In the book “Short answers to big questions” of Stephen Hawking, which opens seven months after the death of a scientist, the assumption is that genetic engineering will probably lead to the creation of a new kind of “superhumans” (superhumans), who will threaten the lives of the rest of humanity. Excerpts from the book, which will be released on October 16, leads The Times.
Stephen Hawking. Photo: National Geographic Channels / theguardian.com
In its latest prediction of Hawking writes that in the future wealthy people will be able to modify their own DNA genome and their children to improve memory, mental abilities, ward off disease, and increase life expectancy.
“I am sure that during this century, people will discover a way to change how the mental capacity and instincts, e.g. aggression, wrote Hawking. — Likely to be enacted laws against genetic engineering on human beings. But some can’t resist the temptation to improve human characteristics .”
This development will worsen the situation “unimproved people,” said the scientist. “When you see supermen, there would be considerable political problems for unimproved people who will not be able to compete with them. Presumably, they either die, or lose all meaning. Instead, they will self-programmable race of people who will be constantly improved,” wrote Hawking.
As noted by the Times, there is a method of modifying a DNA CRISPR invented six years ago. London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital have used gene editing for the treatment of children with an incurable form of leukemia, but scientists doubt that parents will risk the use of such methods for fear of side effects.
A friend of Hawking at Cambridge, the British astrophysicist Martin John Rice, who usually criticizes his ideas, in conversation with Times expressed doubts that such medical intervention will be possible. “There is a sharp distinction between medical intervention to correct something harmful and use the same methods for “improvement”. Most characteristics are determined by the collection of a large number of genes. The modification of the genome is far risky and questionable project,” — said the scientist.