Saturday, September 23, 2023

Human Nature

Human Nature is a Wonder Collaborative documentary that was picked up by PBS NOVA. And I have questions.

It's the story of CRISPR: the challenges that were insurmountable prior to CRISPR, how CRISPR was discovered, how it's been implemented (so far), and what the future might hold. There are ethical concerns; they are explored. And this production was produced as a feature film. The production values are high, the soundtrack is not always subtle, and emotional punches are not always pulled. It's exceptionally well done.

After the introductory material (Preface), the film is divided into six chapters: Needle in a Haystack, CRISPR, The Gene Machine, Brave New World, Good Genes, and Playing God.

This is a 94-minute film, and I wrote 83 questions to accompany the viewing. That might seem like a lot of questions, but it is not. The questions maintain attention, but do not require reflection or analysis. And the question formats vary to prevent any potential fatigue. 

With an extraordinary new technology called CRISPR, we can now edit DNA—including human DNA. But how far should we go? Gene editing promises to eliminate certain genetic disorders like sickle cell disease. But the applications quickly raise ethical questions. Is it wrong to engineer soldiers to feel no pain, or to resurrect an extinct species? And is there harm in allowing parents to choose their child’s features, like eye color or height? The scientists who pioneered human genome studies and CRISPR grapple with these questions.
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