Designer Babies

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Postby JoshuaZ » Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:34 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:True, but what's the difference between "I have a flash handbag and you don't" and "I'm genetically improved and you're not" ?


Well one concern is that it makes the have/have-not divide more likely to get worse as the generations progress. The haves will get better and better genes and be smart and and more succesful while the have-not will have be not as bright and have all sorts of diseases. Overall the divide in quality of living between haves and have-nots on this planet is already getting more wider as time goes on.
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Postby Princess Marzipan » Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:51 pm UTC

JoshuaZ wrote:
bigglesworth wrote:True, but what's the difference between "I have a flash handbag and you don't" and "I'm genetically improved and you're not" ?


Well one concern is that it makes the have/have-not divide more likely to get worse as the generations progress. The haves will get better and better genes and be smart and and more succesful while the have-not will have be not as bright and have all sorts of diseases. Overall the divide in quality of living between haves and have-nots on this planet is already getting more wider as time goes on.


You're arguing that something will happen which is already happening and has been happening. So doing something that makes this happen...essentially has no effect on the divide.

There are many factors in have/have not divide. I think my previous posts back up my next statement - that it is possible to implement such genetic selection without negatively affecting society.

That problem with the divide is that no one who can fix it really cares to do so. Prettier children won't change that.
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Postby Gelsamel » Fri Jun 15, 2007 4:57 pm UTC

Ahahahaha I can roll my tongue and you can't!

And I'm taller then you! Also, I don't have any horribly debilitating genetic disorders!
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Postby Princess Marzipan » Fri Jun 15, 2007 5:04 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Ahahahaha I can roll my tongue and you can't!

And I'm taller then you! Also, I don't have any horribly debilitating genetic disorders!


Ow, my social stature! :cry:
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Postby blob » Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:56 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:I think we already have some retroviruses that can modify a few used (used in therapy for some genetic disorders), and they have a high chance of death and/or bad side effects.

Drat. Any potential alternatives to the retro-virus method?
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Postby Vaniver » Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:07 pm UTC

blob wrote:
Vaniver wrote:I think we already have some retroviruses that can modify a few used (used in therapy for some genetic disorders), and they have a high chance of death and/or bad side effects.

Drat. Any potential alternatives to the retro-virus method?
If it's a organ-specific genetic disorder (my X doesn't produce Y), they could clone, modify, and then grow a replacement organ that will have the disorder fixed. Otherwise, pretty much your only choice is replacing every cell one-by-one (which is what a retrovirus attempts to do).

The big problem is when it's genes that determine physical makeup. If my brain is structured a certain way because of what my genes were when I was eight weeks old (or whatever), changing my genes now won't alter my brain structure, and might screw up normal tissue regrowth.
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Postby bigglesworth » Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:11 pm UTC

Thinking about it, the price of a designer baby is unlikely to be higher than 18 years of private education, an expensive university, and other things that get you ahead in life. Why will healthier people affect this.

Also: if rich people procreate with poor people, everyone gets the benefits...
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Postby Belial » Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:12 pm UTC

The big problem is when it's genes that determine physical makeup. If my brain is structured a certain way because of what my genes were when I was eight weeks old (or whatever), changing my genes now won't alter my brain structure, and might screw up normal tissue regrowth.


Well, it also depends on whether the physical structure you're changing is one like the brain that is pretty much static, or one like your skin, which is constantly dying and regrowing. Genetic changes work well on the latter, and poorly on the former. Most of your tissues are somewhere in between.
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Postby jwwells » Sat Jun 16, 2007 2:12 pm UTC

Developmental biologist here. I believe that people should be allowed to do this, and that it is inevitable that we will eventually begin tinkering with our own development, especially in cases of disease.

However, I am certain it will lead to tragedy in many completely unforeseeable ways. So has the airplane. I do not believe it will create a permanent class of have-nots for the same reason that antibiotics haven't created a permanent class of have-nots - there's going to be widespread demand for this, and that means that people will try to find ways to do it as cheaply as possible. Markets are good at this sort of thing.

