What if it was a game?

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Discussion by: Sjoerd Westenborg

I would like to introduce a little thought experiment we can have some interesting discussions about. Hopefully some fun too.

Imagine that life was a game, and the goal was to leave as big a ‘genetic legacy’ (i.e. the amount of your genes present in the next generation and their chances of being passed on to the generation after that) as possible. In a way this is actually the case, of course, but I don’t think there are many people who consider this their primary motivation for building a career and having children.

But imagine this was your goal. What would be the best strategy? Anything goes, from ‘spreading the seed’ as wide as possible to focusing all your resources and hopes on one precious child. Bonus points are awarded for ensuring a good quality of life for your ‘carriers’. 

16 COMMENTS

  1. The way to get maximum “bang for your buck” so to speak, is to purposely mutate your eggs or sperm in hopes of generating a gamete with a brand new transposon present in it. You’d have to sort the gametes somehow and screen them to isolate the sperm or egg possessing the transposon. Then use the gamete to fertilize (or be fertilized).

    Next you’d need a little luck. This step would involve the offspring resulting from your union of the sperm and egg to generate it’s own sperm or egg with multiple copies of the transposon. A little more luck: the multiple copies needs to confer advantage to the person possessing them. In a few hundred thousand years, this transposon, originating in your DNA could be ubiquitous throughout the entire (new) human population.

    Think I am full of shit??? Google the mariner transposon and enjoy! (There are an estimated 14 thousand copies of Mariner in the human genome comprising 2.6 million base pairs)…. read on….

    Great discussion question!!!!

  2. As well as the aethetic , charm and wit qualities , you would also probably have to be born with selfish , manipulative,sociopathic and misogynistic traits.

    In todays world it would be very hard indeed to convince a partner to engage in unprotected sex. The only possible way is if you could instill the perception of possessing some outstanding genetic traits and hence the partner wanting to have unprotected sex.

  3. It’s been done before! – Top warlord with lots of concubines and conquests!

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0214_030214_genghis.html

    Genghis Khan a Prolific Lover, DNA Data Implies

    An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million descendants living today.

    Khan’s empire at the time of his death extended across Asia, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea. His military conquests were frequently characterized by the wholesale slaughter of the vanquished. His descendants extended the empire and maintained power in the region for several hundred years, in civilizations in which harems and concubines were the norm. And the males were markedly prolific.

    Khan’s eldest son, Tushi, is reported to have had 40 sons. Documents written during or just after Khan’s reign say that after a conquest, looting, pillaging, and rape were the spoils of war for all soldiers, but that Khan got first pick of the beautiful women. His grandson, Kubilai Khan, who established the Yuan Dynasty in China, had 22 legitimate sons, and was reported to have added 30 virgins to his harem each year.

    • In reply to #4 by Alan4discussion:

      It’s been done before! – Top warlord with lots of concubines and conquests!http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/02/0214030214genghis.htmlGenghis Khan a Prolific Lover, DNA Data ImpliesAn international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million descendants living today.Khan’s empire at the time of his death extended across Asia, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea. His military conquests were frequently characterized by the wholesale slaughter of the vanquished. His descendants extended the empire and maintained power in the region for several hundred years, in civilizations in which harems and concubines were the norm. And the males were markedly prolific.Khan’s eldest son, Tushi, is reported to have had 40 sons. Documents written during or just after Khan’s reign say that after a conquest, looting, pillaging, and rape were the spoils of war for all soldiers, but that Khan got first pick of the beautiful women. His grandson, Kubilai Khan, who established the Yuan Dynasty in China, had 22 legitimate sons, and was reported to have added 30 virgins to his harem each year.

      Yeah, but was he happy?

  4. Is the (real-world) goal to generate the largest genetic legacy or the longest-enduring genetic legacy? One bacterium can replicate itself gagillions of times and still fail to last longer than a century due to a local catastrophe, whereas humans are pervasive worldwide. Even though we pass on our genes to two-to-three individuals each generation, those are fairly robust specimen compared to the aforementioned bacteria, and most of our ancestors in between.

    At the same time, ants and mice outnumber us by collective body mass, and while we’ve touched the moon, our space colonization program is going more slowly than we liked (though still at a breakneck pace on geological time). But once we have truly self-sustaining colonies, or enough colonies that a fraction of them can support each other (then the human race will have attained virtual immortality, where even global disasters would be considered localized.

  5. I agree that sperm donation is probably the way to go, perhaps followed by a sex selection procedure . Not sure if selecting for males or females would be the best. Intuitively, I think males, because of their capacity to produce large numbers of offspring, also via sperm donation. Laws limit the number of children conceived by donor sperm, so some manner of subterfuge needs to be employed in this regard. Maybe sperm donation in countries that allow many trips to the sperm bank and no limit to the number of offspring.

    • There was a guy in California (I think — not an important detail, so I won’t fact check for the state)…. Anyway, he ran the fertility clinic and noticed that paying men to donate was leaving him short of walking around cash. Anyway, he fraudulently used his own sperm to impregnate some huge number of female clients (anecdotal evidence was that the number was around 1500). The implications are a bit staggering and potentially hilarious.

      In reply to #7 by Nitya:

      I agree that sperm donation is probably the way to go, perhaps followed by a sex selection procedure . Not sure if selecting for males or females would be the best. Intuitively, I think males, because of their capacity to produce large numbers of offspring, also via sperm donation. Laws limit the number of children conceived by donor sperm, so some manner of subterfuge needs to be employed in this regard. Maybe sperm donation in countries that allow many trips to the sperm bank and no limit to the number of offspring.

    • In reply to #7 by Nitya:

      I agree that sperm donation is probably the way to go, perhaps followed by a sex selection procedure . Not sure if selecting for males or females would be the best. Intuitively, I think males, because of their capacity to produce large numbers of offspring, also via sperm donation. Laws limit the number of children conceived by donor sperm, so some manner of subterfuge needs to be employed in this regard. Maybe sperm donation in countries that allow many trips to the sperm bank and no limit to the number of offspring.

      well if we can get away with such things in a game, maybe to open a clinic or better yet a chain of clinics. impregnate every patient with your own little fallas.

      one of the fringe benefits of donation is that the recipients arelikely to be good parents, or at least mothers who have the means to bring your children up in a good environment so they can prosper and have a better mate choice (plus you keep one or two on the books to take over the business).

      the downside i guess is your offspring may accumulate genes for poor fertility

    • In reply to #9 by Jussie:

      Engineer a virus that kills all except you and your offspring and win the game!

      problem with this is your genes die with you.

      better yet, engineer a virus that infects everyone and kills no one. a retrovirus carrying your own genes…

      boom. i win!

    • In reply to #9 by Jussie:

      Engineer a virus that kills all except you and your offspring and win the game!

      That would mean that your offspring would be compelled to reproduce with their siblings, thus increasing the likelihood of recessive genes and decline in the health of the population. It would be a better outcome if there was more variation in the mix.

  6. In my experiment, I am trying to construct an equation that combines the practice of bone marrow transplantation and selecting those with genes for hyperovulation all whilst being a member of a royal family to win this game.

    But I just keep coming back to raping and pillaging.

    Mike

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