GENE EDITING and the Future

Gene editing is an old topic in science fiction. In the last decade science has almost caught up with fiction. The next few years will see many more advances. They are likely to be rapid now that the technology for gene editing has become well understood. Want to be prepared for them?

There are two kinds of edits. One affects only individuals, called SOMATIC editing. Vaccines are examples. Another example would be a shot or a pill or an inhaler to change our genes so that our skin color changes. Or our eye color. Or make us more muscular. Or taller.

The second kind of gene edit affects not only us but any children we might have. This is called GERMLINE editing. An example is a treatment which eradicates our genes for some dangerous disease or trait, such as schizophrenia or hemophilia. (Or a treatment to change our skin or eye color or muscles or height.)

As the examples show gene editing can have effects that are good or trivial or bad, as when a treatment is created to cripple or kill. A White supremacist might want to craft a virus to eradicate all Blacks (or a Black might want to eradicate all Whites).

Thus we have six possible uses of gene editing. SOMATIC (good, trivial, bad) and GERMLINE (good, trivial, bad).

What will happen? History shows that all six uses will happen, no matter how hard governments, smaller organizations, or individuals try to control them. The situation is compounded because gene editing is already little more difficult or expensive than hacking computer code. There are millions of computer hackers. Soon there will be millions of gene hackers.

Which will make, for better or worse, for LOTS of science fiction stories.

About Laer Carroll

I am an aerospace software and systems engineer recently retired to become a professional writer. My genres include sci fi and fantasy, young adult, and technical books.
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