Arthur Caplan, Bioethicist and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania (and former director of a similar center at the U of M), talks about key ethical issues in the new millennium. Topics include breakthroughs in genetics, biology and stem cell research. Caplan also answers listener questions.
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Good morning, and welcome to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm very active glad you could join us think of all the scientific and technological breakthroughs of the 20th century cars playing in space travel Einstein in the theory of relativity nuclear power computers, the Internet antibiotics transplants in genetic manipulation Dolly the cloned sheep the list the breakthroughs is astonishing when you think about it, but even more so when you consider these quotes from right around 1900 the turn of the last century Albert Michelson American physicist said quote the more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been.And these are now so firmly established that the possibility of there ever being supplemented is exceedingly remote or this quote from the commissioner of the US patent office everything that can be invented has been invented. Other words if history is any guide even with all those brakes breathtaking breakthroughs in the 20th century. Basically, we ain't seen nothing yet. Big changes are ahead and join us this hour to discuss some of those possible scientific breakthroughs we can look for is Arthur Caplan late director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania farmer director of the University of Minnesota Center for bioethics, and of course a frequent guest here in our midday program, as always we invite you to join our conversation. Give us a call here. We're talking about what science may have in store for us during this new century, and if you'd like to join our conversation, here's the number to call 651-227-6065 1227 6000 outside the Twin Cities. You can reach us toll-free at 1-800. +242-282-865-1227 6000 or 1. 800-242-2828 are the Kaplan. Thank you for joining us. This morning by Gary the talking with you again up. First of all before we is zero in on some of these specific whiz-bang things brought her question. I guess is it fair to assume that? We're on the verge of a whole new raft of amazing scientific and technological changes my job. Yes, I think so. I think it's because we have Basically, the merging science genetics coming online in the way. The physics is the beginning of the last century think about electricity, power mastering even things like magnetism physics really revolutionized the 20th century 21st century. Well through genetics and biology are going to play that kind of role whether it's in how we grow our food and what we do with animals whether it's been trying to understand their own genetic instructions and then change or alter them to either fix diseases or I suspect on the road to improve ourselves and cancer cells protect ourselves the integration of Knowledge of the human brain, you know, we're looking at pictures now if the brain functioning in real time as with light up different areas and say well there's someone who's telling the truth of there's someone who's thinking antisocial fats. If you take the cognitive Revolution the brain Revolution Genex Revolution, I think it's going to be quite an explosion of the inventions discoveries breakthroughs. Are we going to be able to absorb and add app to all of all of this new science? What we always do and I don't mean to be about it. I mean, I think we will because we have to the question is are we going to be healthier happier seen her for it one might say, you know, if you were looking at the prospect of an internet at the beginning of the twentieth century monthly cash. How are we going to live with all that rapid exchange of information all that Commerce over the some kind of mysterious electronic ether out there. Can we move at that pace? I think we can we do but some might say gosh it changes the world for the worse. I don't really like that kind of pace. I don't like that kind of environment in which I live. So I think we'll adapt to it. The question is are we going to make it a happy a Temptation? Well, I thought we'd start today in terms of some of the specifics with an item out of today's news namely that the Japanese scientist. Say they've been able to grow new frog eyes and frog years now. Does that mean I from stem cells against the Frog does that mean that we're going to be able to grow our own replacement parts parts here soon. Will certainly good news for frogs and need a transplant. I suspect that we seem to be able to answer and frog transplant, but I think the future of organ transplant is going to be to grow cells not by stem cell work, but actually just by cloning self to think about a lot of the things that we transplanted a liver and pancreas left today. We don't really need to transfer the whole organ for a lot of what you're trying to get into the person who's suffering a disease. You just need certainty cells in the case of a diabetic can eat Celtic make insulin stem cells from liver would be very helpful for someone. His liver is failing you can grow those and sheets of cells and I think that's what we're going to do is is wind-up cloning. Lots of self themselves to give us the possibility of making organs and I think we'll be doing that