CRISPR: The next life-changing revolution after computers
December 30, 2015
COMMENTS

Computers changed everything. From keeping abreast with the menial day-to-day tasks of organizing our lives, to processing docs and images to crunching chunky algorithms to gaming to manufacturing to social media – the list is endless, and forever populating.

But computers aren’t everything, and another revolution in the works is now expected to have an equally sweeping, if not devastating, effect on civilization.

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Hyper leaps in genetic editing have brought us a few generations away from the highly anticipated, and as feared as it is welcomed Brave New World Aldous Huxley so vividly forecasted when he put pen to paper in 1932. Back then, monochrome calculators were considered space age gadgets. Technology was based on wood-burning, glorified gas ovens, scotch tape was cutting edge, and long playing phonographs hadn’t even been invented yet.

Things have changed, and all so quickly. The technology known as CRISPR – which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat – has become so accessible that it will soon arm the most basic molecular biologists operating from the comfort of their own private labs in their basements with the tools needed to re-edit human embryos if not experiment with custom-designed animal breeds of their own creations. It doesn’t stop there.

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Playing with the code of our anatomy is risky business and the consequences would be highly disruptive if the technology fell into the wrong hands, be it rogue militias or government militaries. These are the controversies surrounding why stem-cell research does not receive government funding in the US, as an ongoing debate weighing out the pros and the cons continues to be hashed out on an international scale.  

On the upside, and as seen through a more positive mindset, many scientists argue that genetic editing has the propensity to bring out the super in humans with vital benefits such as to reverse diseases, insert positive mutations wherever necessary, and similarly remove harmful ones.


In a word, genetic engineers have gotten so much more precise at the delicate science of tampering with life’s programming code. The DNA-scalpel tool has become more accurate and sharper, giving way for more possibilities of modifications.  

There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes, and the outcome of this breakthrough is endless. But re-imaginging an all-new species in a genetics lab is abusing the law of probability if not altering nature’s course, wouldn’t you think?  

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by Ghassan Khayyat
Ghassan was tuned into the writing world on a transistor radio-wave of an unbeknownst frequency, once upon a daydream dreary. With a firm belief in Dr. Seussims and all things gadget and gizmo-tronic, he tinkers before he speaks, and chooses his words technologically. He is Editor for T3 Middle East’s Levant English publication and English website, and Associated Editor for the GCC English publication. Reach him at ghassan@t3me.com. 
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