ABOUT THIS EPISODE

CRISPR is a technique for altering the human genome. It might be the most powerful tool for biological modification that we have ever discovered. In this episode, we explore CRISPR: how it works, why it exists in the natural world, and the implications for being able to modify DNA so easily. Geoff Ralston is a partner at Y-Combinator. He wrote an article entitled Hacking DNA: The Story of CRISPR, Ken

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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00Chris Burke is a technique for altering the human genome it might be the most powerful tool for biological modification that we have ever discovered in this episode we explore crisper how it works why it exists in the natural world and the implications of being able to modify DNA
00:00:19so easily Jeff Ralston is a partner at why commentator he wrote an article entitled hacking a DNA the story of crisper Ken Johnson and the gene drive and since Jeff is not a biologist himself he's actually the perfect person to explain crisper to an audience of non biologists
00:00:39Jeff comes from an engineering and computer science background and cities in investor he's also great explaining the pace at which crisper might make it to market and how it might converge with some of the other futuristic trends that we're seeing so regularly today Sir really exciting conversation I
00:00:56had with Jeff and really enjoyable %HESITATION if you're interested in hosting a show for software engineering daily yourself we are looking for engineers and journalists and hackers who want to work with us on content this is a paid opportunity would pay three hundred dollars for shows that we
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00:01:45daily dot com slash story to find that store and buy some stuff now let's get on with the show for more than thirty years DNS has been one of the fundamental protocols of the internet yet despite its accepted importance it has never quite gotten to do that it
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00:03:38I think the DNS go to dine at dot com slash S. E. daily to learn more and get your free trial of the dynasty in an Jeff Austin is a partner at why commentator Jeff welcome to suffer engineering daily thanks for having me Jeff you wrote a blog
00:03:58post called hacking DNA the story of crisper Ken Thompson and the gene Dr why did you write this article well I have been fascinated by synthetic biology in general arm sort of the merger of of biotechnology and software engineering for for a while on for several years I
00:04:24I sort of had a tissue me one evening when I when I couldn't sleep and and and realized that the the programming of the human and indeed any genome was maybe not imminent but look coming soon and that the results of that we're going to be staggering important
00:04:43and %HESITATION and when I when I learned about crisper and realized it was it was AM it was one of the key missing pieces that was going to accelerate that technology and the future that it was going to impose upon the human race pretty pretty rapidly then I
00:05:06went about Jean drive and and Kevin assaults working gene drive and it just reminded me of this of this incredible hack that can Thompson did and so it just felt like something that needed to be written and I felt like even though there did a a bunch of
00:05:20really good jobs done %HESITATION talking about %HESITATION crisper and what it meant I I just think didn't think it was really in people's consciousness yet and I think it's so important so transformative that I want to do everything I could to to help to be better known that
00:05:41this that this up I think impending change for humanity was lurking out there and there just wasn't enough conversation about it and I just wanted to make the you know just help help make that conversation happened I guess you're not a professional biologist but she well I mean
00:06:01you see a lot of cutting edge science at why commentator and I think you know part of the job of a venture capitalist is to assess things that are somewhere in between research and go to market viable products in there's a continuum between those things and you never
00:06:23want to be you don't want to be too far on the side of research where it's like okay like quantum computing probably the quantum computing five or six or two maybe ten years ago or maybe even today I honestly am not up to date with quantum computing but
00:06:37that something where ten years ago we could have talked about quantum computing but the the the way is the quantum computing is going to impact the world and the pace at which it's going to do that is a big help less clear and you probably wouldn't have been
00:06:54made you know made good money investing in quantum computing ten years ago and and it takes you know it's it takes a venture capitalist mindset to perhaps translate those the state of science into the viability of that science having an effect on the broader world yeah you know
00:07:14there's a there's a famous investor who responded to the question on you know what's the secret to your success by saying that he always sold too soon I think the I'm one of the secrets to start up investing is to always invest too soon I know that's that's
00:07:35a little contradictory but it is true that you have to sort of get a little bit ahead not the the the the the harsh fact is if you really invest too soon in a technology if you're investing contemplating ten years ago you probably lose your money because the
00:07:49company can do great work but if there's no market that technologist isn't ready don't run out of money and that the company will probably shell so you want to be sort of too soon but ironic like not really too soon just a little bit before everyone else so
00:08:05that the technology has a chance to flourish at the right moment in time for for everything to come together the market the the viability at center but by the way we FYC we we didn't vesting hunting hip computing but not ten years ago two years ago was this
00:08:20incredible company cover Getty and %HESITATION and will really sad about the work they're doing yeah they just raised a big series Hey they did and it's funny because it seems like there's not really you know you think about what are the technologies today that resemble quantum computing ten
00:08:36years ago it's kind of I read what are they have baby it's like you know inter planetary transport like you can't you can't invest interplanetary transport today because you have no idea what that market is really gonna law are maybe you can't I guess I don't I don't