to your memory care. There's a lot of speculation when dolly was cloned that we might actually have sort of these cloned individuals who'd hang around and be kind of portable organ Farms. I never thought that was an interesting thing to worry about because it's kind of a Down play the idea that the Clone might not be so eager to give up their heart or their liver when the time came, but absolutely Going to be growing things that have structure and that's what makes this Japanese study interesting. I'm not I'm not want to get too excited about it until I see it replicated until really have a go at the Quality Oregon at 8 or to grow organs that have shaped like hearts and eyeballs and that are in a three-dimensional but sheets of cells skin fluids like blood absolutely. We're going to be cloning and growing those things and that's going to be the 21st century version the transplant. What about this building Parts? Yeah, I think about artificial organs we had this Very bad experience with the artificial heart which did not work properly was put into people prematurely just was not ready to go as a permanent Oregon replacement. But I research on those device. Stopped in what we actually have quietly going on not as dramatically is the inventions of things like the left ventricular assist device, which is a porcel artificial heart people are always busy at Medtronic making pacemakers and other kinds of the component parts that many many people now have in their bodies and don't even think about having their day to maintain electrical flow of the heart artificial organs are going to come to I think that we will see an artificial heart that works within the next 20 to 25 years. I think that that will probably solve once and for all the problem of shortage with respect to organ donation and I think we're going to see something even stranger further down the road and that is the interface between artificial mechanical implants in the Brain, I do believe the time will come when we will actually enhance our memories or learn certain tasks buy feeding information from a chip directly into our brain cells that the electrochemical interface between brain biology and what we can do in terms of a chip technology is going to come and I think computer the computer age will intersect the biological Revolution and we'll see that kind of artificial organ coming as well complete artificial brain, but ways to supplement and enhance brain function I think will happen you mean for example, if I wanted to learn French I could have somebody stick of French chip in me. I'd be all set to go from continuing education place and get the chemical changes that are the equivalent of learning French done in your head by hours and hours and hours of studying and memorization so on. We will someday find out how to get the patterns of what that's all about. You do a chip and be able to if not download the dictionary of French or the grammar French at least elements of it. That would make it easier to learn. Out on the frontier. Is that sounds I do think that's going to happen. So I'll keep the rest going to look back from Italy end of the 21st century and perhaps a they did what they actually satin berlitz classes for how long to learn these things aren't as our guests this hour he's the director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, and he's joined us the shower to talk about what we might expect in the way of Science and Technology breakthroughs during the 21st century. Lord knows there were plenty of them in the twentieth century and Arthur Kaplan has got this crystal ball out and joined us today to talk a little bit about where we might be headed over the next hundred years or so. If you'd like to join our conversation, give us a call here or Twin City number is Twin City area number 651-227-6065 1227 6000 outside the Twin Cities one 802-4228 or 651-227-6000 or one 800-242-2828 something slightly more a prosaic I guess but perhaps more meaningful to most people the healthcare system. Now if we could do all of these fancy manipulations will anybody be able to afford or have access to all of this great technology breakthroughs and chips in your head and people wonder you know, I got you the still has 40 million uninsured makes me somewhat skeptical that we're all going to suddenly get the moral fervor to say well equal access for all just have to be a core part of our health policy. I believe it should be the boy. We've been living with an equity for a long time. Now the gap between us and the third world is also enormous. We've got the neonatal Intensive Care Unit. running to save tiny preemies hundreds of thousands of dollars per baby when we still have people kids dying by the tens of thousands of things like diarrhea in the 3rd World, so My cynical side says it may not be available to all we may see continued class differences in our own country or between us and other nations that we don't fix. I hope we fix them in one reason. I think we might is this Play making some of these biological Revolution medical Revolution things more widely available. We might actually cut the cost to Society of dealing with a chronic illness disability aging population into the 21st century. People living longer being older will not want to be saddled with these cops. And I mean wind up saying, you know, it's just cheaper to try and use this technology to prevent problems than it is to try and