11-26 - BIO 5099 Molecular Biology for Computer...

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BIO 5099: Molecular Biology for Computer Scientists (et al) Lecture 26: Biology and Society http://compbio.uchsc.edu/hunter/bio5099 [email protected] Why Social Aspects? Molecular biology (and biotechnology) will lead to explosive changes in the world. Today, we discuss some of the ways that the topics we studied this semester will have broader social implications The materials in this class can help you understand (and maybe effect) these changes. The privilege of knowledge brings with it a responsibility to use that knowledge for the good of the society that created it and made it possible for you to learn it. The role of knowledge in action Issues Values Human action & decision- making processes Knowledge : recognition, prediction, engineering, planning Outcomes Predictions The World Intervention
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This class... Will raise some of the issues around biology that I believe are likely to confront us. Is shaped by my values (particularly in the choices about what to include and not), but attempts to be reasonably value neutral. Which means no prescriptions for what to do... May lead to conflicts based on differing values So I will try to lead us away from discussions about what we should do, and towards understanding some of the challenges that may confront us. Change is coming Compare the revolution in molecular biology with the advent of information technology: MolBio is half as far along as IT First stored program computer: 1946 (56 years ago) First recombinant DNA: 1974 (28 years ago) The social import of applications seems in many ways more fundamental to what it is to be human : IT: Communication, Banking/Finance, Commerce(?)... Biology: Food, Health/Medicine, Reproduction Challenges are different: IT: Infrastructure fragility, privacy invasion, alienation? Bio: novel diseases, genetic pollution, germline change Some MolBio & Society issues Biotechnological Problems Predictive/Personalized Medicine and US Health Care Genetic pollution Biowarfare How to value life Biodiversity and mass extinction Lifeform patents What it is to be alive, and be human The status of engineered organisms Issues around genetic engineering and humanity The precautionary principle How (and whether) to capture uncertainty in policymaking
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Even good things present challenges Imagine that the promise of genomic medicine is largely fulfilled: Predictive : tests for particular polymorphisms lead to accurate predictions of future disease.
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