I think it’s – I’m a believer in the precautionary principle as I’ve just said,
and I think we have to worry about possible consequences of things that we do,
and the ability to edit our own genomes is one thing we ought to worry about.
I’m not sure it’s so much an ethical problem as a more practical problem.
What would the consequences be?
Would the consequences be bad?
And they might be.
I think it’s worth noticing that long before CRISPR long before it became capable of editing our genomes.
In anyway we have been editing the genomes of domestic animals and plants by artificial selection,
not artificial mutation, which is what we’re now talking about,
but artificial selection.
When you think that a Pekingese is a wolf, a modified wolf, a genetically modified wolf
modified not by directly manipulating genes
but by choosing for breeding individuals who have certain characteristics,
比如 短小粗壮的鼻子等等 然后再将一头狼变成的北京哈巴狗
for example small snub-nosed etc and making a wolf turn into a Pekingese.
And we’ve been doing that very successfully with domestic animals like dogs, cows,
domestic plants like maize for a long time, we’ve never done that to humans or hardly at all.
Hitler tried it but it’s never really been properly done with humans I’m glad to say.
So if we’ve never done that with humans with the easy way, which is artificial selection,
it’s not obvious why we would suddenly start doing it the difficult way,
which is by direct genetic manipulation.
There doesn’t seem to be any great eagerness to do it over the last few centuries anyway.
A lot of people have problems with what they call designer babies.
You could imagine a future scenario in which people go to a doctor
and say, “Doctor, we want our baby to be a musical genius.
Please edit the genes so that we have the same genes as the Bach family had
or something like that to make them into a musical genius.”
I mean that horrifies many people.
It’s got totally obvious why that’s anymore horrifying than parents
who are ambitious for the musical future of their child
forcing the child to practice the piano three hours a day.
There are differences, of course, forcing it to practice is maybe unpleasant for the child
but it doesn’t go into the next generation,
changing the genes does so there is a difference there.
But at least people who shudder with horror at a designer baby who’s a musical genius,
people who shudder with horror at that, why don’t you shudder with horror at forcing a child
to have music lessons when it doesn’t want to or practice music
when it doesn’t want to?
I think although there is an analogy between technological evolution and biological evolution,
it’s dangerous to push that analogy too far.
I’ve just been decrying the view that everybody is an expert.
And I’m not an expert in technology
and I think that every scientist needs to admit when they don’t know.
有一个类比 事情都是逐渐在发生改变的 飞机的发展
The analogy is there, things change gradually, the evolution of the airplane starting from
the Wright brothers in the beginning of the 20th century until the present,
it’s been spectacularly fast but it is gradual evolution
and it looks, to some extent, like biological evolution.
But whether it occurs by natural selection that’s open to argument.
You could say that it does occur by a form of natural selection,
but it’s not the same kind of natural selection.
So I don’t regard myself as a biological evolutionist
as qualified to talk about technological evolution.
I’m interested in the analogy
but I think it only is an analogy and it doesn’t go too far.