另一方面，在美国，人们对用技术改造人类基因的做法怀着更矛盾的心情。我在《创世纪密码》里做了这样的设想：假如美国情报机构获知，中国将进行一个秘密的“基因增强计划”，在类似于中国奥林匹克体育学校的地方，培养科学、数学、工程、商业、政治等领域的 “超级婴儿” ，美国人会不会觉得美国将无法与中国竞争？如果中国有这样的计划而美国没有，他们会怎么做？在此我就不过分透露小说的情节了，但我们可以设想，美国人会不会也开始想办法绕开国内的法规，比如设立一家皮包公司，买下美国境内一系列生育诊所，然后悄悄地为前来做试管婴儿的妇女植入拥有加强版基因的胚胎？如果这些人被追杀，一个接一个的死了呢？
注：本文为《基因密码》作者Jamie Metzl提供给财新的新书简介 陆跃玲、王宇倩译
Jamie Metzl 个人官网： http://www.jamiemetzl.com/
From a species-wide perspective, the genetic revolution is probably the most important development of our era. After billions of years of evolution, we now have the tools to for the first time take control of our evolutionary process. But while our capabilities to understand the genome, select specific embryos for implantation, and edit the genomes of future generations already exist, this power is not matched by any type of collective wisdom about how best to optimize the benefits and minimize the risk of these technologies. Even more challenging, different societies have different levels of comfort with this type of activity.
As these technologies progress, it is likely that China and the West will have different ideas on how best to move forward. The Christian tradition traditionally maintains a view of god as a type of watch-maker who constructed the world with a rational plan. This is why critics of human genetic engineering in the West often accuse scientists and other of “playing god.” China’s Confucian tradition, however, sees a larger role for humans in manipulating their surroundings. It is not an accident that China today is a society largely run by engineers.
When I started writing Genesis Code five years ago, I only imagined how advances in genetic engineering might play out differently in China and the United States. If China, I figured, was led by a government willing to engineer its population through the one child policy, engineer its environment on a massive scale through projects like the Three Gorges Dam and the South to North Water Diversion Project, and take children from their parents to train in isolated Olympic sports schools to bring glory to the state, wouldn’t China use a similar approach with regard to genetic engineering? If Chinese people could safely be born with higher IQs due to embryo selection or gene editing, would individual parents or the state not make that choice? Years after I’d begun writing the book, I learned of the Cognitive Genomics Initiative at BGI-Shenzhen, a program designed to figure out the genetic footprint of high intelligence so that future children can be selected as early stage embryos on that basis.
In the United States, on the other hand, people on average have a more conflicted view on this type of activity. In Genesis Code, I imagine what might happen if US intelligence learned that China had a secret genetic enhancement program where superbabies were being bred and then placed in the equivalent of China’s Olympic sports schools, but for science, math, engineering, business, government, etc. If American officials felt that the US wouldn’t be able to compete with China in the future if China had that sort of a program and the US did not, what might they do? I don’t want to spoil the novel for potential readers, but might US officials try to get around the US domestic laws and restrictions by setting up a front company to purchase a chain of fertility clinics in the US an begin secretly impregnating women coming for IVF treatments with genetically enhanced embryos without telling the mothers? And what might happen if these women were being hunted down and murdered one at a time?
I was delighted to learn from a friend that scientists at BGI-Shenzhen were downloading my book. Right now the book is only available in English, but I would love to have a Chinese publisher someday. The genetic revolution is the most important story that is being largely ignored in the media. I really hope that Chinese, Americans, and others can come together to discuss this critical topic and the future of our species.