Should We Bring Extinct Animals Back To Life?

Non-Obvious Story of the Week from Rohit Bhargava

Humanity may be close to having the power to bring back extinct species. They are calling it “de-extinction” and the company behind the effort, Colossal Biosciences, is known for speaking ambitiously about solving the “colossal” problem of extinction by bringing back animals such as the Wooly Mammoth within 5 years. 

Of course, the natural Jurassic Parkian question to ask is whether this type of manipulation of the natural world should even be attempted. The arguments to do it, though, seem concerningly logical. The Tasmanian ecosystem has lacked an apex predator since the Tasmanian Tiger (also called the Tasmanian Wolf) died out. Bringing it back would be a natural way to rebalance the ecosystem – a relevant question particularly this week with the news that the beloved Chinese Dugong is now officially extinct. Unlike the dinosaurs, its extinction could also be attributed to human causes, which offers another reason why bringing it back would simply be a correction in nature.

The challenge, as with most technology dilemmas like this, is not about the science or the logic behind them. Instead, the biggest problem remains that the people and companies with the power to do these things are rarely ethical enough to be trusted with the responsibility of doing it.