A little while ago there was concern over test-tube babies and the multi-million dollar mapping of the human genome. Those days are long gone. Babies are routinely born through IVF and we can map our own genome in days for a few hundred dollars. We are in a new age.
These days we can take a gene from any organism, plant or animal, and implant it in any other organism. There is nothing to stop us taking a gene for fluorescence from a jellyfish and inserting it into a human embryo to make a child fluorescent green. It would glow in the dark and be safer on the roads. Could that become a trend for future generations?
The question is – where do we draw the line?
We can easily remove defective genes and replace them with working ones so that hereditary diseases such as Huntingdon’s Chorea will be things of the past. We can even remove genes that give us predispositions to cancers and heart disease and replace them with better genes.
I don’t think many people would greatly object to that.
But how about selecting the genes for intelligence to make our children supersmart? Or genes for height, strength and physical prowess to breed the next generation of sportsmen and sportswomen? Why spent a fortune on cosmetic surgery when you can genetically design people to look handsome and pretty with the perfect features and body?
Imagine future generations of uniformly super-intelligent people with perfect bodies – all those uglinesses, aches and pains a thing of the past.
It is now feasible to alter the emotional disposition of your offspring to make them nicer, more pleasant and friendly.
We could select out the psychopaths and violent killers. We could have an age of pleasantness and friendliness.
Does it all sound like Stepford Wives? – A nightmare? Well it might not be far away.
We are in the age of designer babies; the age when humans can change decide to alter things at will. We would no longer be at the whim of evolution. We would be in control.
We can make super-crops, revive dead species, create new species. It is all possible. Everything is up for grabs.
But on the downside an unscrupulous dictator could create super-bugs that would be capable of wiping out mankind (or selected races), or designing heartless soldiers with hugely calculating minds and physical dexterity; or scientists with devious minds.
We are on the threshold of a new age.
Is it going to be used for good or bad?
As with all human progress – ‘It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it?’