In the second of a series of bi-monthly comment pieces for Investigative Genetics, Professor Mark Jobling (pictured) of the University of Leicester humorously reflects on the evolution of genetic research since the days of his own studies. Whilst acknowledging the technological advances that have accelerated genetic research in recent years, he laments what he sees as a decline in the technical competence of younger scientists. He expresses concern that the tricky manual experiments, which characterised his doctoral research and early career, are now largely the remit of increasingly sophisticated machines, or cheaply-outsourced labourers. He argues that competency in technically-demanding manual tasks is an essential component of scientific formation, and worries that their abandonment will render junior scientists more passive, and more dependent. This, in his view, makes genetic research far less interesting and challenging that it can be, and indeed, than it once was.