allow people trying to scramble with their diseases and and failed organs after the fact that may has not succeeded in getting better access to go to the phones. I've got some callers on the line with questions for Arthur Kaplan Berry. Go ahead. I think you learned about the equity of wealth in our country and I think if you can afford the chips and the transplant, it's great, but if you can't Insurance companies putting up a big fight against it. I think there will be battles and I think what other reason to be optimistic in the face of the continued failure and it is the biggest ethical thing we have to get universal access to basic health care for at least every American that that is our big moral failure but one reason for optimism about this too is kind of odd we get this genetics Revolution going we're learning more and more about risk factors that are biology put the fat to get diseases one of the things I keep trying to tell my students here at 10 is that the genetic test is one that everybody will fail the hate to hear this cuz they think they can pass every test but everybody will be in rather that puts us a bigger risk, but hard to run in Insurance based risk-weighted system when you get more and more information on who's at risk of what there may be a political backlash because of increasing genetic knowledge that says, we've got to have Universal coverage bra because we're going to exclude too many people or at least 49% of us if we know that their entire genetic risk of premature death or premature disability, so that may drive universal healthcare forward to Is there any reason to expect that people will want to know what it is that they're going to die from a lot of optimism that genetic testing would just explode as we began to get the first generation of correlations going between genes and diseases breast cancer and cystic fibrosis probably to the better-known ones Huntington disease to happen interesting of the genetic testing situations kind of stalled and I think it's because people aren't that interested in finding out this information if there's nothing they can do about it. No cure let's say for Huntington's disease and you might even put them in a disadvantage. They could lose their insurance. They could lose their job. If somebody thinks they're going to be a high-cost risk. So without cure worse. I'm going to say no, but Into the next Century Sterling into the next millennium. We're going to get those drawers and then I think people will literally be falling over one another to get access to genetic information. So they can do something about the risk factors that let me go speculative in a different direction, you know, there's a big debate going on about genetically modified foods, and I know you've talked about that on the show in the past and most of the current fight is about is it okay to make food cheaper using genetic engineering I think in the 30 years out from this genetics Revolution, you're going to find out that you have certain risk factors and what you Natalie engineered food is going to become as a way to deliver preventive medicine to you. Maybe give you something that will help the deposits in your arteries or Supply vitamins or herbs or other substances to you. In other words food. I think it's going to become genetically engineered not to save money, but the become a kind of nutraceutical or pharmacological food thing where everybody will want it because it will make them live longer live better. So not only are cures out there's a medical type but we might actually see ourselves engineering up things to eat. That would make us healthier to based on this genetic knowledge. And hopefully they can make it taste good. Well. Is someone who is the victim of the first genetically engineer tomato, which was promised to taste better. I don't know baby, but at least said, you know, we can lower your blood pressure and we can get some of the fatty deposits in arteries and we can give you all the vitamins by eating this one stinking carrots and that that that may turn out to be a kind of different slant on genetically engineered Foods on the way. We see them that now we may be unsafe and I'll maybe they're going to do something bad to us not healthy to eat. But I suspect what the food producers in the genetic scientist will do is shift that to not only this is not bad for you. It is very good for you while this raises the question because dirty come up with these genetically modified organisms, of course is the political system. My guess is so for lack of a better term The Regulators and all the rest. Are there going to be able to keep up with all these sweeping changes that we're anticipating and in the world of science. No state legislators in what I was there, right? There were all a twisted bow Tech in the genetic Revolution. And what's up and ask them? Where are your genes blisters that but let's just take our August legislators. I think I could get the same reaction in St. Paul's I got in Harrisburg about a half of the legislators there maybe 20 of them stopped at their jeans when their gonads. Many people have said to me that makes sense given way politics is gone about a quarter of them thought their genes were their brains. I found that to be very optimistic assessment of where they might be late about a quarter knew that they were in every saw their body more or less. That's the right answer. Well, if you don't know