Nautilus

Human Exceptionalism Stifles Progress

Last November Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced the birth of twin babies whose germline he claimed to have altered to reduce their susceptibility to contracting HIV. The news of embryo editing and gene-edited babies prompted immediate condemnation both within and beyond the scientific community. An ABC News headline asked: “Genetically edited babies—scientific advancement or playing God?”

The answer may be “both.” He’s application of gene-editing technology to human embryos flouted norms of scientific transparency and oversight, but even less controversial scientific developments sometimes provoke the reaction that humans are overstepping their appropriate sphere of influence. The arrival of the first IVF baby in 1978, for example, was denounced as playing God with human reproduction1; more than 8 million “IVF-babies” have been born since.2 As we face a global climate crisis, an article at Religion News Service questions whether proposed climate fixes based on geoengineering are playing God with the climate system.3 For many, the idea that mere humans can or should interfere in lofty natural or human domains, whether it’s the earth’s climate or human reproduction, is morally repugnant.

Where does this aversion to

Vous lisez un aperçu, inscrivez-vous pour en lire plus.

Plus de Nautilus

Nautilus8 min de lectureIntelligence (AI) & Semantics
Do You Want AI to Be Conscious?: Consciousness is an important function for us. Why not for our machines?
People often ask me whether human-level artificial intelligence will eventually become conscious. My response is: Do you want it to be conscious? I think it is largely up to us whether our machines will wake up. That may sound presumptuous. The mecha
Nautilus7 min de lectureEnvironmental Science
If Only 19th-Century America Had Listened to a Woman Scientist: Where might the US be if it heeded her discovery of global warming’s source?
Human-induced climate change may seem a purely modern phenomenon. Even in ancient Greece, however, people understood that human activities can change climate. Later the early United States was a lab for observing this as its settlers altered nature.
Nautilus5 min de lectureTechnology & Engineering
My 3 Greatest Revelations: The author on writing his new book, “The Ascent of Information.”
1  The “Dataome” Is Huge The dataome is shorthand to describe all of the externalized information we generate in symbolic representations: drawings, music, books, computing, data storage. It’s all of the information we utilize and propagate, along wi