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Genetic Crossroads
June 12th, 2000

1. Physicist Freeman Dyson says germline engineering would lead
to new human species

Speaking at a May 16 ceremony in which he was awarded the Templeton
Prize for Progress in Religion, Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson
warned that human germline engineering "could cause a splitting of
humanity into hereditary castes."

In a public address at the Washington National Cathedral, Dyson said,
"Wealthy parents will be able to buy what they consider superior genes
for their babies...Within a few generations, the children of rich and
poor could become separate species."

The Templeton Foundation has supported theologians who advocate
human germline engineering, and programs to educate theologians on
the benefits of "free markets." But Dyson argued that biotechnology
demands government regulation. "No matter how strongly we believe
in the virtues of a free market economy," he said, "the free market
must not extend to human genes."

See "Physicist envisions 'hereditary castes,'" The Washington Times,

2. James Watson endorses scientists "playing God"

At the annual meeting of the British all-party Parliamentary and
Scientific Committee held in mid-May, James Watson argued that there
is nothing intrinsically wrong with the idea of scientists "playing
god" by manipulating the human genome. Watson rejected criticism of
human germline engineering by asking, "[I]n all honesty, if scientists
don't play god, who will?"


3. "Technocalypse" -- Dutch Television on post-human genetics

Dutch TV recently aired a two-part series on genetic engineering called
"Technocalypse." Among those featured were prominent "post-humanists"
including Max More, president of the Extropy Institute (a libertarian
group that promotes human germline enhancement and cryogenics); Ray
Kurzweil, who argues that "non-biological intelligence ultimately will
become dominant" over humans; and Hans Moravec, who believes that
"once the level of computer competence [has] risen beyond the best
human engineers, then there won't be any human engineers there will
be robotic or computer engineers."

A web site with images and lengthy transcripts from the television
shows is at <http://www.omroep.nl/ikon/technocalypse/>.


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