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About Arts, Culture & Human Biotechnology


Mention genetic technologies or human enhancement to the average person, and more likely than not their first response will reference the 1997 film Gattaca or Aldous Huxley's 1932 classic, Brave New World. Art and popular culture profoundly influence how we think about ourselves and each other, and portrayals of human biotechnologies are likely to affect how we think about future social arrangements. Ultimately this can shape the policy decisions we make today.

The social meanings of human biotechnologies have been pondered in film, television shows, painting, and other visual arts; in speculative fiction, novels, and children's books, and other literature; in performance and experiential art; and even in a project that produced a living rabbit engineered to glow in the dark.



As Data Overflows Online, Researchers Grapple With Ethicsby Vindu GoelThe New York TimesAugust 12th, 2014It’s the frontier of social science — experiments on people who may never even know they are subjects of study, let alone explicitly consent.
The Perfect 46: A “Science Factual” Film about our Near Futureby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJuly 10th, 2014A new science fiction film called “a sort of prequel to Gattaca” highlights the rise and fall of a genetic startup that analyzes people’s genomes to assess their ability to produce disease-free children.
Orphan Black: The Best Show You’ve Never Seenby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 29th, 2014A BBC America television series about clones is seriously good.
Charging Into the Minefield of Genes and Racial Differenceby Arthur AllenThe New York TimesMay 15th, 2014Few areas of science have contributed more to human misery than the study of racial difference. In A Troublesome Inheritance, Nicholas Wade argues that scientists need to get over their hang-ups and jump in.
Transcendence: See it for its Cultural Relevance, Not its Plot Lineby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 1st, 2014Transcendence won’t win you over with its dialogue or love scenes, but it’s a great springboard for pondering what quickly approaching developments in artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and regenerative medicine may actually mean for society.
DNA Dreamsby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2014The documentary film that explores the inner workings of BGI Shenzhen, “the world’s largest genomics organization,” is now available in full on YouTube.
To Understand Science, Study Historyby Alejandra DubcovskyThe Chronicle of Higher EducationFebruary 24th, 2014Teaching history to students who plan to be doctors, scientists, or engineers forces them to lift their heads beyond the lab bench or the clipboard. It gives them a sensitivity that only the humanities can teach.
Bodies and Babies Commodified: A Review of Breedersby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorBiopolitical TimesFebruary 17th, 2014Breeders serves as a necessary corrective to the rosy PR the surrogacy industry puts out.
DNA Dreamingby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 13th, 2014A new documentary looks at the Chinese company that styles itself "the world’s largest genomics organization,” and its hunt for the genetic basis of intelligence.
Top Science Longreads of 2013by Ed YongNational GeographicDecember 23rd, 2013I’m really optimistic about the future for long, deep, rich science reporting. There are more places that are publishing it, more ways of finding it, and a seemingly huge cadre of people who are writing it well.
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