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Interesting article in the New York Times about biologist J. Craig Venter synthesizing the genome of a species of bacteria; the first time this has been done. Some of us on staff have been talking about doing a show that addresses the ethics of biotechnology, but we’re not sure who would make the best voice. One of the more interesting takes on the subject I’ve read was an essay in the New York Review of Books by one of our previous guests Freeman Dyson. He has a surprisingly optimistic point of view about messing with creation, something that science fiction authors have been warning us against at least since Mary Shelley:

“Domesticated biotechnology, once it gets into the hands of housewives and children, will give us an explosion of diversity of new living creatures, rather than the monoculture crops that the big corporations prefer. New lineages will proliferate to replace those that monoculture farming and deforestation have destroyed. Designing genomes will be a personal thing, a new art form as creative as painting or sculpture.”

Sometimes my wife and I try to imagine what in the world our kids will do to freak us out in the future, considering how open-minded we think we are. Genetically designing a new pet may just do the trick.


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1 Comments

Rob,

The ever-blowing winds of change can be a soft, cool, and comforting breeze; but so too, they bring a maelstrom, violent, unforgiving, and so oft unanticipated. Well advised we would be, to consider the time frame upon which the Universal Intelligence, inherent and presiding within all of space and time, set into operation the Great Universal Laws and Forces upon which evolution herself was founded thirteen-billion, seven-hundred-million years ago. Unintelligible to the human intellect, though measurable and calculable, it is to no avail while we adamantly persist in thought of self within the time frame of the individual personality. The human personality is incapable of accepting the very system of organic integration of life on this one planet, so complex and interactive, it deafens any attempt of man to superimpose his arrogance upon the dynamic. The ecosystem reacts with quite unexpected and dire consequences, of which we are now but beginning to realize. To foist upon the stage of life, introduce into the Matrix Inconcievable, new genetic material simply because we have the technology to create within this realm, is nothing short of pure folly and to suggest a reasoned rationale behind such effort "will give us an explosion of diversity of new living creatures," goes further to elucidate the blanket of ignorance that impales the human condition. There are no mechanisms in place that can be applied to predict the consequences of such blindness. Humanity would be far better served were we to move away from the self-asserted, externalized concept of personal intelligence - recognizing its stupidity - so we may move our attention inward to know the source and true nature of Self. Consciousness Immortal. In that light, may your program serve.