21st Century Digital Boy? It was Ironic! Ironic!

The band Bad Religion has appeared on Shopfloor now and then, and, come to think of it, on Thursday. They’re loud, fast, tuneful, multisyllabic and pay attention to technology. What’s not to like?

Now the band’s lead singer, Greg Graffin, is in Scientific American, the subject of Q&A reacting to his new book, “Anarchy Evolution.” Graffin has a doctorate from Cornell and is a lecturer in life sciences and paleontology at UCLA.
We’ll eschew comment on his theological arguments, but his observations about technology and industry are right on:

Obviously, you are pro-evolution and pro-nature, but are you anti-technology? Your most famous song is “21st Century Digital Boy,*” which pokes fun at our gadget-laden era.
Oh no, we love technology and gadgets. We use irony in 60 percent of our music. “21st Century Digital Boy” is an ironic twist characterizing the youth of today. The truth is that even though the song was written in 1990, it was clear that the youth were going to be affected for good and bad by digital technology. It’s probably because we loved video games so much.

What do you make of synthetic biology? Will we have 22nd-century bio-boys?
The greatest gifts of the genetic revolution are the applications for industry. The types of things we can do with manipulating genes, inserting them into cells. That’s just the beginning, I think. Theoretically, the guys who are really good at programming video games, who are already writing code all day, could be creating organisms in the future. It could be a whole family of code writers. “Dad worked for EA Games, but I work for Genentech.” This is something that is conceivable, it’s an exciting time.

Anything that’s fraught with as much danger as potential for good makes for an exciting time. That stuff is dangerous as well.

Graffin goes on to talk about gene therapy in an intelligent way.

We really admire Graffin and Bad Religion’s ability to breed new ideas and songs from the old. “Pride and the Pallor” off the new CD, “Dissent of Man,” was grown directly from The Only Ones’ 1978 classic, “Another Girls, Another Planet.” Really.

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