where they are trying to figure out how to use them. There's a lot to be done to close up that legislative science Gap and I don't know that we're doing much to make that happen that ought to happen. It should be happy in the school system should be happening with religious groups getting into this debate more. We need more discussion. I think not to legislate but just sort of basic education of legislators and judges to Grapple with the stuff. But there's a there's nothing happening now at lyanna your question. I have a really important question. I'm I'm kind of an outsider looking in on this technological Revolution and I'm wondering you mentioned that Foods genetically modified foods made in the future reduce blood pressure or you may have a chip in your brain that can help you to learn a language. What is it about this scientific culture that use nature is imperfect and you need to change it occurred to me that if you have high blood pressure and you have a lot of fat in your body. Why don't you exercise and change your diet rather than change the food. It just seems like basically it logical. Why would you have a chip put in your brain to help you learn language when you have a brain so you can learn the language? What is the ultimate goal? And what is the cultural dissatisfaction with the with being a human being on the Earth? Things easier simpler and use technology to do that changing if you will their own biological capacities. We don't go many places anymore on foot we drive and we fly and these are adjuncts if he will tour Alexander Arms, we could continue to ramble around the Savannah nor people who would say and I hope that's a better way to do it then all this technologically assisted emulation. But there we are we could communicate just orally but we've got all this electronic stuff that we use on the internet to speed up communication in the biology even in today's medicine does much of the same thing. You've got people who are on crutches. Human beings seem to want to go Better Stronger Faster as much as I can. I will say everybody does but a lot of people do I do spend some time exercising myself. If you told me I could save that time just by eating some genetically engineered food and devote that time instead to staring at St. Paul Saints games or looking at the stars as they pass by or snoring. I guess I might just say, okay. Well same same end result that sweating labor. I'll go for it to have to meet might not be you but I suspect a lot of people would be attracted. You know, the French look at it and say all the Americans do is eat their meals quickly wear the home the fast food, I guess they kind of bird down. Those it done faster. We want it done cheaper. We want a ton more efficiently that seems to be the cultural Drive within us to free up more time and energy for other things. So I'm not saying it's the best way to live. Right way to live I simply here. I'm describing and thing I suspect we're going to go in those directions Mark your next. Dr. Kaplan, hey, I got a specific question. I've been dealing with this for a number of years and when you start talking about the growing of nerves and ourselves and things like Milan tissue all that sort of thing you would assume that that's in the future without a problem. But how soon do you think you'll be able to actually regenerate nerve cells in my location? And I actually have an effect on him as you see that in the near future. I do good news. I think the stem cell technology were talking about earlier using these cells that are present in embryos and have the capacity to be turned into many different kinds of cells because that's what embryos have to do to become adults that technology I think is going to be applied aggressively in nervous diseases and disorders like a mess like paralysis due to damage to spinal cord. I can people going to go there first because there hasn't been anything to offer the people like yourself, and I think that's going to be aggressively pursued. The obstacle is in two areas. When is the ethics of using cells that get produced from Human embryos that's going to be a big debate in Congress just this year. I think it will turn out that that research is allowed to go forward. It's just too promising and I think the politics will push it that way. The other obstacle is trying to figure out how to get cells to grow in large numbers reliably mass-produced that sort of thing that was an early problem in Pharmaceuticals and drugs when we had penicillin it took 10 years to figure out how to make a lot of it even though people knew it worked it took me awhile to get it industrialized happily. I think we're better at that in the 21st century. So I'm going to say 5 years 7 years something like that. I think it's not tomorrow, but it's going to happen pretty soon Arthur Caplan is our guest this our he's the director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania courts used to hold the same sensually the same job here at the University of Minnesota. He's been a frequent guest in our mid day program and he's joined us today to Take a look at what the science may be cooking up for us in the 21st century where we're headed in terms of scientific medical breakthroughs and some of the ethical questions that that may raise you like to join our conversation. Give us a call here. 651-227-6006 51227 6000 outside the Twin Cities one 800-242-2828 will get us some more