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Charles Kuralt

A Life On the Road

I'm still interested, as I was when I was 10 or 11 years old in this thing that so much interested my father, injustices in society and the unfairness that still exists. I mean, that a country so rich that it can reach out and touch the stars and send people to the moon still has hundreds of thousands of its citizens who can't read and who really haven't any way of making a way for themselves in society. That's terribly troubling to me. In recent years, since my retirement, I've spent a lot of time trying to be of help to the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina, my father's old school because I realize, and I now have time to do something about it, that a society like this just can't afford an uneducated underclass of citizens. We just can't afford it.
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Charles Kuralt

A Life On the Road

I'm not any kind of social reformer myself, but looking back on it, I'm much prouder of my father and what he did, mostly quietly, than I am of anything I have ever done because what he did was back in the '40s, before anybody else had the idea, he started day care centers for the children of poor women. He sold it to the local government on the basis of getting these welfare mothers back to work. Well, what he really had in mind was giving those children a chance by educating them a little bit, giving them a head start, as it is now called.
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Ray Kurzweil

Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence

I think we have no choice but to proceed. I mean, there have been calls recently -- and there have, actually, ever since the Luddite movement emerged in the English textile industry two centuries ago -- calls for relinquishing technology that is just too dangerous. I think we have no choice, because there's a great economic imperative to move forward, and it's a road paved with gold, and we have received tremendous benefit from technology. Short of creating a totalitarian system that would ban any form of economic incentive, we're going to be advancing technology. I think the right way to deal with it is to be very concerned with the ethical dimension and with the application of technology, and I think it's not something that's done in one field of technology ethics. I think it's something that everybody, and not just the technologist, needs to be actively concerned with, because we have the power to actually create our future world, very literally, including really redesigning our bodies and brains and our experiences at very profound levels. So it's something that everybody needs to understand, and contribute to that dialogue so that we do advance our human values. Not that we have a consensus on what those are, but I think there is, at least at some levels, emerging consensus on what human values are.
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Eric Lander

Founding Director, Broad Institute

There is currently a whole hullabaloo about competing to try to produce a rough draft of the human genome sequence within the next year or so, and I think that's a fine thing to go after. I think some of it has to do with competition with private industry, and all sorts of things. In point of fact, the real project is -- over the next three years or so -- to produce a high-quality sequence that can be used as the foundation stone for genetics in the next century, and I think it's certain that that will happen. Minor details of competition aside -- and claims from these groups and those groups -- it is so clear already, the tools are in place that we will have this foundation and we will have it in a publicly available way. I feel very strongly, as a member of the Genome Project, that this information should all be completely available to the general public. So at our Genome Center, we always followed a policy of data release before publication. We would put all the maps we built on our computer, on our web site, long before publication. And this policy, in fact, has been adopted rather broadly across the Genome Project. With an improvement in computer tools, we post our data every 24 hours. Whatever we have done in the last day is up on the computer the next day.
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Eric Lander

Founding Director, Broad Institute

We also deposit our data into the national databases, and for many purposes it's more convenient to hit them there, but the intermediate forms of our data are on our web site. We get an awful lot of hits, because people are very interested in these data. We deposit it without intellectual property protection, no patents on it. I'm in favor of patenting things of use. I'm all in favor of patenting genes that can be used as therapeutics, but I think that biomedical research and the general public will be ill-served by patents willy-nilly on pieces of DNA here and there. I think they'll serve as a great impediment and disincentive to researchers who have to do the hard job of turning genes into therapies. So we deposit our data without any sort of patents, any sort of restrictions, and one way or the other, whatever happens in the private sector, whatever private databases are made, whatever patents are put on things, there will be a completely, totally, publicly available version of the human genome on the web in the next couple of years for anybody to download.
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