The insatiable curiosity of many individuals. I borrow from Helga Nowotny‘s book “Insatiable Curiosity: Innovation in a Fragile Future” a most inspiring description of what curiosity really is and does. I invite you to ponder, gentle reader, the innovations this spirit could bring should a critical mass of citizens decided to explore their personal genomes just out of genuine curiosity.
Curiosity, insatiable as it is, thereby drives us forward. It seeks new paths and willingly accepts that some are wrong turns. It seeks risk, thereby repeatedly staking what it has already found and achieved. Again and again, it subverts limits that have been reached to fence them in or guide them in certain directions. It poses questions that are not permitted, and unwise as it is, it presses for action even where it should draw back. Questions instruct it and always point beyond what it is given. It speculates, tries out, and has great difficulty learning that it should consider the consequences. It can be contagious, but it can also be smothered. It is currently attempting boundary crossings in the grand style, without making a great ado but persistently and with its intrinsic matter-of-courseness. It asks about the quality of the boundary between nature and nature –namely, between “external” nature and the nature supposedly internal to the human being– and about how much more permeable indeterminate, and mixed the boundaries between nature and society can be made. What drives it is the pleasure in playing and the impulse to move beyond what already exists. It is irresponsible because it is obligated only to itself. But it is a part of us and our nature. What we do with it, what we make it into, and how we deal with it determine how we live together. It sets the limits we place on ourselves –only to transgress them anew in the future.
Given that the $0 genome will be a reality in the not too distant future, it wouldn’t seem too improbable that soon enough a critical mass of curious individuals will appear. Let the curiosity conquest for understanding personal genomes begin.