00:08:52know the deal flow well enough it wise you know that but it's kind of I don't know it might be a sign of the pace of technology that it's hard you know ten years ago he said okay quark computer's gonna impact something or genetic editing is gonna impact
00:09:03something at some point the distant future but we can't really investing today today it's like okay the future is it seems closer and judging by the fact that you can't really you can't really think of an investment that is implausible today you know one of I think that's
00:09:20actually incredibly well said that the future is closer to the future you know one of the on the effects of that is have you noticed how mainstream science fiction is now yeah I can I can I don't even read any I used to read science fiction I don't
00:09:36even read read read the news eggs it's really true right you know %HESITATION yeah but it used to be for geeks like me who let you know science fiction was this this in a little corner of the world that was ours forget back right it the science fiction
00:09:51is he's ever seen I think it's because the future is so closely what can you talk about that that we're not quite ready to invest in maybe space elevators not quite where we don't and maybe asteroid mining although people are starting to invest an asteroid mining so maybe
00:10:09it's not quite too late or too early for that so yum you know you might have said neural interfaces are three months ago but apparently that's not too early to invest in and %HESITATION you know via the the the the ability for people to take science fiction and
00:10:32turned into science fact out with incredible repeatedly is is stunning now that I think it's it's it's you know it's Alvin Toffler all over again it's the theme of our world's future shock the futures closer it's here now and it's moving ever ever more quickly closer to us
00:10:52right the D. it's it's hard to escape and I put I in all this is a bit of a attention but I personally think that one of the reason it feels like such a destructive age in sort of every sense not just in science and technology investing not
00:11:08in politics is is a function of that the fact the fact that people feel unsure about their future and unsure about what comes next and and that causes incredible nervousness and destruction and change and we see all around us now it seems like it's an unavoidable facet of
00:11:33our time yeah end you know I I don't to be further extend attention but here this morning it's like a you know I opened a Packer news in at the top of hacker news was some API for %HESITATION for replicating a voice you know it's just like where
00:11:50you can give it a small sample of somebody's voice and and you can just you know you can replicate that voices saying whatever you want and I see that and I'm like now I need it like do I need to email my family and tell them Hey be
00:12:03on the look out for scams up where it's you know sounds like somebody's voice that you're familiar with it except they're saying weird stuff like I actually gonna have to send an email to my parents to say you have to watch out for for this kind of scam
00:12:18is like it is just like when I see these kinds of new technologies and sometimes it just raises my anxiety because I think of the worst case scenario it's so funny you know if you think of the the way and we were just saying how the way science
00:12:32fiction turns into science fact remember that the original Star Trek when you know they will date went back in time and saw a future that the I think the I think the that the episode was you know Kirk and McCoy in one another maybe spot go back in
00:12:49time and they're trying to save the world and there's there's this guy there who who who was in our time but has advanced technology is really an alien and he's dictating to a typewriter which seemed ex you know like he's talking to what it what type of law
00:13:03that's so amazing but you know not so much and and and I just want to relate that to to what you just put it out remember in the trip original terminator movie you know from twenty out so yeah go where he mimics the voice of you know her
00:13:21mom or whomever that's just the technology just well that's all it is is you know and so why wouldn't you known and would be able to do it all they need is that little modules that you just talked about and they can sound like you and you know
00:13:37it's really you know you think about security in this modern agents kind of terrifying right it's it's kind of terrifying that you know you set yourself up with two factor authentication and you start to feel good because you get your phone and you carry it with you everywhere
00:13:51you go and you know that if you want to log into JI mallets got text you and you know you're OK said then you find out that it's really pretty easy to steal someone's phone number hate yeah there's a there's actually like two or three different mechanisms you
00:14:08can use to either steal someone's phone number still their tax or whatever so that's not that safe and then they could still your phone number in your voice yet and have all this information about you they could tell you I don't know it's me here's my social security
00:14:21number here's the address is the last four addresses that live which is up more was publicly available is Janice it's a it's stunning and scary you just yet matters you want it's not like the best thing to do is not be a target is if they come that's
00:14:36right trouble that's right it is a social pressure to well I guess not be a target whatever that means any I I did I did a show with him drop security India it is comforting to know that there are some technologists who are working on this really hard
00:14:51all the different vulnerabilities in the voice area yeah but it just makes me you know I think all of us are still living in the Nile yeah I'm gonna say I need to I need to get a you became I need to and a half and I I
00:15:11need to I shouldn't be saying that on a podcast right because like there's too many people who listen to this it's scary right it's it's more what this isn't exactly a topic room talk about but but %HESITATION but it's scary spring is the season of growth and change
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00:16:49thanks to hired for being a continued long running sponsor of software engineering data new human bodies are big computers and our genetic code is similar to binary the main difference is that humans invented the combo the compilation of binary to weaken encode and decode things in binary we
