Imagine it’s 2045. You start hearing rumors about a mysterious corporation about its infamous friends, based on an unknown island, offering an unprecedented service: the ability to genetically design their child.
Baby. You have some genetics and some genetics from the sperm or egg donor you choose. But the rest of your child’s genetic profile will be engineered by science. These changes will make it impossible for your child to develop genetic diseases. They will allow you to adapt your child to dozens of symptoms including intelligence level, emotional temperament, sexual orientation, height, skin tone, hair color and eye color for certain symptoms.
This raises uncertain philosophical questions for some customers. “When does my child stop being my child?” They ask corporate representatives. These careful customers are reminded how risky it is to breed in an old fashioned way. The motto of The Better Genetics Corporation states: “Only God plays the dice – not humans.”
It is described in a new science-fiction series called Eugene Clarke
There, corporate executives go through the process of designing a child – an experience that feels like an involuntary mix between going to a doctor and designing a luxury car. The series is told from several perspectives, serving as a deep dive into a complex moral web that today’s scientists can already weave.
[T]He said that the introduction of designer children would create a maze of philosophical dilemmas that society is only beginning to explore.
Case in point: In 2018, Chinese scientist He Jianqui announced that he had helped create the world’s first genetically engineered babies. Using the gene-editing tool CRISPR on the fetus, he had Jiankui CCR2 Modified a gene called HIV, which enables HIV to enter and infect cells of the immune system. Their goal was to engineer children who were immune to the virus.
It is not clear whether he succeeded. But it is certain that this experiment shook the international scientific community, who generally agreed that it is unethical to conduct gene-editing processes on humans, given that scientists do not yet fully understand the results.
“This experiment is monstrous,” said Julian Savalscu, professor of applied ethics at Oxford University Guardian . “Embryos were healthy. There was no known disease. Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, which are capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including cancer development.”
Crucially, he Jiankui was not treating a disease to prevent future contractions of a virus, but genetically engineering infants. These types of changes are extant, meaning that experimentation can have major negative effects on future generations. Therefore, even a designer-baby industry, even if scientists can do it safely.
With major implications on our concepts of inequality, discrimination, sexuality, and life, the introduction of designer babies will yield one. The labyrinth of philosophical dilemmas that society is only beginning to explore.
Tribalism and discrimination
One question explores the “genetic pressure” series: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer children get older, they may differ from other people, possibly being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This can cause outrage between groups – as in the series.
“[Designer babies] Gradually find that ‘everyone,’ and even their own parents, become less and less tolerant, “author Eugene Clarke told Big Think.” Meanwhile, everyone gradually feels threatened by designer babies. “
For example, a character in the series who was born a designer child faces discrimination and harassment from “normal people” – he calls her “memory” and says that she is “in a factory, “A” consumer product. ” is.
Will such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on which designer is able to afford the baby services. If it is only ultra-rich, then it is easy to imagine how the designer child can be seen as a society? Such hyper-privilege, which would have to be assumed with designer babies.
Even though people of all socioeconomic backgrounds may someday buy designer children, born designer children can face tough survival questions: they can ever take full credit for the things they acquire, Or were they born with an inappropriate ipara ge? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate?
Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If someday a designer baby industry allows people to adapt to humans for attraction, designer kids can grow up to find themselves surrounded by super-attractive people. This may not sound like a major problem.
But consider that, if someday designer children become the standard way to produce children, there will necessarily be a long gap of one year in which only a few people are designer children. Meanwhile, the rest of the society will be old fashioned for children. Therefore, in terms of attractiveness, society may see increasing disparities in physical appearance between the two groups. “Ordinary people” are beginning to look increasingly ugly.
But the very attractive people who were producing designer children may also face problems. A loss of body image can occur.
When designer children grow up in the “genetic pressure” series, men look like all other men, and women look like all other women. This uniformity of physical appearance occurs because the parents of designer children begin to follow the trend, all choosing the same traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc.
Sure, facial features remain relatively unique, but everyone is more or less equally attractive. And it causes strange changes in sexual preferences.
“In a sexually equal society, they start looking for other differentiators,” he said, noting that purple eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find particularly attractive in the series.
But what about sexual relations between genetically engineered humans and “normal” people? In the “genetic pressure” series, many “normal” people want to have children with genetically engineered humans (or at least have sex). But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with “normal” people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme.
Regulation of designer babies
At the policy level, there are many open questions about how governments can legislate a world with designer babies. But this is not an entirely new field, given the black history of the West of eugenics experiments.
In the 20th century, the US organized several eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilization. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that the forcible distribution of the mentally challenged was not a violation of the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, “… three generations of imbalis are enough.”
After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the US (although some states continued forcible sterilization in the 1970s ). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technology can recapture epoch nightmares of the 20th century.
Currently, the US does not explicitly ban the human germ genetic editing at the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively renders it Illegal to implant a genetically modified fetus . The reason for this is that scientists are still not sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing techniques.
But there are also concerns that these technologies may usher in a new era of epoch-making science. After all, the task of a designer baby industry, like the one in the “genetic pressure” series, is not necessarily limited to eliminating genetic diseases; It may also serve to increase the occurrence of “desirable” symptoms.
If the industry did this, it would effectively indicate that The opposite of those symptoms are undesirable. As International Bioethics Committee Wrote , It would “endanger the inherent and equal dignity of all humans and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the desire for a better, better life.”
By Eugene Clarke “Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps currently available. >