Nearly a decade after the human genome was decoded, scientists are only now beginning to understand its implications. One of the leading thinkers in this field is the biotech entrepreneur Gregory Stock. A biophysicist by training, his 2002 book Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future makes the case that full-scale genetic engineering is on the way – whether we like it or not.
And, Stock believes, if the US doesn't lead the way in developing those advances, other nations will. "Between a third and two-thirds of the population – and even higher if you look at China or Thailand and other eastern cultures – of parents say if they could enhance the genetics of their children, enhance their either cognitive or physical capabilities, they would absolutely do it."
But engineering traits to "improve" people remains a thorny issue. "It sounds so compelling, 'take out a little bit of this, that, it's going to be the best of you,'" Stock says, "but actually we don't have a clue what creates exceptional capabilities."
While Stock's attitude is full-speed ahead, he admits, "it's going to get weird."
If you could tweak your genome at will, what would be first on your to-do list? Increase lung capacity? Improve your vision, or your memory? Tell us in a comment below.
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