Genetic engineering: not just viruses.


here’s no question that genetic engineering has a lot of moral and ethical controversy. But genetic engineers come from every background, for any number of reasons. We at GetReal don’t advise one way or the other on what you should do as a genetic engineer, but we think that a clone army sounds an awful lot like something you’d see in Star Wars. Which is equally impressive and scary. We don’t need supervillians, do we?

Still, it’s interesting to think that the next generation may be a new species, or may be on the verge of becoming that new species—or may already be that new species. And if Homo evolutis is what we’re to become, then we think you should be the one to help make it happen. We know you have the potential.  Give this interesting TED talk a watch:

What he basically says is that we’re becoming a new species: Homo evolutis,
a species which can consciously control evolution, both of itself
and of other things.

As a researcher on genetic engineering, you would have to face some moral decisions like this: is it right to alter someone’s genes to make them more resistant to disease? That might sound obvious, but as a genetic engineer, you have to think of the big picture. Does the human race, which already faces a population crisis, need more people living? Is it wrong to let those same people die of a disease which you could have saved them from? If you become a genetic engineer, you can do work to help answer these tough moral questions, and ultimately help the human race. And that’s what engineering is always about. We talked about genetic engineering of viruses, recently, and we think it’s pretty relevant.

For example: cancer is something which affects all of us, in some way. Unfortunately, it’s a disease which touches almost all of our lives at one point. If you want to help the human race fight cancer at its source, rather than treating it with chemicals and radiation, becoming a genetic engineer may be a good choice. You will be able to learn more about what causes it, and perhaps find ways to make us more stable and resistant to the harmful carcinogens which cause cancer.

So where would you start? Well pay attention to your biology classes in school, because that’s the foundation for a genetic engineer. But if you want to get a head start on actual human genetics, we think Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters is a good place to start reading. This book is interesting, and though it doesn’t have many pictures it’s really informative. You can also watch one of Juan Enqriquez’s other TED talks, about how genetic engineering will save the economy. Skip to 9:50 to get straight to the good stuff.