] okay? I

[:

[00:51:48] first of all, I don't even know if you're religious or what it doesn't matter, but in historical terms, was there ever a time when people lived much, much longer than we live right now?

[:

[00:52:17] you know, going back the life expectancy is much lower. but I am, I'm not I'm spiritual. I'm not, uh, I was brought up a Catholic and I did go to Jesuit high schools. And actually my mother was a Catholic nun at one point I, that would be another part test to try to explain where I came from, if my mother was a Catholic nun, but, um, in brief, she, she left the comment and then met my father and they they're still married, actually snuck through 67 years.

[:

[00:53:04] he's he was good because he was an academic, but he could also reach out to average folks with his writing and he wrote, , and I find that so prophetic, he wrote this book called the abolition of man. So he's already thinking of like, whoa, what's going to happen to humans. What, what will be the of humans ?

[:

[00:53:43] I guess that's 80, 79 years ago. And he even said a little later man's power over nature. Turns out to be power exercised by some men over other men with nature as its instrument. Oh, that's good. He's looking at that pretty seriously. That's yeah, that's unbelievable. He wrote that [00:54:00] so long ago,

[:

[00:54:04] He probably meant any kind of genetic control.

[:

[00:54:20] Jeff Nesbitt: Yeah. That seemed like the perfect term. Isn't that the Latin root means.

[:

[00:54:24] Mark Ryall: Yeah. Yeah. Good. Yep. Pretty much.

[:

[00:54:32] Mark Ryall: Yeah. It's the same route.

[:

[00:54:55] So it's, it's, it's easy to say that word and people just [00:55:00] automatically are repulsed by the concept, but it's not all that much different on a foundational level to what we're talking about here with genetic engineering and designer babies and that kind of thing. And I really think over the long-term genetic engineering would have.

[:

[00:55:24] Mark Ryall: I think, uh, hopefully we don't look at it as so negatively and you know, our, our hair doesn't bristle, , on the back of our necks, the possibilities here are great, but it's going to be, it won't be, I don't think it would be like a Hitler, like tater determining it. It'd be more like parents, we just need one line charismatic, super different.

[:

[00:56:27] A group in the United States just came out with, , some very interesting stuff on a specific gene. I can't remember the name of the chain that they think is most important. There are other genes that they think this gene causes people I'm calling it the propensity. Become overweight. And so there that's very, and, and a bunch of other American scientists just came out with that a couple of weeks ago.

[:

[00:56:51] Jeff Nesbitt: gene related with the TBI? Oops, sorry,

[:

[00:57:08] Um, it's gene, this is not that romantic GP are 75. So they've isolated that gene as , very highly linked to obesity and explaining why some people tend to put on weight and others. Don't

[:

[00:57:31] Just with their gut saying, oh no, that's wrong. And I don't know if that's true. , I know that what was done with eugenics back then in the thirties and forties was horrible. And I know that that has led to what people think of now. But I think that probably before Hitler got his hands on that technology before any of that was an issue, people probably had a very similar opinion of what could happen with eugenics as we do right now, as we enter this new age of genetic engineering.

[:

[00:58:08] Cause the diseases.

[:

[00:58:14] So I don't want that to be a factor.

[:

[00:58:34] So they literally inject genetic, code into the retina. And then it goes to the parts of the eye mechanisms that are causing the issues and tries to tries to genetically modify that part of the eye. That's pretty cool. And they're doing that with many other elements, but blindness, when you think about it, should we, as a society say that blindness is bad, actually, a lot of blind people in blind organizations [00:59:00] feel that, the idea that blindness is bad should not be embraced.

[:

[00:59:22] Jeff Nesbitt: Yeah. I imagine so because some people probably like the way they are. And do you think Stevie wonder is faking it?

[:

[01:00:01] And he's smiled.

[:

[01:00:08] Mark Ryall: Yeah, but even like, say down syndrome, for example, a lot of people who have down syndrome, children think of them as precious and yes, they are different, but we don't want to be ostracizing them. And should we be trying to eliminate that type of reality from the human condition?

[:

[01:00:47] Like, how are we even going to know how good we have.

[:

[01:01:12] Every could become more robotic, like designed. is there going to be almost like a convergence between robots which are becoming more humans and humans, which would become more like robots?

[:

[01:01:28] Mark Ryall: Yes. And then, you know, when you get it to the. The idea of, , re Kurtz Wells, , the singularity, which some of your listeners may have heard about where you have artificial intelligence, you mentioned machines integrated with all of that and neural links and it's genetic engineering is on quantum computing, which, uh, I have a little bit of fun of that in my novel too.

[:

[01:02:08] Super, super intelligent. Yeah. Yeah. So imagine power, power, trillions of times, more powerful so let's

[:

[01:02:40] I think that's a very legitimate possibility that we could have that in the next a hundred years where we have these computers designing these humans to be like the, the ultimate warrior or the ultimate creative or whatever.

