The human genome is the key to what makes us human. Composed of the many different genes found in our cells, it defines our possibilities and limitations as members of the species. The ultimate goal of the pioneering project outlined in this book is to map our genome in detail—an achievement that will revolutionize our understanding of human development and the expression of both our normal traits and our abnormal characteristics, such as disease. The Code of Codes is a collective exploration of the substance and possible consequences of this project in relation to ethics, law, and society as well as to science, technology, and medicine.
The many debates on the Human Genome Project are prompted in part by its extraordinary cost, which has raised questions about whether it represents the invasion of biology by the kind of Big Science symbolized by high-energy accelerators. While addressing these matters, this book recognizes that far more than money is at stake. Its intent is not to advance naive paeans for the project but to stimulate thought about the serious issues—scientific, social, and ethical—that it provokes. The Code of Codes comprises incisive essays by stellar figures in a variety of fields, including James D. Watson and Walter Gilbert and the social analysts of science Dorothy Nelkin and Evelyn Fox Keller. An authoritative review of the scientific underpinnings of the project is provided by Horace Freeland Judson, author of the bestselling Eighth Day of Creation.
The book’s broad and balanced coverage and the expertise of its contributors make The Code of Codes the most comprehensive and compelling exploration available on this history-making project.