What Keeps a Bioethicist Up at Night?

I worry about what it's going to mean as we begin to micromanage the genetics of our children. 

I think it’s very clear that your grandchildren, maybe your children, maybe even you, are going to reproduce differently than your grandparents did.  That is, the whole process of how we design and execute future generations – execute in the sense of create, is changing.  And we’re going to have the power to actually manipulate the genetics of our offspring in a couple of generations, maybe next generation, maybe sooner than anyone suspects. 

Keep reading Show less
Technology & Innovation

Bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe argues that the Singularity envisioned by Ray Kurzweil isn't quite right.

The Singularity is an Overly Simplistic Idea

As we learn about things more deeply and more deeply, we will discover that in fact, there’s all kinds of peripheral work to be done that we couldn’t have even imagined looking forward. 

Ray Kurzweil has argued that we’re on our way to a singularity, that is that if you look at the change and the interaction of scientific fields over the course of the last century or so and you project it forward, what you see is not a linear progression, but an exponential progression. That means that as things change they’re going to change more rapidly so that the curve will mean that over a very short period of time we will make giant leaps in scientific sophistication.  

Keep reading Show less

The Great Symbolic Euthanasia Compromise

We often want something to be illegal that we don’t actually want punished in a lot of circumstances. 

Euthanasia is an ancient question.  You can read about it in ancient texts.  The Hippocratic Oath says that a doctor should not help a patient to die, even if they want to do it.  The Rabbi’s discuss whether it’s okay for people to allow other people to die on the battlefield in Jewish texts.  So it’s an old question, the question of how to die and whether to die or at any particular time.  

Keep reading Show less