00:17:16can compress we can encrypt with the human genome we actually have to reverse engineer the decoding and encoding process the nucleotide sequences how much progress have we made in our understanding of how these coded nucleotide sequences translate to the higher level organic function that we they would like
00:17:40to be able to control an engineer who yeah so the big caddy at here is it as I'm not a biologist and a are from experts in these fields and you know the cool thing is and I really recommend his you grab some like Jennifer dialed in our
00:18:00war on or down okay all admit things saying you know the people who who really invented crisper and and right hand you and and and and they'll do a better job of ashes question it's actually funny that you know whenever you like software people start start talking about
00:18:18biology Curtis's biologists off and it you know some of the comments to to my post were were were a little bit angry because there's so much simplification you have no idea metaphor wrong you you think that you know you saw for people think it's a simple matter of
00:18:36programming and the ink credible complexity of protein folding and and the the expression of genes and the interaction with the environment it's nothing like you think in your little digital mines in here silicon substrates it's not that way in the squishy arm where world of biology and there's
00:19:05course right but how do you think that they're also they're also kind of missing the larger picture because for me I mean the answer to your question is you know that we've made incredible progress and we're not very far along there's there's like it you know I I
00:19:23the example I use in the arm in the essay was you know what happens when we can hack intelligence what if you if you as a parent could choose to increase the %HESITATION the I. Q. of your child by ten points would you do it and and the
00:19:44fact is we have not that much knowledge about I. Q. and how that relates to the genome war potential environmental factors it's incredibly complex and it will take awhile but my point is that it's still he it's merely a problem of difficulty it's hard but it's solvable and
00:20:10it's the more you have technologies like crisper the more tools you have in your tool chest to learn about the problem and figure out what it means you can up without experiment human beings by the way you can you can the way we with the way we learned
00:20:27so much about humanity without doing unethical experiments as we can we can experiment with animals and look it mice and see what sort of improvements in intellectual capacity we can make by editing the genome of of of mice or other animals and eventually we will we will figure
00:20:51that out it's not and I guess that's my main message here at Tallil biologists who are already pissed off at me for not understanding the field is that it doesn't matter it's inevitable that we will make progress and that I like I find it extremely unlikely that they're
00:21:10sort of unsolvable problems in how genes are expressed it is a code it is repeatable experiments are repeatable and we will gain the knowledge it's merely like we insist programmes it's simple matter programming here it is too but it's a matter of time in programming you just you're
00:21:32going to need time in it's different than the non determinism of the atomic level I think like maybe that's maybe that's the investment that we're not deliberate mechanics here right and by the way caught the mechanics is pretty damn deterministic in in in deterministic way like that the
00:21:52predictions that quantum mechanics makes are incredibly reliable and and that's why the macro will do so deterministic by the way it that not that reliability gives us the determinism of that right right the macro world including the lower levels of biology that we're getting into show absolutely so
00:22:12crisper stands for its acronym C. R. I. S. P. R. teams for clustered regularly interest based short palindromic repeats and this is the editing technology that as you say gives unprecedented power to genetic engineers and crisper itself refers to these repeated clusters of the strange nucleotide sequences in
00:22:35DNA yeah I mean it's kind of a missed like the whole legally I mean it's kind of a cool name crisper but like it's an like crisper as I point out in the essay is not really doesn't really refer to the editing technology right first to these these
00:22:52these arm these nucleotides that are repeated in in %HESITATION in originally enviro DNA which was really just a clue on the path to discovering the editing technology which use right which uses these enzymes called base Kasten's I'm so we really that technologies crisper casts right together yelling those
00:23:16two those two concepts together %HESITATION and and I guess no one came up the better in the crisper so we all called crisper but that that so that that weird that weird acronym which will you know I think someday be completely forgotten because who cares that there regularly
00:23:33inner space start that they're short without the palindromic it just doesn't matter show crisper these days clustered regularly airspace short palindromic repeats of DNA this was originally found in bacterial DNA explain why this in coding sequence indicated something that was actually quite useful for the bacteria what was
00:23:57their useful function yeah here levels back to this incredible epic battle being fought on a daily hourly eaten up by the minute and second this this battle between bacteria in stages with her viruses that attract bacterial bacteria were were all there with them and they were the only
00:24:22lay scheme in town for two billion years before there was multi cellular cellular life so that during that time there were still evolution and and viruses and viruses would attack arm bacteria bacteria developed defense mechanisms and and it turns out that crisper was one of those defense mechanisms
00:24:44this guy he gene **** kind of it is my understanding is that he had the first insight into these these Greek these these clustered repeats this crisper repeats were discovered in bacterial DNA long ago by these Japanese researchers but they didn't know what they were for and cooling
00:25:04in a sense I think they're a defense mechanism and it turns out that the bacteria developed a rudimentary %HESITATION immune system and even though Kristen's very sophisticated it turns on you know our muses time is incredible right we have we have armies I don't quite have that but
00:25:23what they do have is the ability to recognize certain invaders and to attack them and kill them essentially if you can think of it as a weird what we're talking about terms that perhaps suffer from a lack of real accuracy because I don't know if you can talk
