The discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practice it.

Plato, Phaedrus, ~370 B.C.

Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1818.

There is grandeur in this view of life... that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859

The idea is now hovering before me that man himself can act as a creator, even in living nature, forming it eventually to his will. Man can at last succeed in a technology of living substance.

Jacques Loeb, 1890

We must shake at the gates of life, test the bolts and hinges.

Filipo Tommaso Marinetti, The Futurist Manifesto, 1909

If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1953

We are as gods and might as well get good at it.

Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalogue, 1968

What I cannot create, I do not understand.

Richard Feynman, 1988

The same science that may cure some of our worst diseases could be used to create the world’s most frightening weapons.

CIA Office of Transnational Issues, “The Darker Bioweapons Future,” 2003

As creative as we become, and as industrious and as good as we are at designing and manufacturing living things, which we've been doing since the stone age - no matter how good we get at that, it's like calling a candle a supernova. A candle is not a super nova; it's not even in the same league. And we, as intelligent designers, are not in the same league as the "Intelligent Design" forces that started the whole shebang. We're not designing sub-atomic particles from scratch; we're not designing galaxies. We're really not even designing the basic idea of life; we're just manipulating it.

George Church, EDGE, 2006

This is going to mean as much for humankind in the next century as the domestication of plants and animals in improving the condition of humankind. This is an historic set of changes.

Major Kernel Jeffrey Boore, Genomics: Where Have We Come and Where Are We Going?, 2009

We’re anything but Godlike. I think the challenges are so overwhelming to all of us that we’re all trying to just use whatever new tools we can to try and change the future.

J. Craig Venter

What drives synthetic biology is not an attempt to save the planet or help humanity but an attempt to increase the bottom line for certain very large corporations.

Jim Thomas, ECT Group