On the news this morning I heard that IBM are teaming up with Swiss scientists map the human brain cell by cell on the Blue Gene supercomputer.

In April 2003 the completion of the Human Genome Project was announced. It was billed as ‘a map of humankind… the entire print-out of DNA… the greatest scientific breakthrough for medical science… essential for the development of the bio-industry and human health.’

In June Google Earth was launched – ‘a planet’s worth of imagery and other geographic information right on your desktop’. And if you fancy ‘travelling’ further afield, you can even go to Google Moon.

We seem to live in an age obsessed with documenting our worlds both internal and external. It’s fascinating stuff, and if it helps in improving the human condition then so much the better.

But will it?

Will understanding how the brain works make us any happier? There are thousands of books about good nutrition and the importance of exercise, but there is an unprecedented epidemic of obesity.

Does understanding our DNA make us as individuals feel healthier, understand our bodies any better?

Will seeing the earth in glorious 3D (or its developed countries, anyway – ‘Coming Soon – The Third World!’) make us behave more respectfully towards our fragile planet? Will it stop me getting lost in the Wandsworth one way system?

I acknowledge these are the ill-informed and simplistic comments of an ignoramus. I am bracing myself to be shot down in flames.

But I stand by my fundamental question. We are better-informed. But are we any wiser

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