Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Science Technology

Americans Uncomfortable With Possibility of Ubiquitous Drones, Designer Babies 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-you-design-the-babies-to-also-be-drones dept.
alphadogg writes: "Americans are optimistic about scientific inventions on the horizon, though are cautious about future uses of DNA, robots, drones and always-on implants, according to the latest Pew Research Center survey on future technology (PDF). Asked about the likelihood of certain advances 50 years from now, survey respondents were most sure that lab-grown custom organs for transplant will happen (81%). Only 19% expect humans will be able to control the weather by then. When asked how they felt about possible near-term advances, 65% thought robot caregivers for the elderly is a bad idea, 63% didn't want to see personal drones in U.S. airspace, and 66% thought parents altering the DNA of prospective children was a bad idea."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Americans Uncomfortable With Possibility of Ubiquitous Drones, Designer Babies

Comments Filter:
  • by jpellino (202698) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:42PM (#46790815)

    ... about replacing the baby-delivering storks with drones.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:45PM (#46790835) Homepage Journal

    What if eugenics stopped involving depriving people of their right to reproduce, and instead just targeted the actual genes/gene combinations that are "bad"?

    Could we get the best of both worlds? Or is eugenics always wrong, on account of pre-judging people on DNA? Regardless of the ethics, I find myself getting strongly behind genetic engineering of that sort being available, at least.

    • What if eugenics stopped involving depriving people of their right to reproduce, and instead just targeted the actual genes/gene combinations that are "bad"?

      Could we get the best of both worlds? Or is eugenics always wrong, on account of pre-judging people on DNA? Regardless of the ethics, I find myself getting strongly behind genetic engineering of that sort being available, at least.

      Looking at the world today, and how those in power treat those who are not, do you honestly think humanity would be responsible with that kind of power? Or would powerful people try and manipulate the general public into supporting the elimination of "genetic abnormalities" that aren't directly detrimental to society at large, but rather represent a threat to their monopoly on power?

      I.e., the oligarchs would absolutely love being able to stomp out dissent genetically.

      • And... what exactly is this means you're thinking they'll have? We're talking GATTACA kinds of manipulation of recombination, not complete genome rewrites, which are so far beyond our capacity as to still be sci-fi.

        • And... what exactly is this means you're thinking they'll have?

          Well, one obvious way to do it would be to set up a pricing structure for designer babies such that the babies with the Politically Correct genome (whatever that is conceived to be) waaay cheaper than the non-PC genomes.

          I mean, something as simple as "white babies 1/2 off this month only!" would be vile beyond belief, and almost certainly done if it were possbile.

          You could also look for genetic defects common to [minority you despise] and offe

        • And... what exactly is this means you're thinking they'll have?

          I'm sorry, what? That sentence makes no sense.

          We're talking GATTACA kinds of manipulation of recombination, not complete genome rewrites, which are so far beyond our capacity as to still be sci-fi.

          FWIW, 15 years ago we were saying that very thing about a lot of the technology that exists today - like drones, hypersonic aircraft, incredibly powerful computers that fit in a pocket, stem cells, government agencies with the ability to monitor every communication on the planet, rail guns, etc.

          • I don't necessarily disagree with you about genetic engineering being within a lifetime. But...15 years ago, seriously? Most of those things were considered plausible, not sci-fi. Hell, in 1999 we *assumed* we'd have incredibly powerful computers in our pockets and we often see articles disappointed that we haven't met 1999's expectations. Remember, it was 2001 when the infamous stem cell research funding ban came into effect. Drones were used in the first Gulf War in 1991, and it was big news when the

            • I think genetic engineering is definitely within a lifetime. We have been making genetic changes in the germline of mice for over 25 years. It was horribly inefficient for about 23 of those years. Now, it is fairly easy with RNA Guided Nucleases like CRISPR/Cas9. We are starting to develop treatments for diseases based on engineering somatic cells in adults. Going to germline modification in the human will take some technological developmental and refinements. But, it is not a large conceptual step to go to
    • Re:Designer babies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:56PM (#46790949)

      Just as the strongest argument against communism is to simply point at every attempt to implement it, likewise the strongest argument against Eugenics is to look at all the times we (US, Germany, etc) attempted it.

      Its not a good path to go down. It invariably leads towards first/second class citizens, people whose ability to reproduce is considered detrimental to society, and a tyranny of the masses.

      • But previous attempts at eugenics all attempted to operate at the "can reproduce" stage, it could be very different to do so at the "How you reproduce" stage.

        • People also make the argument that the prior communists just werent doing it right.

          Id prefer to learn from history. It has NEVER gone well with eugenics, and once you've accepted the premise of eugenics the rest of the nastiness follows logically.

    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      At this point I view eugenics as nearly always bad. With most "improvement" we'll most likely reduce our diversity, and that's pretty bad. Then there is what we view as good for us, and what is good for us is sometimes two different things. There does seem to be a form of what I'll say is epieuginics coming about were instead of tampering with the DNA in a way that removes diversity that it just turns off the currently undesired gene, but could later be turned back on in a future generation. What I've read
      • At this point I view eugenics as nearly always bad. With most "improvement" we'll most likely reduce our diversity, and that's pretty bad.

