Commercializing children doesn't seem right, but then should the technology be held back and children be damned to suffer for the sake of keeping the status quo? Is there a just way to deal with this?
We don't have a clue how to edit DNA to make people smarter or taller or stronger. And there's no sign that we're going to get to that knowledge sometime this century.
Furthermore, what we do know about our genome and our proteome strongly suggests that lots of stuff are doing double-duty. The gene that causes sickle cell anemia also provides antimalarial resistance. That makes the argument for changing DNA one way or the other much more difficult to make.
And, furthermore, even applying CRISPR to human cells is still not exactly successful yet. Of the two CRISPR babies, one was mosaic (i.e., the edits didn't reach all the cells) and the other was heterozygous (i.e., didn't reach both copies of DNA), and neither actually contained the desired deletion. So all the ethics violations were in pursuit of a project that would have scored at best a C (just to underscore how much of a monster He was).
For us to fine tune inteligence or strength, we need to be able to predict lots and lots of layers of emerging properties. Or simply to find ways to run the game many, many times. We can't run the game by experimenting with babies. Will we be able to run the game on a computer? I'm not holding my breath on this one.
We seem to be good at coming up with approximations and ways to exert selection pressure.. but when we let our digital approximations go analog/realware, the results are difficult to use... http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.50....
I can certainly see the case for fixing genetic defects, though as the sickly cell/malaria example shows, that's not always clear cut either. And even if you just fight genetic defects, if it's only available to the rich, it's going to create a genetic class system where the rich literally have better genes than the poor. I shudder to think what that might do to a society.
iterated embryo selection for those traits is at most 10-15 years away, though i suspect much closer
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Whether or not humans are responsible to equip technology is not really a concern to people who are advancing science, and maybe it shouldn't be.
The movie Gattaca explored this a bit. People in the film are heavily defined by their engineering. They might not BE just engineered, but being superior, or inferior is all encompassing. It becomes all they are.
In the film it is a bit of a curse even for the best. Jerome failed (got a silver medal) at something and can't recover. His medal only turns to gold at the very end.
It's been a while since I've seen the movie but the protagonist didn't prove that the gene scanner could fail. He just cheated his way through it by using a health person's DNA evidence.
In fact, the final(?) scene of the movie proved the exact opposite of your claim. Again, it's been a while, but I believe the protagonist was just about to board the rocket when he was surprised by one final DNA scan and as he didn't expect it to be there he knew he couldn't cheat through it. It was heavily implied, if not told to us, that the person who operated the scanner saw the scan report and should have turned him away if he followed protocol, but he let the protagonist through anyway. I wanna say the scanner person quipped about how the protagonist must have been qualified if he could go through the training program with his non-GMO'd genes.
The movie isn't about a surveillance state. It was about a hypothetical future where nobody was conceived naturally anymore. Everybody was conceived with pre-selected genes which I imagine improved physical and mental prowess while also eliminating deadly diseases and defects. The protagonist was naturally conceived and as a consequence he had eyesight problems and I want to say asthma as well. I had the impression that they didn't want to accept astronauts with say asthma because they would rather just not have to deal with that problem to begin with.
He wasn't a bit character.
Now imagine the generational gap if the youth is 20% smarter than their parents.
I'd rather wait for 5-10 years to make sure I don't make a lifelong mistake.
The worst part of this is that it may not safe. If this introduced some flaws in the babies gene, how to control this, don't allow them have babies?
Yes, kids with rich parents are already at advantage - just wait to see what genetic superiority does to that divide.
On the other hand, I usually stop and inspect myself whenever my reasoning that something is bad is not because it hurts me, but because I can't accept to see others improve.
Good rule of thumb is that people should have the freedom to do anything as long as it doesn't violate other people's right. How does a rich family violate poor family's right by making their rich baby better?
On the micro-economics scale, I would not only agree with you, but argue that a successful society depends on it. Just as you should be allowed to participate in whatever harmless recreational activities you like at your own home, so should you be able to keep for yourself anything you've made or earned. Without these freedoms, people lose their incentives to be productive members of society.
However, this breaks down on the macro scale when feedback loops get out of control. Monopolies, duopolies and the like are pretty accepted as bad for economic growth because they have the resources to crush competition and have total control over markets. But monopolies are often just the result of a company that was first to market, had economies of scale, entrenched themselves through legislation, maintained an established brand, and had other feedback loops to strengthen themselves.
Just as we break up monopolies to give competition a chance, we should be working hard to break feedback loops that enforce hierarchy of classes so we can give everyone a chance to be successful or fail on their own.