colors in a couple of minutes programming on NPR is supported by Ecolab dedicated to improving cleaning and sanitation standards for leading Hospitality Healthcare and food processing customers worldwide on the weather at ecolab.com, Minnesota Public Radio. Sure, we provide great radio, but we're also online be sure to check out NPR online for current headlines. You can also connect to your favorite shows like Morning Edition and all things considered and while you're at NPR. Org be sure to look at the top 10 things to do or you can leave a note for Garrison Keillor take the sound when a college entrance exam or look up your birthday on Writer's Almanac. today with Minnesota Public Radio and NPR Online about Eddie npr.org Time now for news headlines you was going to Cunningham. Good morning. Carrie. President Clinton says, he's re nominating Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve standing alongside Greenspan at the White House Clinton said his wise and stay leadership at the FED has inspired confidence both in the United States and around the world. Greenspan has been fed chairman since 1987 playing a key role in what's going to become the nation's longest ever economic. Boom. President Clinton says, he's not disappointed that peace talks between Syria and Israel are getting off to a rocky start Secretary of State Madeleine. Albright is going to meet with negotiators from both sides to get things back on track clean. Also said the US and allies in Europe and Asia need to make a contribution to developing the regional economy of the Middle East. He did not discuss specific levels of aid negotiators from Israel and Syria are meeting in a small town in West Virginia. The Commerce department has reported today that spending on construction projects around the country. Shut up a sharp 2.6% in November. That's the biggest increase in 7. 3 months Department said the November surge was led by big increases in spending on housing commercial buildings and highways it follows three straight months of decline in construction spending and Regional news. Northwest Airlines has filed a lawsuit against the Teamster's Union alleging violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The suit is a response to an increase in the number of flight attendants calling in sick over the New Year's holiday Northwest flight attendants have gone more than three years without a new contract Union officials have urge the wrekin file not to call in sick to protest the lack of progress in contract talks almost a year ago American Airlines pilot stage the stick out which resulted in the cancellation of thousands of flights adjudge later find the union 45 million dollars the forecast for the state of Minnesota today calls for apartment. Mostly sunny skies. Statewide eyes from is zero in the Northwest 220 in the Southeast tonight. There is a chance of snow state-wise spreading from west to east Lowe's ranging from ten below zero in the Northeast. 210 above in the southwest at this hour Duluth reports cloudy skies and a tab of it's cloudy in Rochester and 12 degrees Saint Cloud reports partly sunny skies and 12 degrees and in the Twin Cities, mostly sunny skies a temperature of 17 a wind chill index of -5. That's a look at the latest news Robert Butler life expectancy longevity. There's some talk that too many people. Just a few people but many people will start living to be a hundred hundred and twenty years old the shower we're talking with Arthur Kaplan who is the director of the center for bioethics University of Pennsylvania about some of the big scientific breakthroughs. We can look for in the 21st century and R30 expect. We'll find a way to essentially stop the aging process during the 21st century. Well, just want to talk about curing aging. I think it's going to turn out to be pretty tough to do on the other hand. I think we are going to see significant lifespan extension in the 21st century. People say, what would that mean with the socially with that mean economically, you know, we've already been through that carry from the 18th century to the century. We live in about twice as long as our early 18th century four beers did on average in probably a third of a lot longer than they already been curing aging different story. I mean, I think it's going to turn out that there's a lot of things could go wrong that are genes are programmed in some sense not to carry us into 120 years 150 years plus they're all kinds of things out there that can attack us that we don't see I'm taking care of things like Jakob creutzfeldt disease, which is very rare cuz most people don't live long enough to get it. I'd like Alzheimer's disease in our generation. You start to see if you live long enough to get it. So I wouldn't look for a cure that I would look to see life span probably doubled again. Then the question becomes is that going to be with a good quality of life or is that just extending life with all kinds of ailments and woes, that's been true in the 20th century to the people who living who are living longer but don't necessarily better. So that's probably going to be the challenge for biology not just extend life but keep function up at a reasonably acceptable level your example about learning French by having a chip that could download information or prepare the structure for learning fridge hard me what might be the possibility of having a supplemental brain power that