Stephen Spielberg’s Jurassic Park is easing its way from science-fiction into actual science according to Carl Zimmer of National Geographic. When I was writing parts of their film documentaries I got a chance to see his colleagues in serious action with regard to something they took very seriously: De-Extinction.
While some people are fascinated with our future, these folks were obsessed with our past. Ways in which DNA and genetic materials from extinct species might be harvested in order to re-
constitute them. When asked the usual, “Aren’t you playing God?” they answered, “We already did when we killed these species off!”
Along with dinosaurs, mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, there has even been whispered conversations about de-extincting the Neanderthals. How’s that grab you….? Personally I can think of only two answers: That’s what humanity does, whatever we can! OR. That’s not given to humanity to do, because we didn’t create them in the first place!
But if you think researchers will pause long over this choice, think again. The more we can imagine re-constituting extinct life, the more we will want to. Need to. Think of it this way. It’s the difference between Mark Zuckerberg and the Dalai Lama.
Here’s how I’d describe the difference. Going into a bar together, Zuckerberg would probably give everyone in there a free smartphone. The Dalai Lama would probably give everyone in there a free hug. One you could re-sell; the other you wouldn’t want to….
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