00:25:40about killing a iris I don't even know what really alive but they're making it the rendering it inactive in so so it turns out that debt what bacteria can do is chop up a virus take its DNA and put in battle a virus and feature I'll use interchangeably
00:25:59it put that DNA into its own DNA sequence and using these casts enzymes you can grab that DNA put it into like this package with irony go wandering around its its sell and if I. bumps into DNA that matches these Cassin's Simes have molecular scissors that chop up
00:26:21that DNA and kill it essentially so what a cool defense mechanism it just turns out that that defense mechanism that that chop chop that it does is basically what you need to do that a DNA and it was the years these you know again this brilliant insight by
00:26:37by %HESITATION folks like Jennifer dogma and and %HESITATION Emmanuel seventy in Berkeley and things hang at at the broad institute at Harvard and MIT that figure this out and he and created crisper and by the way they're all creating Chris for companies inches really passing al yeah they're
00:26:57all they have the you know there's public Chris for companies already under their arm they're all like sort of in in it in essence in competition with one another to commercialize this data is going to be an epic battle of its of of its own to to see
00:27:14who who manages to to really commercialize surely not a winner take all battle I would you know I would think not I mean it's it's a little sad for me that it's that it's %HESITATION intellectual property battle I think intellectual property has has has unfortunately although it's been
00:27:39an incredible thing for innovation can be a real break in innovation but Chris for this sort of editing technology kind of feels to me like like V. I. O. people complaint is nothing like the act but it feels to me like something that like anyone to just be
00:27:51able to use it to to do what you know if you do whatever you want and and make it sort of that way but that people are are are should the the US patent office issuing patents issued one already and it's a battle between sort of the Berkeley
00:28:06folks in the broad for home the broad flat on the first first round in they were all working on this company editors together which is a public company but now data has split off in front of her own company Charpentier's split off and found her own company and
00:28:22so on and so seat we'll see what happens but you know one of the things is people want things that happens when you for companies is that people start to pour money into them and and you know that means that excuse me that I that you research see
00:28:37things happen their rights are companies being formed I need to do more shows in the in the in the legal area because I mean this is sort of like the same question I mean well similar question was he the same because we'll see what the court proceedings opposite
00:28:53a similar question to the self driving stuff like due to what degree did who were steal the light our technology and to what degree is this stuff just like common knowledge at this point where I don't know what I mean these seem like related questions really I mean
00:29:08think about think about look what's happened like voice is another great example where that happened right there is no one else who owned everything in Microsoft one everything and there's these epic battles there's bad leave even back when I was at Yahoo there is a battle she just
00:29:23after I left where folks we hired to to look invoice from nuance and there's dip had it intellectual property issues in their suits and that these are some of the call the core technologies that are going to drive the future there's going to be amazing battles around each
00:29:41and everyone of them from self driving too you know augmented to really there were around search back in the day and that will be around crisper and there will be around everyone of these these transformative technologies for sure yeah well I mean it is like like can warms
00:29:59opening up here and you some other shows around for topics but just switches to the listener to get an overview of what crisper is so you mention this this process of a bacteria is it you know there's a it's a never ending war between bacteria and bacteriophages and
00:30:17the bacteria in order to have a self defense mechanism against bacteriophage chops up the DNA of a virus that has defeated and inserts it into its own DNA so that it can use it as a template to recognize viruses in the future exactly and the the the technology
00:30:37that we can build around this is essentially we re purpose this this cut this labeling and cutting mechanism and it didn't labeling cutting an insertion mechanism to be able to edit Jim there is a this is generically applicable we can apply this to human DNA and and basically
00:30:58any anything any any sort of animal like that sort of like the epiphany I had way back when which was that if you think about it almost every living thing starts from exactly the same point you have a cell which is at least in the animal kingdom pretty
00:31:17much identical with a slightly different coat on the inside and the result of that cold is a radically different machine which by the way sort of self manufactures itself in every case and the variety of machines that can create is extraordinary from human beings and the human brain
00:31:42which is the most complex device we know about in the universe thus far it too tiny flying machines and large flying machines it's it's amazing and that cold is added a poll by it in essentially to my understanding every case by crisper we have been given this incredible
00:32:08tool to allow us to essentially make that cold whatever we want now we don't necessarily have the knowledge yet to be able to make it things that are useful the end use can be thought very broadly useful could be something dangerous horrible useful can be something wonderful but
00:32:30%HESITATION just to do something that matters is a little bit beyond our capability in every it in every case bought we do know a lot of things that we can do with this without any technology we know that we know for example we know a whole bunch of
00:32:48diseases the determined by single gene errors that sort of a piece of cake for four crisper and when you find things like you can determine which genes confirm unity to diseases for example HIV you could edit that and create that or for example if you know what genes