could span the loss during stroke or injury to the brain. I think we're going to see that too. I think that's a excellent question because I think that's the the driving and put us to get that French or other memory enhancement thing is going to be to repair diseases and disorders yet again, I think that right now we've seen early versions of some drugs that are out there that people try to use to enhance memory on people that have lost some cognitive function due to things like Alzheimer's disease. I think we're going to see better drugs that can secrete substances. I think we're going to see implants and we could put on our skin to secrete substances for things like parkinsonism. And then ultimately we may actually be able to replace damaged cells from stroke or injury by growing back in parts of the nervous system to raise one interesting question good for flossers like me, which is that how much of the brain can you restructure alter and still retain a sense of the same. I think most of the changes I'm talking about her still going to be relatively primitive for the next 50 to 100 years and very exciting if you have stroke or brain injury, but down the road Loomis this question of can you change a lot of a human beings brain and still retain the same person that's a little time fiction puzzle certainly shows up on Star Trek and lots of good science fiction writing. But it. I think we're going to have to actually grapple with it as a serious issue way down the road. Is there a what's the current scientific thinking and what might we expect in the future in terms of The soul and I don't necessarily mean that in the religious sense of the word, but is there is that now been discredited or do we think that there may in fact be something that we could call the soul separate from the brain and other body parts? I think those who look for human life or life itself that more significance. They can just say that the kind of special nature of what's living lies in the organization that complexity of organic matter those who are reduction is Hussain. Look there's there's nothing special about life. There's nothing mystical about you in life. There's nothing particularly special or secret even about Humanity. They tend to be the reduction. If you say we'll get the genetic code spelled out will be able to figure out what the building blocks are and will understand what life is in some sense of a formula or an algorithm. This is not Tell me we have to wait till debate. We had a paper Gary just a couple of weeks ago in the journal science about the creation of artificial life-forms. Are in a group of people here at 10 that was a group of scientist are not going to make a human but not too far off that somebody might be able to actually synthesize. I've completely new virus or bacteria. That's probably a couple years away and some of the scientists. It won't see that takes the Magical Mystery out of what life is because it's just going to turn out to be a DNA code and we argued in some of the theologians we had in our group are well, that's not quite true. It is true that we might understand the formula of DNA that would make something alive. But the actual notion of what being alive means comes from having a thing function in an organized way within an environment and that's more than just a simple DNA formula. I think that's where the metaphysical battles going to go. Catherine your question thank you for having this wonderful discussion. Excuse me. I have a bad cold today and all the discussions so far. You haven't learned some of the immune system. I happen to have an autoimmune disease not as serious as the man who had multiple sclerosis, which is I think considered an autoimmune disease as well. What's the what's the good of doing learning how to make myelin for multiple sclerosis when the immune system goes after that and tries to destroy us because it's it's got something has gone awry and then me and system and the understanding of the immune system. It seems to me is probably lagging a little in some of the things that are going on in the medical field this advisory committee on blood safety and availability. Couple times a year we meeting and iih and CDC and FDA report to us on the blood supply in a lot of the immune diseases are treated by Blood products all kinds of globulins and other things but we don't understand the immune system very well at all. You're right about that on the other hand. That's the bad news, but the good news is genetic control environmental inputs. It's not that your jeans are your complete Destiny, but there's they're pretty powerful under the control of lot of I think it's going to take awhile to figure out at that point to Things become possible. You could try to do gene therapy to go in and change certain cells that might be triggering autoimmune responses or causing diseases like lupus which is probably some kind of autoimmune disease or you might even do some genetic engineering embryos and try to fix or change those jeans. It might lead to that kind of problem for future Generations. So I think the answer is going to turn out to be strongly in this genetic Revolution to the autoimmune diseases that the good news bad news is pretty complicated systems going to take awhile to figure amount to reset your next on Heather pre-visit predisposition to being can't have to have cancer when the Clone also and in fact, that's why I don't