        I'm inclined to ask why that's bad. Sounds like it would solve race hate problems.

        Anyway, I think the problem is likely to be the opposite. More likely that whacky people - the sort that currently name their children things like "Pilot Inspektor" and "Crime Fighter", are also the sort of people who would think it fun to opt for a green baby, one who will grow to 8 ft high, or one with four arms.

    • On of the problems is that some very positive features may be associated with some very negative ones. Is compulsive behavior linked to high productivity in some jobs? Great leaders and great revolutionaries may have similar traits. Is artistic ability linked to depression?

      I fear creating a world full of "ordinary" people, because we don't want a Cesar.

  • I don't give a fuck about personal ones - but the government use of drones will lead to more intrusion on our lives, more spying, more death and destruction.
    • This is the kind of blatant generalizations that cause unnecessary fear of government drones.
      FEMA is a government agency and could use drones to quickly survey disaster areas and send help where it is need.
      The Forest Service is a government agency that could use drones to spot for water bombers and keep pilots out of dangerous situations.
      The Forest Service can also use drones to survey the health of the forests.
      There are many very good uses for government drones.

      more death and destruction.

      The most government drones that will be autho

      • The most government drones that will be authorized for use in US airspace will be surveillance drones. How can surveillance drones lead to death and destruction?

        They don't. They lead to more spying, which is what GP said but was omitted in your quote. And sooner or later they'll be armed, let's not kid our selves.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          They lead to more spying, which is what GP said but was omitted in your quote.

          I omitted it because it it is true. I question the part about "more death and destruction". I am allowed to question part of a statement without questioning every singe part.

          And sooner or later they'll be armed, let's not kid our selves.

          Spying does not inevitably lead to armed drones, lets not be paranoid. If armed drones are ever proposed then we can deal with the proposal. That is not happening now so lets just deal with surveillance drones.

          My original statement still holds "Not all government drones are bad".

          • by Stickerboy (61554)

            They lead to more spying, which is what GP said but was omitted in your quote.

            I omitted it because it it is true. I question the part about "more death and destruction". I am allowed to question part of a statement without questioning every singe part.

            And sooner or later they'll be armed, let's not kid our selves.

            Spying does not inevitably lead to armed drones, lets not be paranoid. If armed drones are ever proposed then we can deal with the proposal. That is not happening now so lets just deal with surveillance drones.

            My original statement still holds "Not all government drones are bad".

            Wait, what??? "If armed drones are ever proposed then we can deal with the proposal." Is this along the same vein as, when the US government gave the CIA and NSA armed drones with Hellfire missiles, there was a very public and conscientious debate about their use, when to use them, when not to use them, and who will provide oversight and transparency to the process of killing by armed drone?

            I agree 100% with the grandparent poster. We'll know when the drones are armed after the trigger is already pulled.

            • by jklovanc (1603149)

              There is a huge difference between the use of armed drones on US soil and armed droned in lawless areas of the World. If there were local law enforcement strong enough to deal with terrorist leaders the CIA and NSA would not need armed drones.

              We'll know when the drones are armed after the trigger is already pulled.

              How will banning unarmed drones stop armed drones is, a you say, they are going to happen anyway? If an unauthorized armed drone ever fires anything in the US the government will change in the next election.

              Since there are authorized government helicopters and the gove

        • " How can surveillance drones lead to death and destruction?" - fall out of the sky onto people ???
  • OK, I get that it is currently a bad idea to try to clone humans or modify an embryo's DNA. We essentially do not yet know how do it with an acceptable safety. So, the process is likely to cause harm to humans, and is wrong.

    But eventually, it will be safe and probably fairly easy.

    At that point, what is wrong with eliminating a mutation in an embryo to prevent a disease during subsequent adulthood. And if there is nothing wrong with that, then what is wrong with making a change to make the eventual adult

    • by netsavior (627338)
      you have entirely too much logic. The skymonster will punish us all.
    • by Kuroji (990107)

      Because then any babies that are not designer babies will become second class citizens. For instance, the scenario posited by the movie Gattaca.

      The real dangers here is that it could eventually cause the designer part of the species to form a new subspecies of homo sapiens. Or perhaps accidentally engineer out something that could (in theory) allow non-engineered humans to resist a disease or some other sort of thing that would cause them harm, though that is far less likely.

      • by Dr. Spork (142693)
        I think you're looking at the issue wrong. There are already many second-class citizens in the world, and with depressing uniformity, they produce offspring who themselves grow up to be second class citizens. Having the option to genetically engineer traits that are highly correlated with success and satisfaction could be the very thing we need to beat this generational trap. Maybe the best way to see genetic engineering is to compare it with buying college for your children. Sure, that puts them "ahead" of
    • I think you don't get how genetics works.