00:33:15are the ones that make solid cancers immune to our immune system allow them to fight off our immune system and you can change those you can then of our immune system to defeat cancer rates are all real applications are crisper that we're going to see in the in
00:33:35the short term that the arm ability of crisper to be broadly applicable I think is its most extraordinary feature and probably optical it in in in multiple dimensions in the sat of of different organisms in which it works from Skeeters to human beings and the set of applications
00:34:01within each of those organisms that it can apply to crisper itself only allows for modifications of one gene at a time one organism at a time that if we wanted to do what you call a species level change we need additional technology explain why that is I believe
00:34:24what you said is not quite correct that you could change clothes crisper to modify multiple genes at a time but the the the limitation if you want to call it a limitation is that is that just changing those genes in in you for example let's say you suffer
00:34:43from macular degeneration and that's a genetically predicated disease and that we can fix that by going into your eye by placing crisper into your eye in changing all the the DNA in your right not to no longer have that gene and therefore no longer express whatever gets expressed
00:35:00because macular degeneration unfortunately if your children are if you have chill if you suddenly have children will still have that gene and because the the the the the DNA in your in your eyeball does not get passed along to your to future generations however if you if you
00:35:23use crisper to change the either sperm rags then you actually can affect future generations and that is something the crisper can do the the reason I brought a gene drive is because it it just makes the impact it's it's a multiplier on the impact because if if you
00:35:48change your reproductive DNA that demand your sperm to to to to do something different it only has a fifty percent chance in each subsequent generation of being expressed in your being present in in your offspring gene Dr changes those odds essentially and %HESITATION and the G. drive that
00:36:11%HESITATION Kevin asphalt created essentially can get that close to a hundred percent and there's a lot of complexity there as to how effective it can be and and that the hand and as again by also point out that biology is complicated and there's there's there's ways that that
00:36:31%HESITATION that a crisper created gene drive can can run into it into barriers but those I think are are again amenable to terror rigorous hard work to overcome and what that means is that you can get actor mistakes genetically dried characteristics to spread throughout a population with startling
00:36:57repeatedly probably be used so much in human beings as it will be an in other speeches that we produce more rapidly like mosquitoes for example which is that where were asked what was was first experimenting so that you could for example kratom Skeeter population that could no longer
00:37:17carry malaria right so I hate to see what you're saying and I'm in again I I I I'll forgive you if you if you don't know the answer this question I clearly need to have some some people who are total expert in this field on the show actually
00:37:31think it's a good it's a hit a side note are you think it's a good when I start to do a series of shows actually I think it's sometimes good to start with a non expert like somebody this gesture of external X. observer because they're a little better
00:37:43at bridging the gap between the laymen and the %HESITATION advanced shows so is it is actually makes a lot of sense but I tell me about the wait although it's especially hard in in in biology biotechnology because if you talk to folks it's it's very easy to get
00:37:58lost in the not just the terminology because here everyone is darkened right let the jargon and lots and lots and lots of acronyms but it it is actually incredibly complex how this stuff works in right you know I mean I'm very cold back but there is this these
00:38:14underlying levels of complexity that it's your right is sometimes helpful not even to know about I I fully understand how if you change the the spat the sperm or the egg level you change the DNA and then it and then my ptosis takes care of replicating the change
00:38:30to DNA as time goes on in the organism and then it's also changed in the offspring of that organism but if I am a fully grown human and my phenotype includes some kind of macular degeneration and that's the term like how do you change the genetic or how
00:38:47do you change all of the cells in my eyes with crisper do you like spray my eye with the crisper juice or do you have to insert something or is it a surgical procedure that is there is there a way to do that in a minute fully developed
00:39:01human yes of people are developing them right now I think the question you're asking is what's the delivery mechanism right are developing those as we speak we're actually on funding companies delivery mechanisms that why see so it's a good question how do you get the crisper inside the
00:39:22genes but dom I think I'll leave I'm not an expert at that K. that that you might as well think about it is spraying the I. with crisper and and it gets inside the cells and doesn't stuff and there are definitely are ways to do that arm there
00:39:41are ways to get chemicals enzymes %HESITATION packages across all barriers and what you do that there are ways you know that that it can it can go do it stuff so yeah there there are ways to get crisper inside and that wasn't made a case people are trying
00:39:58to to to create crisper systems that will %HESITATION that will correct things like macular degeneration of course you know it would be better if you could if it if it was indeed a genetic disease that you just get rid of it first before it's in your DNA and
00:40:18that's why %HESITATION changing the DNA of of you know that senator miosis is the instrument the egg can make sense but it's ethically incredibly challenging right where where exactly is the consent to modify it that the DNA of a person that isn't born yet and you know a
00:40:42couple of Chinese researchers did some experiments on human embryos using crisper and indeed arm change the DNA in a way that it would have been arm it had those embryos they were nonviolent gross there's never any possibility of this but had the embryos been viable and had they
00:41:04run into human beings their DNA would have been generational detain those changes would have been generational and it was very controversial even though they were not viable just because you know there's all sorts of questions consensus is one of them about about whether it's difficult to change that
