Reversed Aging, Pig Organs, and the Future of Humankind

Reversed Aging, Pig Organs, and the Future of Humankind

For a man playing God, George Church certainly looks the part. Over the past 45 years, the Harvard geneticist and his bushy white beard have published hundreds of papers and earned dozens of patents expanding our ability to read, write, and edit DNA, the code of life. He was among the first to apply the gene editing tool CRISPR to mammalian cells (he tied with his former postdoc). Church and his eclectic lab have pushed bioengineering in multiple directions, showing how it can be used to resurrect mammoths, eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitos, produce atmosphere-cleansing bacteria, and even detect bits of dark matter pelting us from space. He once stored 70 billion copies of his book, Regenesis, in a drop of DNA the size of a period after translating it into the As, Ts, Cs, and Gs of DNA’s double helix. But we wanted to talk with Church about the future of humanity, and to that end, he mused on pig organs, dating apps, brains in a dish, and artificial intelligence.