Michael Bess is a historian of science at Vanderbilt University and the author of Our Grandchildren Redesigned: Life in a Bioengineered Society. His book offers a sweeping look at our genetically modified future, a future as terrifying as it is promising. But he’s also someone who thinks a lot about the broader relationship between technology and society.
The role that technology plays in human life is becoming an increasingly urgent question. Big tech companies like Facebook and Twitter are under fire for their role in spreading fake news and misinformation during the 2016 presidential election. But the impact of social media will likely pale in comparison to potential revolutions in artificial intelligence or gene editing technologies.
I reached out to Bess to talk about our technological future and why he thinks we’re not asking the sorts of questions we should be asking about where we’re headed and what it will mean for humanity.
A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.