Re:virus: Creating life to save a life?

From: kharin (
Date: Mon Aug 05 2002 - 04:53:20 MDT

Goes off on deliberately provocative (and speculative) tangent...

"Second - what is wrong with designer babies? Improving the health of babies is good for them and whoever pays for medical costs. Eliminating genetic disorders and improving the intelligence of babies would be good for everyone generally. The only possible problems could be a class schism"

By and large, I would be inclined to agree. If we can ensure that children are born without diseases and conditions, so much the better. In the longer term, the same might be said of enhancing intelliegence or removing the 'criminal gene' Jonathan referred to. But I suspect that there are more issues than the class one, bearing in mind just how great the scope for designer babies is ultimately likely to be. Regarding the above, there was the case of deaf parents ensuring that their child would also be deaf (not done through genetic modification, I should observe, but it is clearly a related topic), viewing deafness as being simply indicative of minority group status rather than an impairment. Equally, some parents in the American South begin grooming their children for beauth contests from a very early age and I can certainly see the prospect of genetically engineered barbie dolls. Similarly, as genes associated with intelligence have been identified I can see disturbing possibilities; I recall John Wyndham
 noting that parents tend to have dual views on this; they want bright children but tend to feel alienated by children that are too bright. I wonder if the results might not be large numbers of children bright enough to be lawyers and doctors but a cap set above that.

That said, while I think we should be prepared for a great many similar cases, I also suspect that the most likely outcome is greater social homogenisation. As an example, if parents were given the ability to create designer babies then I think we can be certain that male homosexuality would be eradicated within two generations maxiumum (prejudiced parents are an obvious case, but I have no doubts that liberal parents would be concerned over potential discrimination and do the same).

I suspect that much of this is due to different cultural attitudes. Designer babies seem to be a cause celebre for the more gung ho strains of American libertarianism, which holds that as parents know what is best for their children they should make the decisions, not the state. Following Larkin, I tend to think that most parents screw their children up and genetics opens up a whole new way for them to do that..

This message was posted by kharin to the Virus 2002 board on Church of Virus BBS.

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