To the Editor

Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the September 8, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

Some speakers, when we seek to interview them before their talks, are

nervous that an article could diminish the firepower of their speech.

It rarely does. For instance, on August 25 we had Chris Mario’s

fascinating 3,000 word story on Gregory Stock, and Stock’s provocative

speech on September 2 duplicated nothing.

Stock, the CEO of Signum Biosciences and the keynote for the U.S. 1

Technology Showcase and the Princeton Chamber Trade Show, spoke to a

sold-out chamber luncheon plus more than 60 U.S. 1 readers who crowded

into the Westin’s dining room.

We are living in the most exciting of times, said Stock, because we

are in the middle of two revolutions – the silicon/artificial

intelligence revolution and the genomic revolution that will help

change our offspring’s genes. Most people are drawn to the latter: "We

are human. We want to use technology in ways that we think will

improve our lives."

Look no further than page 10 of this issue for an illustration. An

infertility doctor can do genetic tests on an eight-cell embryo in a

petri dish. Right now the testing is limited to whether the future

child will be healthy, but soon, Stock says, parents will be able to

choose physical, emotional, and intellectual characteristics.

Princeton is a hotbed for the genomic revolution, and we get to watch

it, says Stock. "We are the architects of the revolution. What’s so

different is that we are also the objects of these changes."

Stock took a straw poll, based on the premise that parents could

choose one of eight embryos with different personality traits. How

many people would want to choose? Half the room voted to choose, 30

percent voted for random selection, and 20 percent stayed on the

fence.

This was a surprise to Stock. Ivy League communities, in his

experience, generally vote for random selection by an overwhelming 80

percent, whereas in one predominantly Roman Catholic working class

community, 80 percent said they wanted to choose. (Stock attributes

the Ivy League vote to political correctness, but it could also

demonstrate their confidence in their own genes.)

"Direct genetic intervention is in sight," said Stock. "Public policy

makers are saying ‘Let’s slow it down,’ but they are dreaming. The

question is, whether we have courage to face the possibilities of the

future, or whether we will turn the technology over to younger,

braver, regions of the world."

"What are we afraid of? We are afraid it will actually work and

succeed gloriously. It would force us to face our real fears,

ourselves. It will force us to change our view of who we are."

Top Of Page
To the Editor

Re Richard K. Rein’s column on September 1: I would like to send all

good wishes to Rich’s favorite pair of scissors. As a late night

editorial assistant in the early ’90s, it is from both of them that I

learned to make quick and decisive cuts.

Pat Huizing

Executive Director, Mount Dora Center for the Arts, Florida


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