Read: September 2020

Inspiration: What are the important trends in genetic engineering technology and their implications?


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Hacking Darwin”, published in 2019 by author and futurist Jamie Metzl, highlights the ways in which advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering are transforming our understanding of what it means to be human and how we will evolve in the future. He argues that we are on the cusp of a new era in which we will be able to “hack” the process of evolution and fundamentally alter the course of human history. The book is divided into several chapters, each of which looks at a different aspect of biotechnology and its potential impact on society. Some of the topics covered in the book include the ethics of genetic engineering, the potential risks and unintended consequences of biotechnology, and the ways in which these technologies are likely to shape the future. Throughout the book, Metzl provides a thought-provoking and insightful look at the ways in which biotechnology is transforming our world and how we can navigate the complex ethical and social issues it raises. Overall, “Hacking Darwin” is an insightful look at the future of biotechnology and its implications for humanity.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Intersection of AI and genomics is key to understanding sequencing of genome and diseases, working to match genotypes and health records via UK Biobank (500k Britons, best in world genetics database), current medical system based on averages not personalized, polygenic scoring: use complex algos to predict individual genetic risks (IMPORTANT), 2006 Yamanaka start work on taking adult cells back to embryonic stem cells (iPCS)—revolutionary to go backwards in development, eventually able to use mice skin cells to make healthy mice, CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)—deploys tiny scissors like bacteria to cut attacking viruses to snip any genetic code in a targeted place and potentially insert new genetic code, 2017 find can change bases so pair with diff letters (avoid cutting DNA unintended effects), if get pair of recessive disease gene bad but one can make immune to other diseases like Ebola instance, “we are not infinitey complex beings, just massively complex ones”—tools will become sophisticated enough to understand us, metformin notable as drug to repair cells and fight disease beyond original expectations, rapamycin also great anti aging and slow metabolism and cell growth, most spending goes to diseases that show up with age vs better investment to slow aging itself, say shouldn’t choose genetics for child but child not choose prenatal nutrition/immunizations/baptism/circumcision/etc, eugenics supported across US early 1900s by Woodrow Wilson, Keynes, Graham Bell, Churchill and universities (Nazis originally pull from CA law), if oppose changing genes must be okay with allowing diseases to impact children, GMO foods consistently reviewed by science as just as safe if not safer for health and environment as non GMO (see Nat’l Academies of Science 2020 metareview, in reality everything GMO), took trump 2 years to appoint head of Office of Sci and Tech and cut staff in half with no other real AI initiatives, need to spark dialogue to lean into future of genetic engineering to shape conversation at individual level and educate

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Welcome to JeffReads, where I share summaries of the best books I’ve read on business, politics, science, technology and more.




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