Cumplir la promesa de la genómica

VIENA – Para numerosas personas una promesa es una razón para esperar algo, una esperanza bien fundada sin exageraciones. Y es una promesa en este sentido la que vincula la ciencia con la sociedad: el público confía en que los avances científicos y tecnológicos son la clave para tener un mundo mejor, de menos incertidumbre, en el que las futuras generaciones puedan ser más felices, más sanas y vivir más.

Esta promesa nació hace cerca de 400 años, con la institucionalización de la ciencia moderna. Después de descubrir que las matemáticas se podían aplicar en el entendimiento del mundo físico, un pequeño grupo de filósofos naturales se orientó hacia el empirismo experimental con objetivos prácticos. Encabezada por esta minoría, la revolución científica arrasó en Europa y, después, en todo el mundo.

En su Instauratio Magna, Francis Bacon, uno de los proponentes más articulados de la ciencia moderna, explicó la visión de un nuevo mundo, transformado mediante la investigación sistemática de los fenómenos naturales. Declaró que mediante la imitación y manipulación de la naturaleza se revelarían sus secretos, que podrían manipularse para mejorar las vidas de los seres humanos. El objetivo pragmático de Bacon de usar el entendimiento científico de las causas naturales para “realizar todas las cosas posibles” –lo que ahora se llama innovación– fue la promesa original de la ciencia a la sociedad, y constituyó el núcleo de la  era de la Ilustración.

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