George Church
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

Re: What is the social impact of science?

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Is the tide really rising?

George Church

George Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. In 1984, Church, along with Walter Gilbert, developed the first direct genomic sequencing method and helped initiate the Human Genome Project. Church is responsible for inventing the concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and DNA array synthesizers. Church initiated the Personal Genome Project in 2005 as well as research into synthetic biology. He is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard and MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard, MIT and Washington University. He is a senior editor for Nature EMBO Molecular Systems Biology.

I think a huge fraction of . . . And this is not a political scientist speaking, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. But from my biased viewpoint, a lot of the political problems have to do with the “haves” and the “haves not”. And we have seen many examples of the rising tide floating all the boats where there’s more people in the middle class then there ever was in the past history. So if that trend can continue, then there will be fewer people who feel like they represent an underprivileged class. Now there still are cultural differences that even though two different wealthy people could have major cultural differences of opinion, but perhaps those will be mitigated by having . . . by some embracement of diversity. We’ll just have to see. It certainly will change. The technology will change the way that people interact politically, but it’s very hard to predict exactly that dynamic. Recorded on: 7/6/07