      Various biochemical pathways are conserved, and are there to react to different environmental conditions.

      Disease is a moving target. As we suppress one disease, another takes its niche.

      In most cases we only know the primary biochemical pathway, have sparse information on the secondary biochemical pathway which kicks in when the primary pathway is disrupted, and have little to no information on the evolutionarily conserved tertiary biochemical pathway we inherited fro

      • The assumption here is that there is no set of genes that are guaranteed to be purely negative for humankind. That's just false. There's just no reason we'd want to let somebody grow up with cystic fibrosis, for instance. The sickle-cell anemia vs. malaria case is actually unusual, and a population high in sickle-cell anemic individuals is not actually a desirable outcome.

        Also, if we can prevent genetic engineering, then surely we can prevent choosing the gender of children. If you can't prevent choosin

        • by Stickerboy (61554)

          The assumption here is that there is no set of genes that are guaranteed to be purely negative for humankind. That's just false. There's just no reason we'd want to let somebody grow up with cystic fibrosis, for instance.

          Yes, except being heterozygous for the cystic fibrosis mutation actually turns out to give resistance to cholera, in the same way that being heterozygous for sickle cell gives resistance to malaria.

          The sickle-cell anemia vs. malaria case is actually unusual, and a population high in sickle-cell anemic individuals is not actually a desirable outcome.

          The former is false, the latter is true. The only reason something as disadvantageous as sickle cell has existed to be passed down through the generations is, and I cannot stress this enough, malaria is such a horrible disease (and thus a good natural selector) that such a disadvantage can be outweighed by its su

  • The obligitory "Dihydrogen Oxide" reference:
    http://www.dhmo.org/research.h... [dhmo.org] ...applies here.

  • Seeding clouds to make it rain is 1950s technology and recently Moscow's mayor made it snow IIRC.
    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      The Moscow Mayer promised it would not snow in Moscow. He planned to do it by seeding the clouds before they got to Moscow so they would be depleted and not drop snow on Moscow. Cloud seeding is very minor and basically just changes where precipitation will fall.
      To me weather control is much more broad such as disrupting hurricanes, redirecting systems to help with drought, significantly effecting temperatures, etc.

  • If other countries start creating "tiger kids" en mass, then the USA may be forced to accept the idea in order to economically compete.

    Resistance is fu......oh sh8t!

  • designer gentals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2014 @05:36PM (#46791339)

    "...66% thought parents altering the DNA of prospective children was a bad idea..."

    Unfortunately, nearly half of Americans still have no problem surgically altering [youtube.com] the genitals of their sons in order to suit their own aesthetic and sexual preferences or to satisfy their own religious blood rituals.

  • by nobuddy (952985) on Friday April 18, 2014 @06:57PM (#46791849) Homepage Journal

    A drone is just a remote controlled aircraft with a camera. I had several "drones" in the late 1980's as a teenager, for fuck's sake. Get over the knee-jerk raction equating "drone" with "terminator T-1000" and come back to sanity.

    • You're the one who seems out of touch, the most popular drone is the semi-autonomous assassination bomber. There have been some advancements in computer processing since the 80s...
    • Drone are actually at this day, used to kill people in other part of the world. They were not back in then 1980's. Furthermore with the incisingly militarisation of the police in the USA, the two fears are : 1) it will make it very easy to itnroduce massive "eye in the sky" surveillance everywhere in the US 2) that the drone will not stay "passive civilian like" but acquiere first strike capabilities on US soil too.

      And seeing the evolution of the no knock raid, and the surveillance society the US is build
  • More free skeet targets.

    If you want your robot back, don't send it over my airspace.

  • 51% agree with the statement: "Computers will be able to create art as well as humans."

    I wonder if people realize that this requires an AI so advanced that it's indistinguishable from the human brain, with fine motor skills to match. I see this as highly unlikely.

    At least, it's far less likely than controlling the weather, which is something we can do already: http://www.geoengineeringwatch... [geoengineeringwatch.org]

  • People are wary because they don't see tangible incentive right now. Their attitude will change when they do.

    First when they understand they can prevent their children from getting genes that e.g. code for nasty hereditary disease like cystic fibrosis.

    Then more people will get on board if they believe they can get genes that reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, caries, code for better eyesight, a stronger immune system etc.

    After that I think we'll see offers for genes that code for needing less

  • 'Designer' Drones
    'Ubiquitous' Babies

    or combine. Anything folded into the cause of 'good parenting', however tenuous, puts it off-limits culturally,

    Drone Baby Monitor
    Baby's First Drone

    Marketing tags revisited,
    1950s: Drone-A-Tron, Atomic Baby
    1970s: 'Euro' Drones, 'Euro' Babies
    1980s: Power Drones, Power Babies
    1990s: My Little Drone, My Little Baby
    2000s: Green Drones, Carbon Neutral Babies
    2010s: 'Flava' Drones, Organic Babies

    Perhaps Americans are uncomfortable these days generally. Was there an adequate control

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

Working...