The redoubtable Freeman Dyson goes on Disturbing The Universe:
"Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century. Biology is also more important than physics, as measured by its economic consequences, by its ethical implications, or by its effects on human welfare.
These facts raise an interesting question. Will the domestication of high technology, which we have seen marching from triumph to triumph with the advent of personal computers and GPS receivers and digital cameras, soon be extended from physical technology to biotechnology? I believe that the answer to this question is yes.
I predict that the domestication of biotechnology will dominate our lives during the next fifty years at least as much as the domestication of computers has dominated our lives during the previous fifty years.
I see a close analogy between John von Neumann's blinkered vision of computers as large centralized facilities and the public perception of genetic engineering today as an activity of large pharmaceutical and agribusiness corporations...
I see a bright future for the biotechnology industry when it follows the path of the computer industry, the path that von Neumann failed to foresee, becoming small and domesticated rather than big and centralized...Designing genomes will be a personal thing, a new art form as creative as painting or sculpture...Few of the new creations will be masterpieces, but a great many will bring joy to their creators and variety to our fauna and flora. The final step in the domestication of biotechnology will be biotech games, designed like computer games... Playing such ...games will be messy and possibly dangerous.
If domestication of biotechnology is the wave of the future, five important questions need to be answered. First, can it be stopped? Second, ought it to be stopped? Third, if stopping it is either impossible or undesirable, what are the appropriate limits that our society must impose on it? Fourth, how should the limits be decided? Fifth, how should the limits be enforced... I leave it to our children and grandchildren to supply the answers.