Monday, May 16, 2016

Synthetic Human Design (part 1)

Nearly 150 scientists recently convened at Harvard in secret to discuss plans for the creation of a synthetic human. The few that attended this secret meeting were instructed not to contact the media or to tweet on the internet. The stated goal of the meeting was to "synthesize a complete human genome in a cell line within a period of 10 years." The prospect of chemically constructing a human being, essentially bringing a person into the world without biological parents, raises a number of questions, both ethical and practical. Harvard genetics professor George Church, one of the organizers of the meeting, has indicated that the proposed project is not intended for the creation of people but just cells, and he stated that it would not be restricted to the human genome. However, Stanford's Drew Endy (bioengineering) and Northwestern's Laurie Zoloth (medical ethics and humanities) raised questions in an essay published shortly after the meeting—have these scientists gone too far? “Would it be OK, for example, to sequence and then synthesize Einstein’s genome? If so how many Einstein genomes should be made and installed in cells, and who would get to make them? Taking a step back, just because something becomes possible, how should we approach determining if it is ethical to pursue?”

No comments:

Post a Comment