Ingenuity without compassion, ethics and responsibility is very dangerous as we already know. Scientists must consider carefully the potential implications of their work. Pursuing curiosity is one thing but doing things just because we are curious or because they are possible can, and often does have terrible consequences.
This article talks about genetically engineered babies. But this is a wider problem. Scientists collude and actively contribute to the development of destructive military technology. Without science and technology no modern genocide would be possible. Academics and highly educated people including scientists have not just colluded but directly enabled crimes against humanity. I consider war to be a crime against humanity in addition to all the obvious.
If all scientists were well developed human beings with more reliable empathy, compassion, ethics and morality, none of them would help develop anything that is clearly aimed at killing and destroying. Problem is that scientists, like the rest of us, also have brains that are insufficiently integrated. It means that their executive functions (empathy, compassion, concern for others, understanding and caring about the consequences of their actions and choices, to name but a few) are often unreliable.
We all flipflop between our limbic functions and our executive functions and it can make us dangerous. We might do things that we then regret them, but it could be too little, too late and the damage might be already done (e.g. The Manhattan Project). Once the damage is done, it can be impossible to undo it. I want to see all scientists learning to integrate their brains right at the beginning of their science training or even right back in high school where this should begin for everyone, if it hadn’t already begun in the family of origin. (If you don’t know what I am talking about have a look at my booklet on relationships. It’s all explained there and it is not science fiction. It is science…)
“A fundamental goal of the scientific endeavour is to advance society through knowledge and innovation. As scientists, we strive to cure disease, improve environmental health and understand our place in the Universe. And yet the dominant values ingrained in scientists centre on the virtues of independence, ambition and objectivity. That is a grossly inadequate set of skills with which to support a mission of advancing society.”
“Decisions about how and whether this technology should be used will require an expanded set of scientific virtues: compassion to ensure its applications are designed to be just, humility to ensure its risks are heeded and altruism to ensure its benefits are equitably distributed.”