[ExI] Freeman Dyson on "Our Biotech Future"

Michael M. Butler mmbutler at gmail.com
Sun Jul 1 01:53:10 UTC 2007


Read the whole thing.



I predict that the domestication of biotechnology will dominate our
lives during the next fifty years at least as much as the
domestication of computers has dominated our lives during the previous
fifty years.

....It is likely that genetic engineering will remain unpopular and
controversial so long as it remains a centralized activity in the
hands of large corporations.

I see a bright future for the biotechnology industry when it follows
the path of the computer industry, the path that von Neumann failed to
foresee, becoming small and domesticated rather than big and
centralized. The first step in this direction was already taken
recently, when genetically modified tropical fish with new and
brilliant colors appeared in pet stores. For biotechnology to become
domesticated, the next step is to become user-friendly....

Every orchid or rose or lizard or snake is the work of a dedicated and
skilled breeder. There are thousands of people, amateurs and
professionals, who devote their lives to this business. Now imagine
what will happen when the tools of genetic engineering become
accessible to these people. There will be do-it-yourself kits....

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.

Few of the new creations will be masterpieces, but a great many will
bring joy to their creators and variety to our fauna and flora....

....Rules and regulations will be needed to make sure that our kids do
not endanger themselves and others. The dangers of biotechnology are
real and serious.

If domestication of biotechnology is the wave of the future, five
important questions need to be answered. First, can it be stopped?
Second, ought it to be stopped? Third, if stopping it is either
impossible or undesirable, what are the appropriate limits that our
society must impose on it? Fourth, how should the limits be decided?
Fifth, how should the limits be enforced, nationally and
internationally? I do not attempt to answer these questions here. I
leave it to our children and grandchildren to supply the answers.


      Michael M. Butler  :  m m b u t l e r  ( a t )  g m a i l . c o m

'Piss off, you son of a bitch. Everything above where that plane hit
 is going to collapse, and it's going to take the whole building with it.
 I'm getting my people the fuck out of here."
   -- Rick Rescorla (R.I.P.), cell phone call, 9/11/2001

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