In 2012, biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her team at Berkeley figured out how to rewrite our genetic code using a system called CRISPR. Thanks to this miraculous discovery, we now have the power to hunt down cancer cells, deflect oncoming viruses, and cure genetic diseases. But CRISPR has a dark side, morally speaking. We’ll soon have the power to give our kids superior strength and intelligence. Should we do it?
Doudna’s groundbreaking discovery and the moral dilemmas it has posed are the subject of a new book by best-selling biographer Walter Isaacson. In this expansive conversation, he tells Rufus why the CRISPR era will be far more consequential than the digital revolution. Plus, they discuss the mechanics of creativity, the delicate balance between competition and collaboration, and the personality traits that Isaacson’s subjects — Doudna, da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Einstein, and Steve Jobs — all have in common.
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