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Gene drives for kids

posted Jun 24, 2015, 8:03 AM by Kevin Esvelt   [ updated Oct 25, 2016, 9:29 AM ]
An explanation courtesy of the Up Goer Five Text Editor and inspired by xkcd:

It would be nice if we could change how some animals and other living things act towards us and towards other living things. We could make sure people don't get sick when they get bitten, make our food grow better by keeping animals from eating it, and help save some kinds of animals that are in trouble.

We know how to change one animal at a time, but it's hard to change all the animals of that same kind. That's because most of our changes make it harder for the animals to have children, so over time fewer and fewer animals will have the change.

We thought of a new way to change an animal so that all of its children will have that same change. This could let us change a small number of animals and let them go outside, where their children will have the change, and their children will have the change, and so on. After this has happened enough times, we will have changed all the animals of that kind.

Now we need to make sure it works and start getting people together to decide whether, when, and how to change different kinds of living things in order to make the world a better place.

Tags: education, transparency, responsibility, innovation