00:41:21genome of a of a of a human being before their human being and I and I think those are complex questions actually it in one sense though think it from the perspective and uniquely from the perspective of whether the technology goes for him other people try that or
00:41:40not it doesn't matter people try it I think and that doesn't mean that the ethical considerations don't matter I think they're incredibly important but but like I it that the indoors box has been opened and it's very hard to contain a technology this once it's out there and
00:41:55so I I think it would be very naive for us to think that that %HESITATION whatever whatever after Hoover streets we put on ourselves will be enforced will many of those many of those questions are gonna be side stepped because there's plenty of things you can do with
00:42:12people who have some horrible genetic malady that they're willing to do any sort of experimentation I mean this is that though that's in the post developed a human being area of things but you know even if you're talking about the developmental side of things the G. error that
00:42:31gene Dr %HESITATION experiments that you would want to be doing on an on an embryo doesn't even have to be a human I mean you can do this kind of stuff on a monkey embryo or a mouse embryo and and right you know it's not like that it's
00:42:46only that totally sidesteps the ethical questions but at least reduces the the passion around them to a level that's not at the abortion abortion level controversy case in point I believe that those Chinese researchers at something like a twenty percent hit rate in other words there there there
00:43:09crystallization of these embryos failed seventy two percent of the time which sounds pretty bad hello getting twenty percent to work is is something I mean you know if you're doing IVF that that great sounds about right but but further advances in their techniques were tried in mouse embryos
00:43:30in my understanding is they were a hundred percent accurate hunt percent successful so so you know the science is advancing all the time in an incredibly rapidly and I think the hardest thing to keep track of will be the set of things that crisper is being used for
00:43:45there's going to be thousands of applications on crisper can be used as a racing before on disease vectors crisper can be used potentially as a kind of this yet you know super antibiotic crisper can be used to fight cancer on Chris for could be used to create bio
00:44:11fuels and to create more efficient crops or or or crops that have defense mechanisms against to see their own disease vectors so the out like just keeping track like once you have an editing to it's sort of it's sort of like you know it software trying to keep
00:44:29track of all the things you can do with software because once you can edit the software you know it goes from the set of things that you can research as a bio technologist up for your PhD has just expanded many many fold likewise a set of companies you
00:44:49can create the sort of things you can look at our approachable now that whenever approachable before solvable is extraordinary that's why is such an important technology has been recognized as is so transformative but I just you know I think it's it's a sort of separate or final all
00:45:10that will be that someone's gonna try to change human beings with us in in fundamental ways she you know I just think there's this theme from you about Horry's written about this I think %HESITATION eloquently in in %HESITATION insists in most areas but especially hold it up right
00:45:28about the fact that they're on we we might I don't know if you have kids I do but the it might sort of be the last generation yeah holes sapiens away with the whole sapiens there's this there's these three four six that are going to I think change
00:45:46humanity forever and one is crisper and one is a I and the other is human augmentation which is which is kind of connected and you know this is a train that has left the station this is going to happen and I you know I tell my kids you
00:46:05you're like you have you are living in probably the most interesting time incredible time ever you may be able to achieve immortality you may be able to change your bodies and your children in ways that had never been thought of before it's probable at this point it you
00:46:25know in it I think the only argument might be whether it's whether it's this generation to the next generation what we know what what it we talking ten years twenty years or fifty years I don't know but but the on it that printer not more yeah and I
00:46:42mean **** white like frankly I'm just not really even thinking I mean when I talk to people about day having kids or not I mean I'm sure like it's kind of a moot point like that Sir at like a sure thing I mean there you be fun to
00:46:53have kids and it would also be fun to just have completed depends as we begin to explore this crazy frontier but in any case it doesn't really matter because even the idea idea of of individual human beings is gonna be a moot point in like thirty to fifty
00:47:08years I don't know I'm not I'm not sure I I know what that means and I think you know from you know one of the points that Harari makes is that it you know it it's sort of like %HESITATION pre humans chimpanzees oracle guerrillas trying to imagine how
00:47:33we approach problems and what what what sort of things were solving for us to try to imagine what that the next set of thinking beings are going to be preoccupied with but %HESITATION but I don't know that that there's there's any like something I find are inevitable like
00:47:53I I find it inevitable that the that DC changes we've been talking about what happened I don't know that it's inevitable that we'll lose the concept of individuality you know the the reason is is that that is still one of the deepest mysteries is one of consciousness right
00:48:13and you know I suspect that you know we were talking about sort of how the complexity of biology and I find it hard to imagine that there's complexities of biology that are not amenable to to human intellectual %HESITATION approaches in understanding Sir that that that we can open
00:48:36them up I I don't I don't think that's so likely it's possible but I don't think it's a likely but consciousness you know there might be a noble's there I I don't know that that because there's this subject to quality to it that might be difficult to get
