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Imagine gene editing technology being as ubiquitous as smartphones—an editing device in every teenager’s pocket capable of altering, creating, and transforming life as we know it. It sounds like science fiction—perhaps a terrifying version of it—but so was CRISPR technology until just a few years ago in 2013. CRISPR gene editing technology adapts a system that’s been used by bacteria for millions of years as a way of fighting off viruses and involves removing or inserting portions of code into genes.

Since its creation in 2013, this technology has developed at an astounding speed, which is raising a number of ethical questions and concerns, such as whether we as human beings should harness this technology to design babies, bring back extinct species, or create new species. In addition to these controversial questions, Tarun Wadhwa emphasizes the unknowns in terms of the experimentation that will occur as this technology becomes more widespread. “We have a technology that’s cheap, democratized, and then you abstract away the technical layers and all of the sudden…you don’t really know what’s going to happen,” says Wadhwa. As the founder and CEO of Day One Insights and visiting instructor at Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering, Wadhwa’s goal is to advance the conversation surrounding this technology in order to increase the public’s understanding of what it is and the potential it holds, as well as how culture will influence its reception, dissemination, and use. He provides insight into what the future may look like, and what to expect going forward.

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