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The Age of Genetic Wonder: Juan Enriquez (Full Transcript)

Juan Enriquez

Juan Enriquez – TED Talk TRANSCRIPT

So let me start with Roy Amara.

Roy’s argument is that most new technologies tend to be overestimated in their impact to begin with, and then they get underestimated in the long term because we get used to them.

These really are days of miracle and wonder. You remember that wonderful song by Paul Simon? There were two lines in it.

So what was it that was considered miraculous back then?

Slowing down things — slow motion — and the long-distance call. Because, of course, you used to get interrupted by operators who’d tell you, “Long distance calling. Do you want to hang up?” And now we think nothing of calling all over the world.

Well, something similar may be happening with reading and programming life.

But before I unpack that, let’s just talk about telescopes. Telescopes were overestimated originally in their impact. This is one of Galileo’s early models. People thought it was just going to ruin all religion.

So we’re not paying that much attention to telescopes. But, of course, telescopes launched 10 years ago, as you just heard, could take this Volkswagen, fly it to the moon, and you could see the lights on that Volkswagen light up on the moon.

And that’s the kind of resolution power that allowed you to see little specks of dust floating around distant suns. Imagine for a second that this was a sun a billion light years away, and you had a little speck of dust that came in front of it. That’s what detecting an exoplanet is like.

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