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.
Bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe argues that the Singularity envisioned by Ray Kurzweil isn't quite right.
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.
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.
Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, Raymond Schinazi Distinguished Research Professor of Jewish Bioethics, Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Neuroscience and Biological Behavior, and Sociology, and the Director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. Dr. Wolpe also serves as the Senior Bioethicist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where he is responsible for formulating policy on bioethical issues and safeguarding research subjects. He is Co-Editor of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB), the premier scholarly journal in bioethics, and Editor-in-Chief of AJOB-Neuroscience, and sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen professional journals in medicine and ethics. Dr Wolpe is a past President of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the country's oldest medical society.Dr. Wolpe is the author of over 125 articles, editorials, and book chapters in sociology, medicine, and bioethics, and has contributed to a variety of encyclopedias on bioethical issues. A futurist interested in social dynamics, Dr. Wolpe's work focuses on the social, religious, ethical, and ideological impact of technology on the human condition. Considered one of the founders of the field of neuroethics, which examines the ethical implications of neuroscience, he also writes about other emerging technologies, such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and prosthetics. His teaching and publications range across multiple fields of bioethics and sociology, including death and dying, genetics and eugenics, sexuality and gender, mental health and illness, alternative medicine, and bioethics in extreme environments such as space. He is the author of the textbook Sexuality and Gender in Society, and edited and is a key author of the end-of-life guide Behoref Hayamim: In the Winter of Life.Dr. Wolpe sits on a number of national and international non-profit organizational boards and working groups, and is a consultant to academic institutions and the biomedical industry. In July, 2010, he testified to the President's Commission on the Study of Bioethical Issues in Washington, DC on ethical issues in synthetic biology. A dynamic and popular speaker internationally, Dr. Wolpe has been chosen by The Teaching Company as a "Superstar Teacher of America" and his courses are distributed internationally on audio and videotape. He has won the World Technology Network Award in Ethics, has been featured in a TED talk, and was profiled in the November, 2011 Atlantic Magazine as a “Brave Thinker of 2011." Dr. Wolpe is a frequent contributor and commentator in both the broadcast and print media, recently featured on 60 Minutes and with a personal profile in the Science Times of the New York Times.