00:48:49at and it just might be true that that that arm that will be able to everything there is to know about consciousness and that and that and maybe a I will be will help us figure that out if we can create consciousness and the different substrate then on
00:49:03a brain then we'll probably understand it fairly well that being said we don't even understand why deep learning does what it does so I'm I'm not so it's not so obvious to me that human beings in our current intellectual capacity will be able to do that we might
00:49:20just run run into limits that we don't understand yet but consciousness in the bedroom individuality obviously tightly intertwined and whether we have to whether it's inevitable that we we have to let go of that individuality even just because we're connected in a much more tight tightly are understood
00:49:40fashion to other consciousnesses isn't so do you want the flexibility of a non relational key value store together with the query capabilities of sequel take a look at C. tree ace by fair com C. tree ace is a non relational key value stores that offers acid transactions complemented
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00:51:11compe she treats for being a new sponsor software engineering daily and you can go to software engineering daily dot com slash affair com to check it out and support the show I wonder sometimes like how much of this kind of stuff can I talk about because it's almost
00:51:29like one of these things it's like that but Paul Graham peace what you can't say it's like can you can you even talk about this stuff at the dinner table these days read that you know the thanksgiving dinner table without making people like really upset and uncomfortable the
00:51:42you're questioning the nature of humanity in this lifetime how do I mean I think I think that goes back to the the the point I was making earlier that people are getting nervous right I just think that you know at at is may be a step too far
00:52:01but I think if you look at some tracks it to trump to to the recent French election yeah that the weight populations are just like you know people are freaking out I freaking out and and I really do think so I think that you know I just I
00:52:18sort of felt in two thousand eight during the financial crisis that sort of one of the fundamental underpinnings of the world that I'd sort of us and made us some assumptions about that that it was like that think kinda knew what they were doing they should markets like
00:52:32like it was all kind of like and I realize that that's not so much and I think that there was this unsettling that happened right it's like that could happen again like what's stopping at the what they were just going and going you know that we haven't gotten
00:52:45really any smarter we're not you know we're just we're we're just going to do some regulations and then a bunch of people they all those regulations sock we need to get rid of them and get rid of the regulations and I will be there yet it's the same
00:52:59thing right people are nervous and freaking out and and I I think you know I think you can have these conversations and people don't quite know what to make of it like when you tell people all yeah this is like this could be the last generation of human
00:53:13beings sounds like you know that's that's like the guy walking around with a placard saying the end is near like like that's crazy talk and it might be maybe not crazy talk but not destroyed like it could be wrong but but it's not wrong for long so I
00:53:30do think people like like normally when when people like crazy and say crazy things it makes people nervous and and and there's enough people saying that now that they're really because who knows you know you know this guy might just be falling yes it almost doesn't matter like
00:53:47how you personally are updating your societal norms it's more like just like how do you just I mean it's always like this explains like the prepper phenomenon or people talking about prepping and just like there's some crazy stuff going on in it look here's the thing here's the
00:54:06thing and I and I'm you know I was thinking about this as I was reading arm days and and you know it really ani is this discussion about like what happens when you know as you get to this new level of humanity in used you can start to
00:54:25think about populating the galaxy right you can't I mean you can yeah you it and it you know the the math is such that it doesn't even take that long that once you start being it like if you can imagine a silicon substrate or you can imagine humanity
00:54:41able to to to to take a whole bunch of different steps interstellar travel is is not beyond us if you talk about you know time frames it sound crazy now but like you talk about it hundreds of thousands of years for millions of years but this begs the
00:54:57incredibly important question then recall for me **** right is where are they all where is everybody why haven't we seen anyone because word not that young in the in the universe the nurses there are fourteen billion years right and so if this is sort of a natural evolution
00:55:22and life is common how come other folks doesn't have it sort of spread out throughout the galaxy worse they have how come we've never met them or how come they're hiding from us or or maybe there there isn't anyone so either I mean there's a there's a few
00:55:38assumptions you have to make their but maybe the most popular is that there's a great filter right which is that right at you make it to the stage and then something bad happens and you know so you know the peppers are are are you maybe they wouldn't put
00:55:54it quite this way but they're they're thinking there there really is a filter something bad's gonna her shirt right in and and it's it's it's it's I mean I I I don't say prepper in in any sure derogatory term I do think like the for when you get
00:56:08to the Fermi question you're you're on grounds where it's equally plausible that the others are invisible or they to you know completely transcend the king of the world the world that we can sense or were in a simulation or any one of these different like things I think
00:56:26those are all equally plausible I think probabilistic Klay if there's lots and lots of life out there I mean if life if life actually is arm fairly common in the universe and that arm and it's not that unusual for technology to be developed then I think it's quite
00:56:46surprising that we haven't seen any indication of that at all at all ever nothing right essentially that surprising to me and so on it feels like there's something wrong in that equation hit this doesn't let I don't I don't know about possibility but it just you know because
