Saturday, February 11, 2006

Biotechnology for Children?

Freeman Dyson writes about the future of biology in the 21st century. Unfortunately only the first bit of the article can be read without subscription on The New Scientist website.

In the full article, he makes an anology between current public reaction to the biotech industry and the public distrust that the early development of computers created.

"The public distrusts Monstanto because the company likes to put genes for pesticides into food crops, just as we distrusted von Neumann because he liked to use his computer for designing hydrogen bombs secretly at midnight. It is likely that genetic engineering will remain unpopular and controversial so long as it remains a centralised activity in the hands of large corporations".

Then:

"Domesticated biotechnology, once it gets into everyone's hands, will give us an explosion of diversity of new living creatures, rather than the monoculture crops that the big corporations prefer. New lineages will proliferate to replace those that monoculture farming and industrial development have destroyed. Designing genomes will be a personal thing, a new art form as creative as painting or sculpture. Few of the new creations will be masterpieces, but all will bring joy to their creators and variety to our fauna and flora".

And the bit that is relevant to a home education site:

"The final step in the domestication of biotechnology will be biotech games, designed like computer games for children down to kindergarten age, but played with real eggs and seeds
rather than with images on a screen. Playing such games, kids will acquire an intimate feeling for the organisms that they are growing. The winner could be the kids whose seed grows the prickliest cactus, or the kid whose egg hatches the cutest dinosaur. These games will be messy and possibly dangerous. Rules and regulations will be needed to make sure that our kids do no endanger themselves and others."

Overall though, this vision seems rather appealing.

1 comment:

Leo said...

It's likely to happen, but I am not sure if it's appealing.