“I use ‘disruptive’ in both its good and bad connotations. Disruptive scientific and technological progress is not to me inherently good or inherently evil. But its arc is for us to shape. Technology’s progress is furthermore in my judgment unstoppable. But it is quite incorrect that it unfolds inexorably according to its own internal logic and the laws of nature.”
Gene-editing technology is no longer confined to laboratories and experimentation. CRISPR applications have now been used on adults to treat disease, such as cancer, and just last month, Chinese scientist He Jiankui claimed to have created the world’s first genetically edited babies resistant to HIV. This unprecedented experiment has alerted biotech scientists, policymakers, and ethicists alike — a community deeply focused on the unanswered questions about the safety of embryo editing, as well as the ethical and moral issues.
While the technology may be able to eliminate harmful diseases and pathogens, there are potentially catastrophic risks with changing the human gene pool and pressing issues of equality and justice at stake. With the potential of Pandora’s Box on the horizon, what is the responsible step forward?
Feng Zhang – CRISPR Lead and Core Institute Member, Broad Institute
Jeantine Lunshof – Research Scientist / Ethicist, MIT Media Lab
Jamie Metzl – Author of Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity and Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council
Additional speakers to be confirmed
This event will be hosted by the Harvard Belfer Center’s Technology and Public Purpose (TAPP) Project. Led by Belfer Center Director and former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and on the West Coast by Anja Manuel, Co-Founder and Partner at RiceHadleyGates LLC, the TAPP Project works to ensure that emerging technologies are developed and managed in ways that serve the overall public good.