Science is making it easier and easier to change who what – or our kids – look like. Genetic engineering, modifying genes for the better could be as important to this century as vaccines were to the last.
How far will the trend go?
Should we make designer babies?
The fear is that germ-line engineering is a path toward a dystopia of superpeople and designer babies for those who can afford it. Want a child with blue eyes and blond hair? Why not design a highly intelligent group of people who could be tomorrow’s leaders and scientists?
It’s the stuff we’ve always talked about but never had the opportunity to do.
Children made to order
Creating designer babies who are free from disease and super athletic or smart may finally be around the corner. And there’s no stopping it.
There are pros and cons to designing ones baby, to a parent the pros outweigh the cons because you can decide to make your child immune to diseases. That is the main draw about genetic modification via CRISPR-Cas9, and a big motivation for partners.
And as the science advances parents might not even need to mate in the future either, though I doubt adults will go for that, because all you’ll need is to provide some cells to your doctor.
Give up parenting?
To upgrade is human, and one of the main concerns behind genetic engineering is that partners design the identity of their child; in essence there is a loss of individuality for the unborn child.
Human enhancement ultimately would make people “stronger, smarter, faster, saner, better rested, and more adaptable.”
At what cost do we want this? Are we willing to decide our unborn children’s fate without their input?
Our discussion focused on the following questions:
- Should parents be able to select their children’s talents and personalities?
- Should we allow designer babies? Why?
- Who decides how people ought to be?
- What if these improvements were available only to the richest societies, or the richest people?
- Who’s responsible for making decisions about designer babies? Should we set limits on how to enhance ourselves?
What do you think, would you modify the personality and appearance of your unborn child?
The Big Bang is a weekly podcast. Tune in every Tuesday for more discussions on what’s possible.
Intro audio is by Arturo Arriaga, outro audio is Candyland by Guy J.