Freeman Dyson's piece seems like pure madness to me. It is obviously written
by someone who has no concept of biology. Plants based on silicon rather
than chlorophyll? Come on.
Since Dyson is a physicist, he might more productively turn his efforts to
weakening the charge of the proton so that we can produce electricity at
lower cost, or re-engineering the gravitational constant so that we don't
expend so much energy transporting cargo. These proposals make about as
much sense as his.
And wouldn't be just a little cruel to have children and other free agents
tinkering with the genomes of animals so as to produce dysmorphic and
deranged living toys?
Dyson has been at this for almost 20 years. The British philosopher of biology
Mary Midgley raked him over the coals (along with some Left icons such as JBS
Haldane and JD Bernal) in the excellent "Science as Salvation" (Routledge,
1992) for what she calls "quasi-scientific dreams and prophesies" involving
visions of escape from the constraints of biology, coupled with "self-indulgent,