Week 6_have we gone too far trying to play God? by Cheng-Kuang Liu

Biotechnology is a familiar yet distant topic. It has been around for a long time and it has always been a hot topic of debate, but it still seems like something so out there that it has hardly any direct impact to my life, other than genetically modified foods. The article “Leonardo’s choice” by Gigliotti helped enlighten me. In opening, she states that artists who chose to work with biology and genetic technologies aim to critique the consequences of what human can potentially do with genetic technology. Also, these artists aim to create art work using these new technologies. I find the former of the two purposes intriguing. Indeed, what humans are capable of doing now with living organisms is stunning, even though in a sense the technology is still quite primitive compared to what nature can do. Dolly the cloned sheep, for example, was a shining landmark or human’s achievement in genetic technology. On the other hand, Dolly’s premature death also shows human’s inadequacy in this field.

More and more we are digging into the depths of the mystery of life. I am taking a Life Science class which concerns mostly genetics. The details of the genetic mechanisms on the molecular level are absolutely breathtaking. It is amazing how much we have discovered. It is infinitely more amazing how much there is yet to be discovered. Any human effort to reproduce these mechanisms is humbled before such masterful design. Nevertheless, human tried and tried, and that effort is admirable, but our effort to play “God” has been thus far unsuccessful. Indeed, human is the highest form of life on earth, but have we gone too far with this role? Gigliotti discussed whether we have the right to manipulate other “lower” life forms at will. Kac took a step to make a statement. His calling the GFP bunny created much controversy. I think that the art here lies not necessarily in the bunny itself, but in Kac’s audacious statement. Now in our society, artists can get away with doing crazy things more than scientists could, so artists must assume the responsibility to bring some of these issues to the attention of the public. Kac took a good stab at it. I am not here to sentence such practices to right or wrong. I simply want to acknowledge its impact on society’s view.

Concerning genetics, there are many fantasies in pop culture. I would just like to point out a series of games called “Grow” (http://www.eyezmaze.com/eyezblog_en/blog/2006/06/grow_ver2.html#monster). This series of games involve the interaction of many “living” components and how they affect each others’ development. It is like the condensed story of a mini evolution. There is only one way to have all species grow to the highest level. In a small way, this reflects man’s desire to “play God”—to create and to control other living creatures.

Other examples in pop culture include the abundance of zombie movies and video games (http://www.residentevil.com/). These products reveal a polar opposite side of man’s fantasies concerning genetics. In this case, it is fear. Though on one hand man is curious and is ambitious to control living organisms, on the other hand there is much fear of the consequences.

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