[:

[01:03:23] 3d printing them. So. When did, when are we not human anymore? So, you know, you almost, you know, the Turing test for determining if a robot is a human, we're going to need a test to determine if a human is not a human anymore. I don't know. It's almost like the converse test to, or to the Turing test the name for that.

[:

[01:04:13] But for the younger people, I think you're going to see a lot of this and it's going to come full force it starting now a lot of genetic stuff it's exciting, but I think we need to learn my job is to just educate people as I did myself, uh, sort of self-taught myself, this, and then think about it as you can learn about it and spread the word and get people, um, get people embracing this and I'm certainly in supporting it, but understanding it and wanting to, , project into the future and even get involved maybe as scientists or as Never just society and, you know, have an impact.

[:

[01:05:15] UFO's and they're, they're moving at speeds that we've never seen before. They're able to kind of shirk the laws of gravity and everyone's just kind like, yeah, whatever. What do you think about all that?

[:

[01:05:59] you still there [01:06:00] mark

[:

[01:06:02] Mark Ryall: for a second. Oh, so here in ghosts and other, uh, yeah. Okay. Or, um,

[:

[01:06:15] Mark Ryall: me

[:

[01:06:22] Jeff Nesbitt: I can hear you. Yeah. Um, okay. Well, , I've gone through my questions and this has been really a great, great podcasts. Do you have anything else that you'd like to talk about before we wrap this up?

[:

[01:06:52] If, especially if you have an important topic that you want to share with others and you can do it through, you know, music, , [01:07:00] or her writing or poetry or any various ways. , and don't be a don't limit yourself. Don't think you're, you know, you're not a creative person or you're not an artist. No, you can't paint or whatever.

[:

[01:07:21] probably with inside you the capacity to be creative and be an artist and share with others very well said.

[:

[01:07:36] Mark Ryall: I tried to get it through a publisher book 10 years ago, I had no success because it was difficult to get any agent for New York publisher to read any, even a sentence. , and that's understandable. It's a competitive market. I'm a first time author. So what I did this time when I revamped it I had a number of look at it, and

[:

[01:08:13] Cool.

[:

[01:08:24] Mark Ryall: Thank you, Beth. It was, it was humbling and it was an honor to, to join you on your great show. Well,

[:

[01:08:32] Okay guys, that was the end of the interview. That was great. That was nice. Mark. Ryall cool guy. Check out his book. It is called age decoded. It's available on Amazon and it's available through Kindle. That's where , I'm reading it right now. Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you next time.

Show artwork for Ramble by the River

About the Podcast

Ramble by the River
with Jeff Nesbitt
Ramble-(verb)
1. walk for pleasure, typically without a definite route.
2. talk or write at length in a confused or inconsequential way.

Ramble by the River is about becoming the best human possible.

Join me, Jeff Nesbitt and my guests, as we discuss the blessing that is the human experience in the year 2021. No matter what 2020 brought you, I have some ideas about how to improve the way you see things, and subsequently the way you experience your own life. This show is loosely structured to allow for spontaneous growth into unexpected areas so it is hard to say what will pop up, but common topics will include: technology, culture, education, psychology, drugs, health/fitness, history, politics, investing, blockchain/cryptocurrencies, and many more!

What does it mean to be a person in 2021? Is there really a right and wrong way to do it? We live in a time unlike any other. How has our species changed to accommodate the world that we have so drastically altered? What defines our generation? Where are we going? What is coincidence? Is time a mental construction? What happens after death? Which Jenifer is better looking (Lopez or Anniston)?

Tune in to any one of our exciting upcoming episodes to hear a comedian, a New York Times Best-Selling author, a fancy artist, a plumber, the Mayor of a large urban metropolis, a cancer survivor, a Presidential candidate, Jeff's dad, a female bull-riding champion, the founder of a large non-profit charity organization, Elon Musk, a guarded but eventually lovable country musician, a homeless guy, a homeless woman, a commercial fisherman, a world-renowned photo-journalist, or Kanye West.

When you go on a ramble, you never know where you are going to end up. All you can do is strap-in and enjoy the ride!
Support This Show

About your host

Profile picture for Jeff Nesbitt

Jeff Nesbitt

Jeff Nesbitt is a man of many interests. He is infinitely curious, brutally honest, and genuinely loves people. Jeff grew up in a small coastal community in the Pacific Northwest and after college he moved back to his hometown to start a family. When the Covid-19 crisis hit in 2020, regular social engagement was not an option, and Jeff realized that the missing ingredient in his life was human connection. So, like the fabled Noah and his Ark, Jeff started building a podcast studio without knowing what his show would actually be. Before the paint was even dry, Jeff start recording interviews with interesting friends, and Ramble by the River was born.