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生物技术的世纪

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  [1]Ring farewell to the century of physics, the one in which we split the atom and turned silicon into computing power. It’s time to ring in the century of biotechnology. Just as the discovery of the electron in 1897 was seminal event for the 20th century, the seeds for the 21st century were spawned in 1953, when James Watson blurted out to Francis Crick how four nuclei acids could pair to form the self-copying code of a DNA molecule. Now we’re just a few years away from one of the most important breakthroughs of all time: deciphering the human genome, the 100,000 genes encoded by 3 billion chemical pairs in our DNA.
 
  [1]让我们告别物理学的世纪吧!在这个世纪里,我们分裂了原子,为硅赋予了计算 的功能。我们到了迎接生物技术世纪的时候。1897年电子的发现为20世纪(物理学的 世纪)奠定了基础,1953年己经为21世纪(生物技术的世纪)播下了种子,当年詹姆 斯?华生向弗朗西斯?克里克脱口说出了四个核酸如何能够配对而形成一个脱氧核糖核 酸(DNA)分子的自行复制编码。再过几年我们会实现历史上一个最重要的突破:解译 人类的基因组--我们的DNA中用30亿个化学配对进行编码的10万个基因。
 
  [2]Before this century, medicine consisted mainly of amputation saws, morphine and crude remedies that were about as effective as bloodletting. The flu epidemic of 1918 killed as many people (more than 20 million) in just a few months as perished in four years of World War I. Since then, antibiotics and vaccines have allowed us to vanquish entire classes of diseases. As a result, life expectancy in the U. S. jumped from about 47 years at the beginning of the century to 76 now.
 
  [2]在本世纪以前,医疗技术主要是由截肢用锯、吗啡以及类似放血这样有效的原始 疗法所组成的。1918年,在短短几个月时间里,因患流行性感冒而致死的人和在第一次 世界大战四年中丧生的人一样多(超过两千万人)。自那以后,抗生素和疫苗帮助我们征 服了各类疾病。结果,美国人的预期寿命从本世纪初的约47岁一下猛升到现在的76岁。
 
  [3]But 20th century medicine did little to increase the natural life-span of healthy humans. The next medical revolution will change that, because genetic engineering has the potential to conquer cancer, grow new blood vessels in the heart, block the growth of blood vessels in tumors, create new organs from stem cells and perhaps even reset the primeval genetic coding that causes cells to age.
 
  [3]但是,20世纪的医学在延长健康人的自然寿命方面没有什么进展;下一次医学 革命将会改变这种状况,因为遗传工程有可能征服癌症,在心脏里培植新的血管,阻断肿瘤中血管的生长,从干细胞中选出新的器官,甚至可能重组使细胞衰老的原始遗传 编码。
 
  [4]Our children maybe able (I hope, I fear) to choose their kids traits: to select their gender and eye color: perhaps to tinker with their IQs, personalities and athletic abilities. They could clone themselves, or one of their kids, or a celebrity they admire, or maybe even us after we’ve died.
 
  [4]我们的子女也许能够(我希望这样,但我也害怕这样),选择他们子女的特征: 选择他们的性别和眼睛的颜色:也许还能够调整他们的智商、个性和运动能力。他们能 克隆自己,克隆一个自己的孩子,或者克隆一个自己仰慕的名人,甚至可能在我们去世 后克隆出我们。
 
  [5]In the 5 million years since we hominids separated from apes, our DNA has evolved less than 2%. But in the next century we’ll be able to alter our DNA radically, encoding our visions and vanities while concocting new life-forms. When Dr. Frankenstein made his monster, he wrestled with the moral issue of whether he should allow it to reproduce: “Had I the right, for my own benefit, to inflict the curse upon everlasting generation?” Will such questions require us to develop new moral philosophies?
 
  [5]在人类从猿进化为人之后的五百万年中,我们的DNA只进化了不到2%。但在 下个世纪,我们将能从根本上改变我们的DNA,即在制造新的生命形式时对自己的理智 和情感进行编码。弗兰肯斯坦博士造出他的怪物时,他曾就是否应该允许它繁殖生育而 深思这样一个道德问题:“我有权利为我自己的利益而降祸于子孙后代吗?”这样的问题 是否要求我们发展新的道德哲学?
 
  [6]Probably not. Instead, we’ll reach again for a time-tested moral notion, one sometimes called the Golden Rule and which Immanuel Kant, the millenium’s most meticulous moralist, gussied up into a categorical imperative: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; treat each person as an individual rather than as a means to some end.
 
  [6]可能还不是。相反,我们将重温一个历经考验的道德观念问题,它有时被称作“黄 金法则”,而且,一千年来最严谨的道德主义者--伊曼努尔?康德将其美化成一个“绝 对命令”:己所不欲,勿施于人:要把每个人作为个体对待,而不是作为达到某种目的的手段。
 
  [7]Under this moral precept we should recoil at human cloning, because it inevitably entails using humans as means to other human’s ends-valuing them as copies of others we loved or as collections of body parts, not as individuals in their own right. We should also draw a line, however fuzzy, that would permit using genetic engineering to care died and disabilities but not to change the personal attributes that make someone an individual (IQ, Physical appearance, gender and sexuality).
 
  [7]在这一道德准则下,我们应该摒弃人类的克隆技术,因为它不可避免地会使一些 人成为达到另外一些人目标的手段--这些人的价值只体现在他们是我们喜爱的人的复 制品或是许多身体部件的组合上,而不在于他们是有自身权利的个体。不管多么模糊, 我们还应划一个界限,在这个范围内遗传工程可被用来治疗疾病和弥补缺陷,而不是用 来改变决定一个人成为个体的个人特性(智商、身体特征、性别和性征)。
 
  [8]The biotech age will also give us more reason to guard our privacy. Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World, got it wrong: rather than centralizing power in the hands of the state, DNA technology has empowered individuals and families. But the state will have an important role, making sure that no one, including insurance companies, can look at our genetic data without our permission or use it to discriminate against us.
 
  [8]生物技术的时代将给我们更充分的理由来保护个人隐私。奥尔德?斯赫胥黎在 《美妙的新世界》一书中犯了一个错误:他把DNA技术授权给了个体和家庭,而没有把 权力集中于国家手中。但是(事实上)国家将起到很重要的作用,那就是保证包括保险 公司在内的任何人,没有我们的允许不能看到我们的遗传数据或利用它来歧视我们。
 
  [9]Then we can get ready for the breakthrough that could come at the end of the next century and is comparable to mapping our genes: plotting the 10 billion or more neurons of our brain. With that information we might someday be able to create artificial intelligences that think and experience consciousness in ways that are indistinguishable from a human brain. Eventually we might be able to replicate our own minds in a machine, so that we could live on without the “wetware” of biological brain and body. The 20th century’s revolution in infotechnology will thereby merge with the 21st century’s revolution in biotechnology.
 
  [9]那么我们可以迎接可能于下世纪末出现的生物技术的突破,这一技术突破可与描 绘基因相媲美:标记出我们大脑中的100亿甚至更多的神经源。应用这些信息,我们有 朝一日可能创造出人工智能,它们的思维和经验意识方式与人脑没有什么区别。最终我 们可能在一台机器里复制出我们自己的头脑,这样的话,我们就能够不依赖生物大脑和 人体这样的“湿件"而活着。20世纪信息技术的革命将由此同21世纪的生物技术革命 融为一体。
 
  [10]But this is science fiction. Let’s turn the page now and get back to real science.
 
  [10]当然这只是科学幻想。现在还是让我们回到现实科学中来吧。
 
  
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