Doing better : the next revolution in ethics

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Moreover, plant biologists, working with a wide variety of crops, have embarked on efforts to delete genes that attract pests. That way, by relying on biology rather than on chemicals, CRISPR could help reduce our dependence on toxic pesticides. No scientific discovery of the past century holds more promise—or raises more troubling ethical questions. The full implications of changes that profound are difficult, if not impossible, to foresee. Dozens of other organisms—including chickens and cattle, mushrooms and wheat, catfish and koi—have been engineered with CRISPR to carry specific genetic traits.

Many more will follow. The first is an enzyme—Cas9—that functions as a cellular scalpel to cut DNA. In nature, bacteria use it to sever and disarm the genetic code of invading viruses. The other consists of an RNA guide that leads the scalpel to the precise nucleotides—the chemical letters of DNA—it has been sent to cut.

When it reaches its destination, the Cas9 enzyme snips out the unwanted DNA sequence. By the time the Zika outbreak in Puerto Rico comes to an end, the U.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, based on patterns of other mosquito-borne illnesses, at least a quarter of the 3. That means thousands of pregnant women are likely to become infected. Currently the only truly effective response to Zika would involve bathing the island in insecticide.

James and others say that editing mosquitoes with CRISPR—and using a gene drive to make those changes permanent—offers a far better approach. Scientists used conventional genetic engineering to add genetic material from two other fish species to create the AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon top , which can reach market size twice as fast as its natural counterpart.

The fish consumes less feed and can be raised in isolation close to cities, reducing transportation costs and emissions, and eliminating any chance of escape into the wild. While the FDA has approved the fish as entirely safe for consumption, doubts over the safety of transgenic foods persist. Gene drives have the power to override the traditional rules of inheritance. Ordinarily the progeny of any sexually reproductive animal receives one copy of a gene from each parent.

Theoretically, scientists could combine CRISPR with a gene drive to alter the genetic code of a species by attaching a desired DNA sequence onto such a favored gene before releasing the animals to mate naturally.

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Together the tools could force almost any genetic trait through a population. Combating the Ae. To fight off dengue, James and his colleagues have designed CRISPR packages that could simply delete a natural gene from the wild parent and replace it with a version that would confer sterility in the offspring. If enough of those mosquitoes were released to mate, in a few generations which typically last just two or three weeks each entire species would carry the engineered version. James is acutely aware that releasing a mutation designed to spread quickly through a wild population could have unanticipated consequences that might not be easy to reverse.

A worker waits to enter a clean room at China Regenerative Medicine International in Shenzhen, where pig corneas are modified for transplant into humans. Much work remains before the technique could be applied to viable human embryos that would pass on genetic changes. It has been more than 40 years since scientists discovered how to cut nucleotides from the genes of one organism and paste them into the genes of another to introduce desired traits.

Molecular biologists were thrilled by the possibilities this practice, referred to as recombinant DNA, opened for their research. From the start, however, scientists also realized that if they could transfer DNA between species, they might inadvertently shift viruses and other pathogens too. That could cause unanticipated diseases, for which there would be no natural protection, treatment, or cure. This possibility frightened no one more than the scientists themselves. The group emerged from the meeting having agreed to a series of safeguards, including levels of laboratory security that escalated along with the potential risks posed by the experiments.

It soon became clear that the protections seemed to work and that the possible benefits were enormous. Genetic engineering began to improve the lives of millions. Diabetics, for example, could count on steady supplies of genetically engineered insulin, made in the lab by placing human insulin genes into bacteria and then growing it in giant vats. Most genes in a species have a one-in-two chance of being inherited by each offspring. But with the advent of CRISPR and a controversial technique called engineered gene drive, scientists are beating those odds in the lab.

An alteration that makes a mosquito resistant to malaria, for example, can be engineered to be inherited by all its offspring. The altered gene provides a template to repair the cut, allowing the wild gene to accept the changed sequence. The altered gene. Yet while genetically engineered medicine has been widely accepted, crops produced in a similar fashion have not, despite scores of studies showing that such products are no more dangerous to eat than any other food.


It gives researchers the ability to redesign specific genes without having to introduce DNA from another species. Each year up to half a million children in the developing world go blind for lack of vitamin A—but anti-GMO activists have interfered with research and prevented any commercial production of the rice.

With CRISPR, scientists could almost certainly achieve the same result simply by altering genes that are already active in rice plants. By deleting all three copies of one wheat gene, Caixia Gao and her team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have created a strain that is resistant to powdery mildew.

