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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, 
uncontrolled power-fantasies."