What happens when we make the world in our own image?

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What happens when we make the world in our own image?

Watch the fourth episode of our animated Frankenstein series, Reanimation!

Reanimation! is a seven-part series created by seven animation teams and 12 scientists, writers, engineers, physicists, and an archaeologist, on the lasting impact of Shelley’s famous work. 

Each episode waxes poetic about different scientific, ethical, and philosophical domains and the lessons we’ve collectively learned from Dr. Frankenstein’s mistakes and triumphs.

Have you ever wondered about the evolution of human tool use? How are Paleolithic stone tools related, cognitively, to the development of genetic engineering tools like CRISPR? In the fourth episode, Tools of Our Own, Genevieve Dewar, a paleoanthropologist and archaeologist at the University of Toronto, and Kate Krueger, a molecular biologist and research director at the nonprofit New Harvest, explain some of the larger implications of our desire to mold the world around us. Wild and woolly stop-motion animation by Amia Yokoyama with sound by Skillbard.

Comment Peer Commentary

We ask other scientists from our Consortium to respond to articles with commentary from their expert perspective.

Brianna Bibel

Biochemistry

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The concept that when humans have more free time we are more likely to be innovative and change our environment appears rife for elitism. Having such free time is a privilege that many don’t have, so this could lead to the privileged shaping our environment “for” all of us based on what they feel is best, which might not be the most advantageous to everyone. 

I think this is one of the reasons people “fear” genetic modification - the “monsters” they worry about aren’t necessarily the organisms that scientists are creating, but the scientists themselves. I think that the future of genetic engineering must be more open and transparent and the public needs to be better informed about how the science works and be part of the conversation about how we want to use it.