The parent comment is correct that genetically engineered babies would likely be a mechanism for the socio-economically powerful to entrench their status further. It's not necessarily an argument for outright banning CRISPR babies, but giving more power to rich families absolutely does harm poor families by putting the poor families at a competitive disadvantage.
Mmm...with respect to enforced/entrenched class hierarchies you argue that we should break them up. That looks good on paper but when it comes down to it many parents/families who are smart do their utmost to give their children a leg up. Is this not legitimate? Isn't this, generally speaking, how families that have retained status/prosperity across generations?
Take universities for example. They're not-for-profit institutions that are dedicated to the pure advancement of knowledge. They're a purely good thing. But as the job market required workers of higher skill and knowledge, and as colleges became a necessity for anyone pursuing a sustainable career, tuition prices rose massively. Wealthy families can still afford university tuition and still have all the opportunities that come with, whereas poor families who don't earn scholarships are left with fewer options.
So universities--which still are a purely good thing--have now enabled a feedback loop for furthering the gap between rich and poor. The solution would never be to break up universities, but to break their role in this feedback loop (by, for example, making them not a prerequisite for employment, or by enabling more universal access).
Likewise, I fear for a future where genetically engineered super humans exist, where they are only born of families who can afford it, where employers will hire with exceeding prejudice in favor of people born this way, where universities will likewise favor people like this, and where the rest of humanity gets left out.
Good point. Not many are as clear thinking as you. The one point against this kind of manipulation is that I'm not sure we can predict all the potential consequences. By altering the genes of a few individuals we may incur unintended consequences in generations to come. So whilst we may not personally suffer from the guy next door giving siring to "superior" children there may be trouble a few generations down the line. Perhaps I'm overly pessimistic...
Look how easy information spreads now. Github, Wikipedia, music, YouTube, etc. You think dna is easy to drm?
About 271,000 results (0.36 seconds)
Cons: Seems kinda weird to commercialize children.
Cons: Companies or powerful governments influenced the design and meaning of "happier, more fulfilling and productive lives" such that their own agenda is fulfilled.
Maybe that fate would not affect everyone, but what temptation there would be to make a designer workforce. The perfect employee. The perfect citizen. The perfect subordinate.
It seems to me the just way is similar to how bread is legally required to be fortified with vitamins to avoid e.g. rickets. And how education is legally required. Beyond these community accepted minimums, knock yourself out.
As for the ethics, if gene editing research is inevitable and/or simple as claimed, then perhaps it should be carried out in public universities so as to prevent glory seeking people from causing unnecessary harm. Also, perhaps anyone who carries out gene editing should be held financially liable and even criminally liable for any damage to individuals.
If CRISPR and gene editing lives up to its hype, it feels like we are on the cusp of a brave new world.
What is the rationale behind this regulation? Is it that the baby is likely to be infected with HIV or is there some other reason?
> ① 男女任何一方患有严重的精神疾患、泌尿生殖系统急性感染、性传播疾病；
> ② 患有《母婴保健法》规定的不宜生育的、目前无法进行胚胎植入前遗传学诊断的遗传性疾病；
Translated to English and overly sum up: IVF-ET is forbidden if:
1, The donor or the receptor is currently carrying STD (Or genitourinary infection, or severe mental illness);
2, The patient not recommended to be pregnant according to the 《母婴保健法》(Mother and child health-care law);
3, The patient is suffering from hereditary diseases that cannot be diagnosed with Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis.
The rationale that you are curious about is still unknown here, but I do think this document and the law mentioned can be a good start if you want to figure it out. Sadly though, this field is far out of my range of knowledge, I can't even translate most of them for you (And That page on npc.gov.cn is still loading after 5 mins of waiting).
 http://www.moh.gov.cn/open/uploadfile/2005112816435508.doc (人类辅助生殖技术规范)
 http://www.npc.gov.cn/wxzl/gongbao/2000-12/05/content_500462... (母婴保健法)
With an intensive treatment regimen the risk can be made very low: https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/fact-sheets/...
Unknown to me
>Is it that the baby is likely to be infected with HIV or is there some other reason?
With modern medicine the baby can survive birth without getting infected.
The elephant in the room is, did the gene editing work? If yes, are those babies protected from HIV?
If yes...the world is not the same anymore.
He Jiankui is being vilified now, but I wonder how history will remember him (if at all)
He Jiankui is being fired for publicly announcing his experiment and the subsequent backlash (mostly deserved) from his peers.
One major foul up with human gene editing and the technology will be banned for at least a generation. Think about that.