A lumbering iron-clad monster bears down on you. As the skin begins to ripple from your hand down to your elbow, insects fly out between your veins, buzzing between the cracks in the giant’s metal armour, stinging it with a thousand lethal barbs.

Bioshock’s depiction of a world where genetic scientists are unhindered by government is grim, and media on the subject in general has taken this approach.

But news that Obama has lifted a ban on federal funding of stem-cell research has been welcomed by the scientific community at large, as the action could bring huge benefits to mankind.

Doug Melton, of Harvard University stem cell institute, commented in a press statement: "It is a relief to know that we can now collaborate openly and freely with other scientists in our university and elsewhere".

The news paves the way to research that could bring huge advancements in stem cell research.

Recently, scientists have found a way that might allow for stem cells to be used to grow organs separately, without the ethical minefield of having to extract them from embryos.

The most recent breakthrough promises a way to plug the dip that is often left after breast cancer operations, according to The Guardian.

In the past, however, the media has overly stretched the idea of genetics and stem cell research to hideous extremes.

A genetic nightmare

Bioshock, a revolutionary game released, told a tale of stem-cell scientists unhindered by government.

The result is a society where there is no excuse for weakness or flaws, as one could instantly change his or hers genetic make-up to become smarter, stronger and faster, as well as achieving super-human capabilities.

The player explores the ruins of the society, based on Ayn Rand’s philosophy and novel, Atlas Shrugged, while changing his DNA to handle the elements and more.

On television, the new series by Buffy-creator Joss Whedon, Dollhouse, envisions further manipulation of genetics and the brain.

In the series, which has been met with mixed revies, "dolls" are humans rented to people who need jobs done, whether gardening or more sinister.

These dolls have their memories wiped and their skills installed, living in innocent bliss between being able killers and experienced lovers.


Perhaps detached from genetics, but still connected with life and the science of the body, is Necroville, a relatively unknown book by sci-fi novelist Ian MacDonald.

In it, MacDonald posits a world where genetics and nanotechnology have combined to make human beings effectively immortal, but the dead have to regain their freedom through slavery for the company the brings them back to life, Corporada, creating a pariah caste of the formerly-deceased.

The list of media which explores genetics is extensive, as this science is one of the most groundbreaking and potentially revolutionary.

An obvious example would be Jurassic Park, and The Fly, but mostly the subject is too complex to be depicted in movies.

The futures posited by Bioshock and Necroville are unlikely, as extra money does not necessarily entail a shedding of morals.

It is interesting, however, to bring ideas to their logical extreme, if only to see what we shouldn’t do.

Obama has set an outstanding precedent for what is, truly, a life-changing science.

Additional reporting by Ian Maskery

Photo by Alberto Furlan
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Dark predictions of stem cell science

By Alberto Furlan