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  • Writer's pictureCecilia Wandiga

Kenya Sustainable Cities - Transformative Technologies in Systems Repair Emerge at the Convergence o

Academia is driven by intergenerational research. Someone will have a hypothesis, spend over 20 years of research experience to develop the hypothesis into a theory, the theory is then pursued by other researchers who continue to examine the idea each for over 20 years and so forth...

Business is driven by immediate returns. Someone will develop a product or service, spend over 20 years of research experience to develop the solid market share (customer base), the product or service is then copied by other companies (competitors) who continue to make money from the product or service each for over 20 years and so forth...

The irony is that both start with the spread of an idea yet follow very different paths. Academia is no magical land, the pressure to be unique and the extremely low remuneration rates create a negative psychology and behaviour that is distinct from business competition but no less damaging. Scandals abound regarding the authenticity and independence of research findings. In business scandals abound regarding fraud and collision.

The government sector is far from scandal free. Mismanagement of public funding, corruption, coercion. The NGO sector has proven to be as scandalous as the government sector of late. It is important to note that correlation and causation are two separate realities. 

One possible conclusion based on observed behaviour is that wrongdoing is inescapable as a required part of growth. This is often misrepresented using Darwin's theory of natural selection as a justification that violence and extinction are inevitable parts of survival. However, Darwin's theory of Natural Selection only postulated that the species most likely to survive are those best suited for the environment in which they live. Example: a polar bear is better suited to survive in the Arctic than in the Sahara Desert because the physiology of the polar bear is better suited for the Arctic. This is the marvel of biodiversity.  

However, the belief that has become popular and wrongly attributed to Darwin is quite different:

"In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment."

Supposedly from Origin of Species , but actually from a 1960s textbook, Civilisation past and present. 

Darwin did not have time to expand the theory to include extensive details about adaptive behaviour. For example, humans are not physically suited to flight and yet we fly across the Earth on a regular basis. 

During Darwin's time we did not have enough accumulated scientific research to reliably explain (explain in a way that others can get the same results) the chemical aspects of dna repair and genetic recombination. Genetic recombination occurs when damage has been done to cells and they alter chemically in order to repair the damage. 

Here is a collaborative Nobel Prize trio from 2015

It’s impossible to escape DNA damage, Lindahl said at the news conference. “We get exposed to DNA-damaging agents all the time.” Fortunately, he added, “all living cells have repair systems.”

If we conceptualize DNA damage as wrong doing that prevents the natural selection of human improvement, we can translate these insights into the non-scientific realm as a mechanism via which to improve our ability to correct the damage from wrong doings. 

Currently, the rational pursuit of growth is not pursued with the intention of exclusion but exclusion becomes the inevitable consequence of the group based pursuit of continuous growth. There has not yet been any rational incentive for groups to work together in order to grow. Such arguments have been derived from emotional / Spiritual realm of human interactions, irrespective of religious dogma. Can we use our spiritual intuition and practice to create rational incentives for inclusive systems that repair damage while continuing to grow? 

There is always a risk of misinterpretation when attempting to extend a very limited scientific discovery to the broader context of daily human existence. Nonetheless, we proceed to create a metaphoric bridge in an attempt to show how the scientific evolution of discovery on Natural Selection still continues and is still relevant to our daily lives. The Natural Selection process we examine is DNA repair and genetic recombination. 

Focusing on chemistry as a series of reactions we can control, instead of focusing on the damage done by the pursuit of continuous growth as an inevitable problem we cannot solve, what would happen if we focused on repairing the social and environmental damage done by the pursuit of continuous growth?

The 2018 Nobel Prize winners each have a different contribution on how to repair damage

We can use their proof on what works in repairing systems and attempt to replicate the conceptual approaches to the same extent we have replicated the production of cars and mobile phones. 

Increased visibility to the damage caused by those who engage in violent behaviour as well as increased accountability for the repair of the damage that is caused can become as ubiquitous as using fuel (of any sort) to improve our livelihoods. 

Let us learn from the biochemistry encoded in our DNA and come up with multiple culturally and industry appropriate ways to practice

base excision repair: A system for repairing damaged DNA. Cytosine (C) in DNA can degrade into uracil (U). This mechanism replaces the Us with Cs and also provides fixes for other types of damage.

Think of cancer as the spread of human wrong doing. Think of cells in a body to represent individual humans in a community. Think of a cell growing and dividing as the spread of beliefs and activities related to the spread of the belief. In healthy behaviour and the continuous pursuit of growth we know

Each time a cell grows and divides, every single gene needs to be faithfully copied to the next generation of cells. This process of DNA replication is constantly threatened by both internal and external sources of DNA damage. There are environmental sources such as radon from the earth or UV light from the sun. Or it can be just a mistake, happening within the cell as a consequence of normal growth and division. Some studies have estimated that a single cell can experience several thousand DNA damage events in a single day.

A cell has been damaged and something is attempting to kill the cell. In the same way humans have learned to fly without any biological wings, can we adapt in defiance of our biological nature? Can we become more accurate at detecting and repairing damage by tracing a specific chain of events?

Following DNA damage, the cell must first recognize the damage and then alert the system that there’s a problem. The recognition machinery then activates various factors to halt cell growth until the damage has been repaired. And if things are too far gone, additional factors are poised and ready to induce cell death.

That’s the most basic way to think about the DNA damage response pathway, as a simple chain of events. Of course it’s a lot more complicated, a complex network of checks and balances to ensure that the DNA damage is not only recognized but clearly identified to ensure that the correct factors are recruited to repair the lesion.

Much like a homeowner wouldn’t want an electrician to fix the leaky roof, a DNA “typo” shouldn’t be fixed by a mechanism used to heal double-strand DNA breaks, for instance. Therefore, sensing which specific genetic lesion is the problem is one of the earliest and most critical steps in the DNA damage response pathway.

Can we preadapt in order to improve and repair life on Earth?

Our findings demonstrated that the ancient HGT of MAG to the ancestor of land plants probably played an important role in preadaptation to DNA-damaging agents in terrestrial environments.

Can we preadapt our legal systems, our political systems, our energy production systems, our business systems, our learning that they anticipate and repair damage immediately before the damage spreads like cancer? 

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