As we all know, TED likes to talk.
The organization that is devoted to spreading ideas associated with a multitude of subject areas -- not to mention inspiring your friends to clutter your Facebook feed with entreaties to "Watch this!" -- has curated a sort of "Best of" List for 2015, called The Year in Ideas.
Among the segments are five that deal with cutting edge research and advancements in medicine and biology. All of them are fascinating, and the presentation on a new technology allowing for the reprogramming of DNA, which Science magazine named its Breakthrough of the Year, includes its co-inventor issuing this warning:
Imagine that we could try to engineer humans that have enhanced properties, such as stronger bones, or less susceptibility to cardiovascular disease or even to have properties that we would consider maybe to be desirable, like a different eye color or to be taller, things like that. "Designer humans," if you will. Right now, the genetic information to understand what types of genes would give rise to these traits is mostly not known. But it's important to know that the CRISPR technology gives us a tool to make such changes,once that knowledge becomes available.
This raises a number of ethical questions that we have to carefully consider, and this is why I and my colleagues have called for a global pause in any clinical application of the CRISPR technology in human embryos, to give us time to really consider all of the various implications of doing so. (Transcript and Future of You story)
When some of us were kids -- or even a few years ago -- that was the stuff of science fiction. As would have been the presentation called "How to control someone else's arm with your brain." That's not a clickbait headline -- in the video, you'll see a man involuntarily flex his arm when the woman he is connected to through an interface does the same. Neuroscientist Greg Gage explains this is done by copying and transmitting the woman's brain signal. All we can say is the implications for relations between the sexes are too great to ponder. As Gage tells his male volunteeer, "She will take away your free will and you will no longer have any control over this hand."