00:57:06if that were true then there would have been very very ancient %HESITATION species that would have gotten as far as us and probably would have tried to go out you know to expand throughout the galaxy and so we would have found us yeah but if he is so
00:57:20if you take a probabilistic if you take a probabilistic mice had one problem with each one quickly and I got to that I was like you know if you're playing in the simulation realm of of possibilities like you know if you just look at humanity it's like wow
00:57:36you just like as you're talking your kids you're saying today is literally the most exciting time you could live in well if somebody were going to build the simulate like if if if human if the future or world of humans was going to build a simulation to simulate
00:57:49people like us with the most fun simulation would be the reality today as far as we understand it which it could I don't know it's it's gets into a pretty far so I don't know that's you know for what it's worth that's kind of my my interpretation of
00:58:08of quantum mechanics he is that is that is that %HESITATION that Clinton can answer me increases the likelihood that this is a similar right now and the what all those probabilities means is just so scientists it's a short cut sort of its own you know %HESITATION if it's
00:58:26delayed calculation of of %HESITATION up things that a software programmer did so that they didn't have to or all the locations were all the time you don't care until you have to care it's just you know that's firing simulation that right awhile yeah yeah well I mean and
00:58:44a half okay will so %HESITATION deal to get back to reality as we close off this interview so that you know you are doing some investment in crisper what are the complicate talk about some of the companies that you've invested in well a few it turns out that
00:58:58I'm on a mission I mention a couple a lot of more art art show newly in our current passion I can't really talk about turn one of the interesting ones is company called mentioning and %HESITATION it actually is is that it is said you will kill me for
00:59:18saying this but they're they're they're sort of not there there may be a little on the boring side of Chris for they just they they enable crisper companies sort of they're not creating Chris for technology but they they they help people manage all of their their their DNA
00:59:36and sell their being used by every Chris for company so that's essentially Chris for company but the and I sort of that's core crisper infrastructure if you will sell it and in fact infrastructure is not at all boring some sars edgy alara is another example and %HESITATION they're
00:59:56doing something really fascinating they take organisms %HESITATION that %HESITATION there are in important ways have similarities to to human function and use crisper to modify those organisms so that day have rare diseases that appear in human beings and then they uses organisms to test drug compounds to to
01:00:26see what will work on those rare diseases so that these diseases that are incredibly difficult to deal with that that people are loath to spend lots of money on because it's so expensive to find drugs for rare diseases can be much more if you will economically approached and
01:00:46and dealt with so %HESITATION so that's a really cool company is just another way that Chris for can be used to sort of a a tangential way if you will Christopher can be used to help approach diseases that %HESITATION that were just not you know that we were
01:01:05tickets to either either up a foreshortened life very difficult life for %HESITATION really no life at all so you know in the sub your software around eight of the US has removed a lot of the execution risk that you might have had in in investment in the past
01:01:25public creep created the S. era is there still a lot of execution risk around the the stuff that crisper companies are building on top of I think it's almost certainly true that the the execute the execution risk that has been written lately it's important start with what the
01:01:45execution is it's been removed Christopher's removed which is that it used to be incredibly time consuming and way too expensive to do the kind of edits that could have substantive impact and so you had scientists wasting years of their life trying to do this and you know sometimes
01:02:06coming up empty and sometimes not getting nearly as far along as they wanted to and in just shooters long periods of time increase for makes it fast cheap accurate easy so that that problem is mostly solved what hasn't been solved and the and the the real execution risk
01:02:26that still exists is that you know we're talking about for the most part for a lot of these things are technologies what they wanted human beings are sure human beings impact human beings and so you have to go through %HESITATION FDA approval and that's still hard and slow
01:02:47and risky arm you have to do if two trials you have to be careful trials because these technologies you don't have the potential to do harm as well as incredible good so we want to be the companies will have to be careful we want as a site society
01:03:04to be careful that's why the way but by the way why Pelor is so genius because arm it it it's it's found a way to new ones that so that you can do the drug discovery of drugs that already exist in organisms you don't need to get FDA
01:03:22approval to to change to Chris prizes organisms and you can solve disease that way which is really cool so you can you can move very quickly to market but so but you know that that that risk that infrastructure risk probably shouldn't go in and and hasn't I Jeff
01:03:38well thanks for coming on suffering G. daily is a really great wide ranging conversation I I really enjoyed having you on Hey I enjoyed it a lot artificial intelligence is dramatically involving the way that our world works and to make a I easier and faster we need new
01:03:59kinds of hardware and software which is white Intel acquired nirvana systems and its platform for deep learning Intel nirvana is hiring engineers to help develop a full stack for a I from chip design to software frameworks go to software engineering daily dot com slash Intel to apply for
01:04:19an opening on the team to learn more about the company check out the interviews that I've conducted with its engineers those are also available at software engineering daily dot com slash Intel come build the future with Intel nirvana good a software engineering daily dot com slash Intel to
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