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As the material that makes all living things what/who we are, DNA is the key to understanding and changing the world. British geneticist Bryan Sykes and Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, explain how, through gene editing, scientists can better treat illnesses, eradicate diseases, and revolutionize personalized medicine.
But existing and developing gene editing technologies are not without controversies. A major point of debate deals with the idea that gene editing is overstepping natural and ethical boundaries. Just because they can, does that mean that scientists should edit DNA?
Harvard professor Glenn Cohen introduces another subcategory of gene experiments: mixing human and animal DNA. "The question is which are okay, which are not okay, why can we generate some principles," Cohen says of human-animal chimeras and arguments concerning improving human life versus morality.
What I've enjoyed about genetics is looking to see what it tells us about where we've come from because those pieces of DNA, they came from somewhere. They weren't just sort of plucked out of the air. They came from ancestors. And it's a very good way of finding out about your ancestors, not only who they are, but just imagining their lives. You're made up of DNA from thousands and millions of ancestors who've lived in the past, most of them now dead, but they've survived, they've got through, they've passed their DNA onto their children, and it's come down to you. It doesn't matter who you are. You could be the President. You could be the Prime Minister. You could be the head of a big corporation. You could be a taxi driver. You could be someone who lives on the street. But the same is true of everybody. I can see a time, long after I've gone but when, in fact, everyone will know their relationship to everybody else. It is possible, if anybody wants to do it or can afford it, you could actually, I think, draw the family tree of the entire world by linking up the segments of DNA. So you could find out in what way everyone was related to everybody else.
No doubt, most of the funding for the advances in genetics, for example, the complete sequencing of the human genome, has come from ambition to learn more about health issues. The technology for exploring that, which is making leaps and bounds, has come through the healthcare benefits. Those are the two main things that people are learning about themselves and who they're related to, where they've come from. And that does, and I know from experience, that does add a lot to people's sense of identity. It's not for everybody, not everyone's very interested in it, but a lot of people are and I think that's a very good thing.
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Kommentar: Wenn so etwas propagandiert wird ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSO8kPwFffg ) , dann wird für mich bereits der Weg in weitere jetzt moderne Versklavung von Mensch, Tier und allem was lebt, bereits beschritten. Thomas Bauer
bigthink.com, 08 June, 2021, Jonny Thomson
When does a healthy desire for wealth morph into greed? And how can we stop i
It's common wisdom that most things in life are best in moderation.
Most of us agree that owning property is okay but are hard-pressed to say why and when it has gone too far.
Greed dominates your life if the pursuit of wealth is a higher priority than charity, kindness, and solidarity with others.
The great Greek poet, Hesiod, wrote, "Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things." It's a wisdom that finds support across all ages, stages, and aspects of life. Drinking water is a good thing, but drinking too much is dangerous. A shot of vodka won't kill you, but a gallon probably will. Working hard is good, but burning yourself out is not. Being nice is great, but a sycophant is creepy. Moderation in all things.
But, it's not always easy to determine where that line falls, and a great example of this concerns property and wealth.
Most of us agree that owning things, or at least having the right to own things, is good. It's okay to buy a phone, to own a car, or to have your own clothes. But equally true is that most people feel uneasy about a world which has both billionaires in vast mansions as well as children dying malnourished. Greed, avarice, envy, and venality are considered vices. To be obsessively driven for material things is still, in the main, considered to be either misguided or, at its worst, utterly immoral. So, when does wealth become greed?
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when humans first called a thing "mine," but the philosophy and law of property is much easier to track. One of the biggest names to consider the issue was the 17th century English philosopher John Locke.
Locke's political philosophy is famously cited as a major influence on the U.S. Declaration of Independence but also fed heavily into the French Revolution and the Great Reform movements of Britain. His work on property is perhaps one of his most important contributions.
Although subject to a fair bit of debate — what isn't in philosophy? — it's generally accepted that Locke adopted a "fair usage" view of property. He argued that one can hold any property that meets the following criteria:
- It can be used before it spoils (e.g., we don't have huge stores of food that just rots). It leaves "good and enough" for everyone else (e.g., one person cannot own all the land in a country). The property must come from your own work and effort or what he calls "mixing your labor" with that thing (e.g., if you farm a field, the field and its produce become yours).
If we were to follow these rules, it seems hard to envisage a world of greed and inequality. Everyone can have and get what they want, so long as enough is left for everyone else to get what they want, as well.
But, there's a lot of ambiguity in these rules, and money rather changes things. Money, especially modern money in the form of digital numbers on a screen, does not spoil. And, thanks to modern banking, there is no limit to the amount of money there could be — a bank can, and does, literally create money each time they give you a credit card or a loan (although, in practice, few countries allow this and place limits on money creation). So, no matter how many billions someone creates, there will always be "good and enough" money for others, too.
(Of course, in practice, constantly creating huge new pools of money will lead to hyperinflation, devaluing the money for everyone. Yet, even if we were to ban all new money creation today, a Lockean could argue that there's more than enough already for a generous distribution around the world.)
So, money changes things for Locke's account. It won't spoil and there will always be at least some money for everyone else. It's even been argued that Locke, far from advocating an equal and distributive philosophy, can easily support rampant capitalist accumulation of wealth. Locke wrote that, because of money, "Now one man could have… a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth… and fairly possess more land than he himself can use."
It's the philosophy of greed.
Too much greed
The idea that greed is an essential part of being human (or at least an animal) goes back at least to Plato and has a rich philosophical history from there. Today, it often takes the form of evolutionary psychology or genetics, exemplified by Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene.
It's when we think of little else than increasing our experiences and material possessions. This is the point at which greed has come to dominate your life.
One thinker who has challenged this is Peter Singer. Singer acknowledges the fact that evolution does work on a certain competitiveness, that is, the fittest will pass on their genes. But he also believes that it's wrong to associate this wholly with greed or selfishness. Cooperation and productive relationships are just as vital to survival.
Singer argues that the desire to do good, to work hard, and to succeed are admirable parts of the human condition, but when they are taken to excess, they turn into greed. That line comes when the want of more — particularly, the desire for material wealth — becomes the sole focus of a life. It's when working late or constantly looking for that promotion is prioritized over family, friends, and common human compassion.
The fact is that, in the West, most people have enough. Even poor people generally have TVs, smartphones, and automobiles. The average person in the West lives far better than royalty did for millennia. Singer asks us to get a sense of perspective. We spend more on bottled water than some families in developing countries live off for a day. We're so fixated on our current day-to-day condition, that we lose sight of how much we really have.
Greed über alles
Singer's argument helps us identify the point at which drive and success insidiously morph into greed: It's when we are loath to spend our money and devote all of our waking lives to determinedly accumulating more and more at the expense of our relationships. It's when we think of little else than increasing our experiences and material possessions. This is the point at which greed has come to dominate your life.
But it's also when greed replaces our common sense of compassion. It's when property and wealth become virtues greater than charity, kindness, and solidarity with others. It's when dollar signs and fast cars matter more than people dying in the street. It's when getting a pay raise matters more than someone else getting fired.
Nobody likes to think of themselves as greedy, but if you examine yourself closely, you will probably find some aspects of your life that are at least tainted by greed. We should all check ourselves from time to time.