Written by Billy Delaney
If you were a god and could create life, what kind of life would you create?
This is no longer just some stoney theoretical question posed in a smoke-filled dorm room; man actually can create artificial life. It appears that within our lifetime we, as a society, will have to make some serious decisions about when and why we choose to do so.
According the May 22, 2010 issue of The Economist, “Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, the two American biologists who unraveled the first DNA sequence of a living organism (a bacterium) in 1995, have made a bacterium that has an artificial genome—creating a living creature with no ancestor.”
It’s true; you read that right. Man can now create artificial life, which over time, once scientists sort out the details, could grow into whatever form we choose. Want a new dog without having to go through the annoying puppy phase? Done. What about 9,000,000 tons of organic food to feed the starving? Coming right up. How about a beautiful young woman in her prime? You got it. Weird Science is now real. More importantly than all of that, it is now within the realm of possibility that we’ll be able to artificially create cells and thus, in one fell scientific swoop, eradicate cancer.
So I ask again, if you were a god, what would you create? We’d all like to think we’d create a lovely little world of peace and love like Golden Gate Park circa summertime 1967, filled with all living creatures merrily prancing together in blissful harmony. But what if one of you wanted to play Satan, the Man in Black from LOST or Adolf and create something evil? There’s almost no doubt some egomaniacal douchebag out there would do exactly that. I can already picture the army of North Korean Orcs straight out of “Lord of the Rings” marching across Asia, ready to take over the world.
The power to grant life is no longer out of our hands (or only in the hands of the fertile). That power could one day come to all of us, and quite frankly, I don’t trust any of you to do right by that power. In the immortal words of Stan Lee via the cherubic Toby Maguire, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Me, I’d buy the cheapest, most barren piece of land I could find on the water somewhere and artificially grow some nice grass, trees and shrubbery, maybe toss in a giraffe or two and some elephants to stroll the grounds, and just chill. I don’t really see the need to create any new people; I’m happy with the family and friends I’ve got.
What would you do? Whatever it is, I don’t believe you. Can you be trusted? Should you be trusted? I’m not sure, but regardless of how this power is used, we may have just stumbled upon the greatest ethical question of our time. This is a story worth following.
[Editor’s note: I would buy the script to Weird Science and do exactly what those guys did. History teaches me nothing. Nothing!]