Chapter: Einsteins in the Beach

The concept of Asilomar I and II are incredibly fascinating. Scientists, on their own accord, organized two well-attended meetings to (i) successfully call a temporary halt to gene manipulation in fear of biohazard issues and (ii) conceive a document that delineates the mandatory procedures one must take to engage in gene manipulation.

Today, there are many conversations about ethical implications of scientific process. Rightfully so, many people fear recent technological advances. There are raging debates on artificial intelligence, extinct animal resurrection, and gene editing. It seems that more scientists fail to ask about the implications of their research than those that investigate their implications. This nearsighted behavior is wreckless. At scientific conferences, there may be presentations or sessions regarding ethical scientific practices and methods. However, I have yet to come across a conference organized by scientists to accomplish a similar objective as Berg and his colleagues with Asilomar. That’s a shame.

It frightens me to think that any regulation on scientific progress will be too late and, as a result, unproductively extreme. It may be the case that governments decide to take matters into their own hands and regulate scientific progress because the scientists failed to do so in the past.