There is, however, the chance that we will lose some protection against environmental challenges. The classic case of a useful disease mutation is sickle-cell anemia (protects against malaria in heterozygotes). For that matter, how many superb soldiers and generals have been, on some level, psychologically abnormal?
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Postby Vaniver » Sat Jun 16, 2007 3:28 pm UTC

There is, however, the chance that we will lose some protection against environmental challenges. The classic case of a useful disease mutation is sickle-cell anemia (protects against malaria in heterozygotes). For that matter, how many superb soldiers and generals have been, on some level, psychologically abnormal?
The thing is, if there's some gene (or group of genes) that is shown to create genius, with some side effects, won't that make it a desirable gene?

For the system to really work well, you would need continual genetic experimentation. That actually might fix the have/have not problem- we'll modify your baby for free, but we don't know what the effects of a few of the modifications will be (with the rest being positive). It might end up like a second Tuskegee Syphilis Study, but that's the risk one runs.
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Postby jwwells » Sun Jun 17, 2007 5:26 am UTC

I'm more worried about the case where there are no obviously dangerous side-effects - in that case, there'd be no incentive for individuals not to pursue the "most productive" alterations.

Remember when everybody seemed to be naming their girls Jennifer? Imagine that, but with brain chemistry instead of names - a generation of kids genetically engineered for success, by whatever the fashionable criterion of the time is. Not to say that this is any worse than educational fads...
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Postby motor_ola » Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:15 pm UTC

What i suspect will be the legislation (at least at first) about this is that it will be allowed to remove certain serious diseases, but any other alterations (like choosing eye-color or boosting intelligence) will not be allowed. I think this would be an sort of alright solution, allthough a definetely not optimal.

I don't think it's unethical towards the child at all to improve it's genes.
After all, wouldn't it be nice to have perfect health, and live for 150 years or more, and be super-intelligent. I realise there will propably be huge issues about discrimination and some people not able to afford having their children designed etc. but i think that would be a necessary evil, and would ultimately be resolved. As humans no longer struggle for survival, the survival of the fittest is loosing it's edge, and it will have to be up to humans themselves to continue the evolution.

I guess i sound like a typical super-villain, but that's what i think. People should have a choice.
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Postby zenten » Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:38 pm UTC

About the have/have not issue.

It's only a problem if the country/province/state/other political body you're in does not pay for it. And if having access to such things does have a real impact on how successful you will be in life, then the countries that do have universal healthcare that covers this will end up being more successful as a whole, out compete the countries that don't, and either turn the countries that don't into third world nations, or influence those countries to adopt the same mechanisms.

So the issue isn't whether or not to legalize this in your country, but how accessible it will be. The more accessible, the better for everyone (I'd much rather be a genetically deficient individual in a rich country of supermen then the same as all the other poor shmoes in a poor country).
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Postby zenten » Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:40 pm UTC

As to the other issues, I'm much more worried about homogenizing the population (in terms of disease issues and whatnot), and about any given alteration having unforeseen nasty side effects.
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Postby mqarcus » Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:26 pm UTC

I am a great fan of "designing children".

It gives a great opportunity to exterminate genetical defects and generally weak genes, resulting in a stronger, healthier and more intelligent population, to some extent.
However, this alone will not provide a nation with strong people - good education, etc. is very important (but does not belong to the topic).

And "ethical"? What are ethics other than religious principles, often followed by those who are not members of any religion? Just another moral obstacle.
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Postby hellmitre » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:26 pm UTC

Screening for potential diseases and predispositions makes sense, as well as issues in carrying and birthing a baby. But the parents make the ultimate decision. If it is determined that the mother will have trouble carrying or birthing the baby, or there is a high risk of blindness, the parents have the ultimate responsibility of deciding if they want to go the extra mile and be good parents with the extra responsibility of dealing with a blind or deaf child or one with autism.
I, for one, might not have been born. My grandmother (on my mom's side) was given drugs to aid in her pregnancy with my mother, which in turn severely reduced my mom's ability to carry a child. I was born three months premature, at two pounds even. And I came out alright. I suppose. Heh.
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