2. Some Major Figures’ Views on the Morality of Revolution

Screening embryos for genetic diseases prior to in vitro fertilization frees parents from having to make the agonizing decision of whether to abort an affected fetus or bring into the world a child who may suffer severely. Farmers have been adjusting genes in single species—by crossbreeding them—for thousands of years.

There have been signs that the U. Food and Drug Administration might follow suit, which could make CRISPR-created products more readily available and easily regulated than any other form of genetically modified food or drug. Whether the public will take advantage of them remains to be seen. The technology has already transformed cancer research by making it easier to engineer tumor cells in the laboratory, then test various drugs to see which can stop them from growing.

In the next two years we may see an even more dramatic medical advance. Just as government regulation is trying to keep pace with autonomous vehicles and smart cities, organizations should establish constant touch points to ensure that their ethical policies keep pace with the rapidly changing technology environment. For CEOs and other C-level executives, integrating the ethical considerations of employees across the organization and other stakeholders into their day-to-day operations also makes good financial sense. The organizations that set the tone at the top are the ones that are likely to be best positioned to help their businesses—and society—flourish.

The authors would like to thank Prakriti Singhania for her editorial contributions to this article. Erica Volini et al. View in article. Punit Renjen, Success personified in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Four leadership personas for an era of change and uncertainty , Deloitte Insights, January 19, Innovation, transformation, and leadership occur in many ways. We deliver strategy and implementation, from a business and technology view, to help you lead in the markets where you compete.

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War’s Sci-Fi Future

Ethical technology use in the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been added to your bookmarks. Ethical technology use in the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been removed from your bookmarks. An article titled Ethical technology use in the Fourth Industrial Revolution already exists in the bookmark library. Social login not available on Microsoft Edge browser at this time. Welcome back. Still not a member? Join My Deloitte. Article 6 minute read 15, July, Timothy Murphy United States.

Swati Garg India. Brenna Sniderman United States. Natasha Buckley United States. Methodology This research is an extension of the Success personified in the Fourth Industrial Revolution report, which is based on a survey of 2, global executives and public sector leaders conducted by Forbes Insights in June-August Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank Prakriti Singhania for her editorial contributions to this article. Endnotes Erica Volini et al. View in article Punit Renjen, Success personified in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Four leadership personas for an era of change and uncertainty , Deloitte Insights, January 19, View in article Ibid.

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Revolution (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Topics in this article Industry 4. Governments and businesses recognized the power of computers for performing complex calculations and, eventually, for general-purpose use.

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Rapid progress toward increasing computational power led to a more interconnected and complex world in many ways and is still driving change across sectors and regions at the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, just as the continuing spread of electricity access is still bringing the benefits of the Second industrial Revolution to communities around the world. Like the industrial revolutions before it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings incredible opportunities for individuals, industries, and nations. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and the potential of quantum computing promise the better optimization of systems.

Distributed ledger technologies—for instance, blockchain—are demonstrating utility far beyond the emergence of cryptocurrencies, such as the provision of secure, digital identification, managing fraud and externalities in value chains, and creating greater transparency in government procurement. Both the term and the concept of 4IR are not especially academic in nature. Historians and cultural anthropologists will have the ultimate responsibility for establishing and supporting frameworks for how we regard history and societal development.

The phrase and concept do, however, co-opt the loose history presented above into a cohesive and practically employable mental model and umbrella concept that contextualizes and posits that the current set of transformations have similar attributes to past industrial revolutions. The power of language to name phenomena is to make them comprehensible, and by doing so, to catalyze action.

The data revolution: privacy, politics and predictive policing - The Economist

The concept of 4IR is meant to help individuals and organizations make sense of the interplay between humans and technology at a time when advances in computing power, biotechnologies, artificial. From autonomous vehicles to biologically engineered humans, the new era will bring technical and ethical challenges to sectors, stakeholder groups, and social norms. Therefore, the important work with regard to 4IR is not around defining it further, but rather understanding and shaping its impact.

In so doing, four principles can be brought to bear on discussions that link emerging technologies to international relations:. The first is to focus on systems, rather than technologies. While artificial intelligence and blockchain remain the topics du jour, the important discussion is how to govern these technologies as part of broader systems, not as individual capabilities. The second is to focus on ensuring that emerging technologies truly empower, rather than direct, citizens.

Business models built around the manipulation of behavior at scale are, as Jaron Lanier has pointed out, intrinsically at odds with individual values of liberty and concepts of national sovereignty. The third is to act collectively by design, not by default. We are still at the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which means that the norms, standards, infrastructure, regulations, and business models that will define the future are still emerging.

Such critical decisions about the future of our economies, political systems, and societies must be deliberated and shared by a wide range of responsible stakeholders, including governments, industries, and interest groups.