Openly Engineering Our Ecosystems

Kevin Esvelt

Which technologies should we develop and how? Kevin Esvelt, leader of the Sculpting Evolution group and a professor at the MIT Media Lab, describes how CRISPR ‘gene drives’ can single-handedly alter entire wild populations and the critical importance of requiring powerful technologies to be developed in the open light of day.

Kevin Esvelt

Kevin Esvelt is an Assistant Professor of the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Sculpting Evolution Group in exploring evolutionary and ecological engineering. In 2013, he was the first to identify the potential for CRISPR “gene drive” systems to alter wild populations of organisms. Recognizing the implications of an advance that could enable individual scientists to alter the shared environment, he and his colleagues chose to break with scientific tradition by revealing their findings and calling for open discussion and safeguards before they demonstrated the technology in the laboratory.
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