This gene technology could change the world. Its maker isn’t sure it should.

By Shayla Love

There’s a chilling calculation that’s simple enough to solve on the back of an envelope: How many children’s lives will Kevin Esvelt personally be responsible for if he makes one mistake on the job?

Depending on the variables, the final figure could be between 25,000 and 2.5 million. Even the lower end of that range is horrifying. “Just imagine 25,000 dead children. It’s nearly impossible. That’s like a third of the children in Boston,” Esvelt said, gesturing out his window at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Because I said the wrong thing. Because I failed to think about the consequences of my actions.”

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