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Illustration of scales of justice super-imposed over DNA strand

In his 2021 novel Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro painted a disturbing picture of a world where gene editing has become commonplace and carefully outlined the detrimental impact this has on family dynamics, society and the economy.

Through the eyes of a robotic “artificial friend”, Klara, we are told the story of Rick and Josie. Through gene editing, Josie has been “lifted” with genetic enhancement while Rick has not. The consequences are that Josie has fallen ill and Rick is ostracised from society and left with an uncertain future.

The concepts covered in Klara and the Sun were initially reflected on by Ishiguro in his 2017 Nobel Prize lecture. As he said, “And around the corner – or have we already turned this corner? – lie the challenges posed by stunning breakthroughs in science, technology and medicine. New genetic technologies – such as the gene-editing technique CRISPR – and advances in artificial intelligence and robotics will bring us amazing, life-saving benefits, but may also create savage meritocracies that resemble apartheid, and massive unemployment, including to those in...