The scientific advances made in the last 50 years (since the 1970s) have been at a speed and breadth that few could have imagined. Science has created two of the greatest challenges facing the world today. The first is Artificial Intelligence – the possible development of a human-like artificial ‘brain’. The second is Genetic Engineering – the ability to change the very structure of humans and the food we eat.
Science is pro-active
The question is this, who decides the impact of scientific discoveries? Let us imagine that we all accept that the job of a scientist is to continually research, discover, question, develop, find new options and create change. That is a very pro-active role.
Politics is re-active
Let us imagine also that we all accept that the role of politicians, to date, has been to represent the people, look out for their welfare, behave in the best interest of the locality and their country. We have a problem. That is a very re-active role.
The pace of scientific discovery in the modern world means that we need a different kind of politician. We need politicians to proactively lead the debate about science, ethics, the future of society and culture. This cannot be done on a national level alone. It requires global decision making.
The Genetic Challenge
In his book on The Genetic Age, Matthew Cobb looks at genetic advances. “genetic technology has given us the power to alter the genes of virtually any organism” he writes. Each genetic advance brings us closer to a world in which disease will be eliminated and we will be able to ‘create’ perfectly healthy babies and wholesome food for all.
The Moral Imperative
But with each advance comes a moral imperative to offer guidance to scientists, global guidance, on what we, the inhabitants of the world, would like to see created. We have the power to influence the future and that is a phenomenal power. We should not throw it away lightly.
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