Mixing human + animal DNA and the future of gene editing

"The question is which are okay, which are not okay."

  • As the material that makes all living things what/who we are, DNA is the key to understanding and changing the world. British geneticist Bryan Sykes and Francis Collins (director of the Human Genome Project) explain how, through gene editing, scientists can better treat illnesses, eradicate diseases, and revolutionize personalized medicine.
  • But existing and developing gene editing technologies are not without controversies. A major point of debate deals with the idea that gene editing is overstepping natural and ethical boundaries. Just because they can, does that mean that scientists should be edit DNA?
  • Harvard professor Glenn Cohen introduces another subcategory of gene experiments: mixing human and animal DNA. "The question is which are okay, which are not okay, why can we generate some principles," Cohen says of human-animal chimeras and arguments concerning improving human life versus morality.

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Are lab–grown embryos and human hybrids ethical?

This spring, a U.S. and Chinese team announced that it had successfully grown, for the first time, embryos that included both human and monkey cells.

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In Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel “Brave New World," people aren't born from a mother's womb. Instead, embryos are grown in artificial wombs until they are brought into the world, a process called ectogenesis.
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Moral enhancement explained: Can science make us better people?

Could a pill make you more moral? Should you take it if it could?

  • Moral enhancement is the idea that technology can be used to make us more moral people.
  • Proponents argue that we need to be better people in order to solve global problems.
  • Ideas on how to use this ethically abound, but no solid consensus exists yet.
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‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
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Five weird thought experiments to break your brain

Thought expriments are great tools, but do they always do what we want them to?

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  • Thought experiments are quite popular, though some get more time in the sun than others.
  • While they are supposed to help guide our intuition to help solve difficult problems, some are a bit removed from reality.
  • Can we trust the intuitions we have about problems set in sci-fi worlds or that postulate impossible monsters?
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