CRISPR-Cas9 and William Gibson

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed. – William Gibson”

A quote I keep coming back to is one by William Gibson, saying that “the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” This came to mind once again when I read the following New York Times piece about the consequences of the potential use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome editing in humans. It builds on an article in Science where the authors urge caution on the use of genome editing in humans before the potential consequences have been thoroughly investigated, and legal as well as ethical frameworks are in place.

What was once considered pure science fiction is now quickly becoming reality and I think that the future portrayed in the film Gattaca is not as far of as we might once have imagined. In my opinion this is just one more example of how we as a society will have to deal with what it means to be human in an age where we will be able to take charge of the actual physical definition of humanity.

I see in this enormous potential, but also equally big risks. I welcome initiatives such as the above to work proactively on these questions and bring them up on the general agenda. Hopefully that means that that these technologies can be used responsibly, and that we might avoid the bleak geno-dystopian future of Gattaca and instead hope for a brighter more Star Trek like future.