Code of the wild
5 April 2019 | Written by La redazione
A film that questions the future of genetic editing, observing the present, and on which paths humanity will follow
In November 2018 He Jiankui, a Chinese geneticist, rose to the spotlight for having edited, for the first time in history, the DNA of two twin girls – still in the mother’s womb – through the CRISPR technique to make them immune to HIV. A controversial story at the center of a revolution that could transform the way we grow, the way we live and the way we die.
Genetic engineering will play a very important role in the future of humanity, yet today very few people have the tools to understand the changes taking place and therefore to guide the development of scientific research. For this reason Cody Sheehy, director, and Samira Kiani, Health System Engineer of Arizona State University and an expert in CRISPR genetic editing, started the project “Code of the Wild”: for 18 months they documented the activities of biohacker and scientists working on genetic editing between the United States and China, telling what they saw in a film.
The storytellers. The project was presented during the 2019 edition of the Global Summit of Hello Tomorrow by George Curch, Antonio Regalado and Josiah Zayner, storytellers of the documentary.
George Church, a professor of genetics at the Harvard Medical School talks about his experience in the laboratory and the ongoing research to reverse the aging of dogs. The first tests on humans will begin in two years. In his vision of the future he imagines how genomics will enable humans to sustain a massive population on Earth and on other planets.
Antonio Regalado, senior editor of the MIT Technology Review, defends the remarkable technological achievements in genomic engineering and the implications for the future society.
Josiah Zayner is considered the leader of the Biohacker movement, a controversial figure in the transhumanist community, which promotes the dissemination of DIY genetic engineering knowledge and tools to the public. His story begins with a childhood dominated by the Pentecostal religion, followed by the work as a geneticist for NASA and, finally, the abandonment of mainstream science.
The vision of Code of the Wild. The film’s website reads: “Imagine a future where the BioTech industry uses custom organisms to produce fuel or to eat pollution in our groundwater. Where one country can decide to release a gene drive that will force the extinction of mosquitoes that carry disease. Where all people check to see if their genome is compatible with a partner before having children. Where genetic disease is corrected before birth and cancer is prevented in adults. Where novel animals are created to be sold as pets. What kind of future will we create? Would you enhance the intelligence of your child if everyone else was? Should wealthy people live much longer than everyone else? Can soldiers be genetically modified to protect them from a new era of Bioweapons? How should we draw a line between genetic modifications for health and vanity traits? Or should we draw a line at all?”
These are fundamental questions that should concern everyone and that will shape the future in which we live and for this, it is essential to be involved.