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《创世纪密码》简介

从生物多样性的角度来看,基因革命可能是此领域最重要的进展。在数十亿年的进化之后,人类首次掌握了控制进化过程的工具。我们已经有能力理解基因组,并将其植入选定的胚胎,甚至可以编辑我们下一代的基因。但是,如何最大化地从这些技术中获益并将其风险最小化?至今还未有哪一种集体智慧可以回答。更大的挑战是,不同社会对如何运用这种能力的看法并不一致。

 

随着技术进步,中国和西方可能就如何推进有不同的想法。基督教传统认为,上帝是规则制定者,上帝将会按照合理的方法掌控世界。这就是为什么西方社会批评基因工程,并常常指控科学家 “玩弄上帝”的文化背景。而中国的儒家传统则从更大的视角审视人类对环境的改造。这就可以理解,现代中国由工程师主导并非意外。

 

当我五年前开始创作《创世纪密码》时,我只能凭想象去推测基因工程在中国和美国如何以不同的方式演变。我认为,既然中国能够通过国家意志推行“一胎政策”,推行 “三峡大坝”和“南水北调”这样大规模的环境工程,能够让孩子离开父母到封闭的奥林匹克体育学校为国争光,那么是否会采用相似的办法来发展基因工程?如果可以通过胚胎植入或编辑基因的方法,安全地生下高智商的孩子,中国的父母或者政府会考虑一试吗?我开始着手写作此书数年后,我了解到深圳BGI公司的“认知基因组计划”,该计划旨在绘出高智商人群的基因图谱,未来只要对照图谱,就能在胚胎早期筛选孩子。

 

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?

 

有个朋友告诉我,深证BGI公司的科学家们在下这本书看,我很高兴。现在这本书只有英文版,不过我希望能找个公司发行中文版。基因革命是一个被媒体严重忽视了的重要话题。我衷心希望中美两国人民,以及更多其他国家的人民,加入到这个充满争议的话题的讨论中,共同商讨我们人类的未来。

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

相关阅读:

Jamie Metzl 个人官网: http://www.jamiemetzl.com/

《纽约时报》:国际争议中国学者编辑人类胚胎基因

赛先生:【争鸣】人类胚胎基因编辑:伦理还是监管?

附:《创世纪密码》简介原文

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.

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