think the things we do for making people. I think that people forget that when you clone an organism from an adult sell your Bring It On All the genetic damage that that adults has been through in any problems with that adults have had so it turns out that Dolly the sheep was cloned is showing signs of premature aging is showing signs of Health Problems because she has been made from a cell that had all the genetic damage that any adult has badly do the Aging due to exposure to background radiation and chemicals and all the rest of it. So it turns out that the best way to make a healthy humans probably not to clone 1 if you want to make a healthy pork chop, then you probably don't care how long the pig lives you can probably clone animals and get food products and then go that way if that's what you want to do. But to make people I don't think we're going to do cloning. I think what we'll do their believe it or not is genetic engineering I think cloning will be a sideshow and not very much of interest in how we reproduce ourselves and all of this is in the not-too-distant future. Well, I'd say we looked right now and how we reproduce when I get in touch with everybody pull off the road. Sperm and egg made in the dish. We start an embryo off, but we can grow that embryo, but we don't know for how long because no one's ever done the experiment. Maybe we could do it for 2 weeks or 3 weeks at the other end of the lifespan for babies. We are rescuing premature babies at 22 weeks 23 weeks in the neonatal ICU for you is basically an artificial womb at some point test tube baby technology intersects the artificial womb with a neonatal unit and I think it's going to become debating point in the 21st century is to whether we should make babies outside the human body extracorporeal is I've come to think of it or through sex and inside of uterus. I think we're going to have situations where people might elect to make embryos get a genetic test out of the embryo to see what traits they liked Ryan tweet that embryo through genetic engineering and then put it in a box literally an artificial womb at the best food in Oxygen and whatever environment to grow up in and say that's the way to make a baby. And so I think the debate that we think we've had about natural childbirth is going to look very different at some point in the 21st century. We're going to be having a natural childbirth debate this got a lot of keys and a cure for cancer is that likely I got my oncology friends tell me that cancer but it turned out to be many diseases such disease has he answered their number of different kinds of cancers and some of them seem to be more strongly genetic other seem to be acquired by exposure to pollutants are toxins or environmental things people do have breast cancer cuz they have a genetic predisposition, but you can also get breast cancer from eating fatty foods alive or smoking or living there a toxic waste site. So accurate well, I think some forms of cancer going to turn out to be curable some forms of cancer man fall so much damage to jeans and sells they can't be fixed. But I think we'll see some forms of cancer cured and I thought thought and lemons have some forms of cancer cured within the next 10 years by genetic therapy. Wow, Arthur Caplan is our guests this our director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania were talking about some of that make scientific technological breakthrough as we can expect in the 21st century Dorothy. Go ahead Place how much they ingest from all the so-called improvements that you know, fluoride and Rich flower homogenizing and hydrogenated station. I'm afraid maybe most of the human deals are the results of the mass production of human cleverness and Pepsi Aires. Right? We do certainly do a lot of engineering on our food and I can remember seeing quite a large amount of Roundup in the state of Minnesota when I live there and pesticides and substances like that are crucial to how we do a large-scale agriculture United States and Argentina Australia many Canada many parts of the world might think there may be a safety factor in a risk factor from some of that. I think that organic farming also has its own risks and some of the things involved are also toxic not good for humans, but the question then becomes if we're going to use some of the genetic technology are we going to explain it? Public debates about it. Are we going to do what industry has done so far which is to basically say it's none of your business shut up and eat it. We say it's good for you. I happen to think that genetically engineered food in the long run will turn out to be better than they chemically treated foods that we live off of her lot of us do today. But the way industry is handled the introduction of genetically engineered food is a classic textbook study of how to kick off the public frightened everybody and the arrogance is just unacceptable to say that you're not going to label genetically engineered food acceptable to say going to put it in the food chain and no one has a right to question what's going on and I say that I'm not that worried about genetically engineered foods, but the way it's been done. Are we going to find? Extraterrestrial life in the 21st century. What are the odds of that? I suspect everything I've been talking about it sort of looking inward or inside our genes into our own bodies exploring kind of the molecular makeup of