Elon Musk told why he does not want to engage in genetic engineering

By | December 30, 2020

During a rather long and detailed interview with Elon Musk, which he gave to Business Insider journalist Tim Urban, among other questions, the following question was asked: is there a possibility that the owner of such innovative companies as SpaceX and Tesla will turn his attention to genetic engineering issues? After all, human health, biotechnology, genetic modification are just another facet of innovation, and who else, if not Elon Musk, with his reputation as a charismatic visionary leader, deal with these issues? While still a college student, young Elon asked himself a question – what would he like to do in life and what could have the most significant impact on people’s lives? He made a list of five points for himself: space exploration and planetary colonization, energy, the Internet, artificial intelligence and modification of the human genome. Everyone knows very well that at least three tasks from this ambitious list are being solved by Elon Musk with the help of companies created by him. 

Moreover, SpaceX and Tesla cast such a thick shadow on Musk’s success in the Internet business that Paypal is often mentioned only in passing in the context of his personal achievements. In November last year, Elon gave a gloomy forecast about his fears in the development of artificial intelligence: he believes that within the next 5-10 years it will end with something unpleasant or simply dangerous for humanity. Interestingly, the famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking expressed approximately the same opinion. 

Regarding the last item on his list of challenges – genetic engineering – Musk believes that this is a potential trigger for serious ethical problems in society, the resolution of which can be very costly. If we can edit human genes to avoid a number of serious diseases like Huntington’s disease, that is certainly great. But are there any guarantees that people will be able to stop and not start solving problems at the genetic level that will inevitably lead to the question “what is the generally acceptable human gene code?” In this sense, potential “gene discrimination” is possible, because at one time his parents did not have enough money to “correct” his genes and he had to be born with a level of intelligence below the “minimum acceptable”. And the definition of this limit poses serious questions for society, which will become more and more difficult. Musk calls this situation “Hitler’s problem.” “… He [Hitler] had the idea of ​​creating a Superman and genetic purity. And how we can avoid this problem – I don’t know.”

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