Who Are We Becoming?

Charles Mueller

Humanity is a species that evolves. The foods we eat, the emotions we feel, and the choices we make all shape our DNA in the ways that make us who we are. The stories we tell, the history we remember, and the beliefs we share give structure to our society and have made our cultures what they are. We have always been in charge of who we become, but being in charge is not the same as being in control. In the last century, science & technology have developed so rapidly that we find ourselves at an interesting point in our evolution. We are not just in charge of who we become; today, we are in control. So…

Who are we becoming?

On June 16th, the Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a hearing to discuss the science and ethics of genetically engineered Human DNA. The hearing dealt with the policy implications of new genetic engineering technologies, like CRISPR/Cas9. The reason for having such a meeting is obvious. This technology makes it so almost anyone can alter the human genome with extreme precision. History tells us that if you make a technology this awesome available to people they will use it for reasons the world may not be comfortable with. Scientists in China have already started to tamper with human embryos. This is causing the narrative in the news to focus on the wrong question. The cat is already out of the bag. It is no longer about if we should use it or not. It is happening. It will continue to happen. We need to be talking about how to manage technologies like this and use it to help us become who we want to be. But…

Who should we become?

Societies evolve in two ways. They evolve genetically and culturally. Nature has always had the final say in who we actually become until now. America is about freedom and now we have the tools to create a new type of freedom, a freedom from nature’s rule. This is an awesome power and with awesome power comes great responsibility. We need to be sure we know how to ride this bike before we remove the training wheels. The big data revolution is making it so that we can understand ourselves on the genetic and cultural levels like never before possible. We can use this information ignorantly or we can use it wisely. If we want the best out of this opportunity, we need a strategic plan about who we should become. We need policies that incentivize the necessary science and engineering projects that will help create the vision of humanity we want to see. Let’s create a world where nobody is born with diseases like cystic fibrosis, where cultures understand each other, and where the human potential is finally set free. Let’s decide…

Who we should become.

The next President of the United States of America is going to shape the evolution of humanity more than any President that has ever come before. We need to be demanding that our policymakers campaign on these issues and run on platforms that address the future of humanity. This means we need to be educating ourselves about these issues. We need to have these conversations at dinner with our friends and our families. The only way the bad things can happen is if we don’t unite our voice. Science and technology have given us the keys to evolution. Before we take it for a drive, let’s plan out our road trip and make sure we know how we are going to get to our next destination. Let’s start the conversation, educate ourselves, elect leaders who care, and really take control of our evolution. We control who we are becoming, so let’s start acting like it. Let’s…

Become who we want to be.

Spring Buzz

Kathy Goodson

It’s springtime in DC, which means a time for new beginnings. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the presidential candidates are beginning to unveil themselves. It’s a perfect time to talk about science communication. Public perception of science has been hit hard lately with recent episodes of misinformation, peer-review gangs, and overall confusion. With the fresh-faced candidates on the scene, we should hope to see new mediums to revitalize the presentation of how science affects society. Every facet of our life is permeated by science and I’m excited to see their takes on how science affects the world. What stance are they taking? How does that play into the bigger picture? What will that mean for the future of the United States?

As each candidate starts to release their platforms, we should evaluate what they are communicating, how they are communicating, and to whom they are communicating. In our modern world, political figures communicate science through the foothold of political context. We should expect our leaders to practice informed decision-making. Science communication at its best is a full conversation, which is both informative and educational. The more the public knows about science, the better we can understand how, why, and what policy decisions are being made.

As we fortify our country with new technologies, preserve our environment, and make literal leaps into deep space we all have a right to be a part of the conversation. Science communication is a science in of itself. It’s a necessary tool for successful communication between scientists and non-scientists alike. I hope our future leaders will help us to be a part of this conversation. In addition, since political leaders can shape this conversation, we should challenge them to use science communication to raise our standard of science public literacy.

This spring, we have the opportunity for a new beginning, a new President, a new type of leader that is not reactionary but rather bases decisions on a strategic plan for our future. Science communication is important and I can’t wait to start having this discussion with our new leaders.