who we are and our engineering and programming. I haven't said much about sort of wandering off to other places. I I think however, the two are connected in this way some of the identification of what a living thing is is going to depend upon or understand basic biology of life a little better at that than we were if we sent to Mars probe at even 25 years ago. I think we'll be able to recognize life-forms if they're out there. I don't think we're going to find anything that's talking to us are you know, hosting radio shows or running bioethics centers, but I do think we may find a virus or a virus like thing living in a in some watery mouth in the solar system, which I assume will have explored and in that sense. I think we'll have some philosophical religious challenge. Off this planet and that will you know, that's that'll cause discussion debate and controversy. I think we'll adapt to it but right I was reading somewhere where I don't somebody was speculating that if that does occur this will have his profound impact on the way. We see the world and see ourselves as the whole Copernicus thing. When I agree with that. I think he will send it down plants about we can already expected and we already know that we're probably not alone either planted. It becomes hard to say that your plan. It is quite especially that life is quite as much a gift from a Divine entity that only favored you human beings are only favor the Earth again. I think we can cope but I think it is a worldview shift on a par with Copernicus Galileo or Darwin. Where's our place in the great scheme of things map to quick question before we wrap up. Oh, yes. Chaplin. We have a fantastic new president that University Minnesota Mark yudof. He's overreacting Ariel too bad. We lost you before it came on board. I understand that. He's made himself very much present at the state fair with you. I just think a true sign of adapting to the culture technology business near the campus of you and I deal with insurance people cuz we have employees and Bubba Bubba why? And you know everything about everybody there is no more statistical basis for insurance. Yes Insurance should be a statistically based thing in the only thing it should matter should be your age or a few basic variables like that and you're pretty soon everybody pees in the bottle. They're going to know your genetic. I know everything about you which is okay fine, but then you we know what we no longer have a statistically based saying and so then the interest coming so I'll be able to say with 100% certainty to maybe within you know, 2% at least that we know when he's going to need to move to a random number system. Whereby to go either for life insurance or health insurance. You shut the hospital you don't have health insurance, which is a major problem but not for this discussion, but you get assigned insurance no matter what your health status is a random number and that random number is not tied to his genetics and at the end of the year or less say the insurance cover. Can we normalize if you will their risk pools so that you don't have one insurance company with all the AIDS patients or what about risk factors in jeans and some ways are the road to discovery of risk and reviewing that the left the case becomes for wrist rated insurance because weirdly enough of what you have with the old style Insurance systems that we use is the people trying to pool their whiskers are not sure whose it dangerous and increase risk. They were all kind of pulling together. But everybody knows all risk to wind up doing is moving toward with your calling a random number thing and I would actually just say is a kind of basic universal healthcare insurance and maybe life and disability to we should hate. It doesn't make any more sense to try and weed out this risky person. We not that risky person. We all know that this point and unless we want to condemn some people to just run insurability forever. Let's just absorb the whole lot of us. Anne Arundel thing as a 4ft system and not a risk driven system. So whoever thought that James Watson the guy who found DNA might be seen as the great emancipator for health insurance what could happen Arthur Caplan were seconds away from running out of time here, but it's lit all these scientific breakthroughs on the Horizon Science are too important to leave to the scientist. Yeah, I think so. I think that the public legislators religion should be if not eating or stopping things at least trying to guide the direction of Science and I think an educated informed public is the way to let science proceed best that I used that genetically modified food examples earlier, where's the clip I've ever seen of trying to get the benefits out of genetic knowledge is to stick it to the public in just say we know better than you just accept it and don't question. I think the public should question. I think the public should be involved. It's not that they know the science. Well enough to say will do this or do that but in the end the scientist for us, it's not the other way around and I think that's the kind of public fancy want to have great talking with you. Thanks so much. Hope you have your back soon. Again Arthur Caplan the director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania used to hold a similar job at the University of Minnesota. And fortunately I frequent guests are on our midday program 5 minutes now before 12