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Science Technology

Editing Genes In Human Embryos Doesn't Mean Designer Babies 130

TheAlexKnapp writes: Dr. Kathy Niakan, who is leading the scientific team that just got the go-ahead to edit genes in human embryos, explains why their work won't lead to designer babies. The genes that they're looking at, she says, are unique to the human embryo, and the work's sole purpose is to understand early development. "We can use this new method that's extremely precise and efficient to ask questions about early development that has profound importance for stem cell biology, and for our understanding of why some embryos fail to thrive." But really ... how long until it turns into designer babies?
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Editing Genes In Human Embryos Doesn't Mean Designer Babies

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "...and I only make my money to help win just wars."

  • Why did they bred raptors?

  • by heldal ( 2015350 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @04:04PM (#51521949)

    I'm probably going to be lynched by saying this, but in order to fix ourselves and populate the galaxy, we basically have two options:

    1. 1. Augment ourselves, using gene technology, computers etc
    2. 2. Ditch ourselves and build a totally new, superior species

    It's pretty evident that although we have won the top spot here on Earth, we're pretty feeble anywhere else. If we want to expand and spread out across the universe, we need to fix things. Maybe we'll divert into different species designed to live in different environments. Maybe we'll develop a superior brain and switch bodies as needed. Maybe we'll transition into virtual beings. Maybe we'll fuse into a collective mind. Maybe something totally different.

    Who knows? One thing is certain, though. If it can be done, someone will do it, and whomever gets it working will probably gain possibilities beyond what we can imagine today, ushering in a new era of colonization and discovery. Personally I see this as natural progession - and it's beautiful!

    • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @04:08PM (#51522001) Homepage Journal
      We cannot populate the galaxy...because distance. The nearest star outside of our system is way too far away. We could never reach there. And no, we cannot build a spaceship that can go any appreciable fraction of the speed of light and there is no such thing as wormholes we can travel through.
      • by heldal ( 2015350 )

        We cannot populate the galaxy...because distance. The nearest star outside of our system is way too far away. We could never reach there. And no, we cannot build a spaceship that can go any appreciable fraction of the speed of light and there is no such thing as wormholes we can travel through.

        And what if we can slumber for millions of years, lying deactivated until we reach something of interest? Even if there turns out there is no way to reach places faster than light, if we have the possibility to adapt ourselves accordingly, why wouldn't we? Although instant communication across thousands of lightyears would be nice, it's by no means a requirement for further colonization.

        • Although instant communication across thousands of lightyears would be nice, it's by no means a requirement for further colonization.

          We've gotten so used to instant communication that we forget that - for much of human history - moving meant losing all contact with the people you left behind. It might be that this "instant communication with anyone, anywhere" period is a temporary phase of human history and we've simply just made Earth into a global village with other villages (other planets) completely un

          • I've always assumed that most languages would die from now on, but if there comes a point where we cannot communicate with everyone at any time, new languages might actually have a chance of developing, again increasing human linguistic diversity (and, for that matter, diversity in general).
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @06:50PM (#51523299) Homepage Journal

          And what if we can slumber for millions of years, lying deactivated until we reach something of interest? Even if there turns out there is no way to reach places faster than light, if we have the possibility to adapt ourselves accordingly, why wouldn't we? Although instant communication across thousands of lightyears would be nice, it's by no means a requirement for further colonization.

          This is an interesting possibility, but I think that "slumber" might be overkill. You don't need to send actual humans there, just the building blocks needed to create humans.

          So you might start by building a copy of the human genome, wrapped up as "junk genes" in mold. The mold goes into spore form, and gets frozen by the cold of space, remaining dormant until it arrives. You then modify the genetic trigger that fires when there are favorable conditions for life. Instead of causing the mold to go from spore form into actual mold, the trigger would instead change the stop codons to construct appropriate organelles (e.g. human mitochondria) by using some previously "junk" DNA to construct the human mitochondrial DNA, and then would subsequently change the stop codons again to make the human DNA be the primary DNA, leaving the mold and mitochondrial DNA disabled. After a few cell divisions, you'd basically have human cells, and I think that would be close enough.

          Of course, I shudder to think what sort of conditions would be necessary for a human embryo to grow without a human womb. In practice, such a design would probably have to use a multi-stage process with multiple generations of self-replication, each of which builds progressively more complex structures, until you eventually get to something that can process oxygen and pump blood well enough for a human fetus to grow inside it, at which point it would produce one or more actual, pre-fertilized human eggs.

          I'm not sure how practical such a concept would be, and I'm not sure if the cell membrane of a mold cell would be serviceable as a temporary housing for the contents of a human cell, but it would be pretty cool if somebody managed to pull it off. Combine that with androids to teach them human culture, and you have yourself a lifeboat.

          • Who knows, maybe that is exactly how life got started here on Earth the first time. We didn't get human DNA, we got building blocks that by design evolved into Human Beings. Paradoxically, I have it on good authority that they did make a mistake and that mice were supposed to be the dominant species. :)
      • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

        Nothing is really stopping us from building a ship that goes an appreciable fraction of light speed other than applying the necessary resources to do so. It would cost trillions to do it, of course, but it is not outside of the capabilities of humanity at this point. The major problems are supplies, protection from radiation and particle impacts, and the big one, fuel. All of those could be brute forced, however, with the suitable expenditure of money and resources.

        The reality is that we'd have to change

      • by Jack9 ( 11421 )

        > We cannot populate the galaxy...because distance

        We can't. That's not the same as saying our genome can't.

      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        We cannot populate the galaxy...because distance. The nearest star outside of our system is way too far away. We could never reach there.

        All of these are pessimistically false statements. Let's start with the last one first - we will send a robotic probe to Alpha Centauri within the next 80 years. We can reach it within the next 10 if we really wanted to. We have the technology, it's just the will to build it that matters. So, a) we can reach it, b) the nearest star is close enough, c) populating the galaxy is possible, just really really slow with today's technology.

        • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

          We can reach it within the next 10 if we really wanted to.

          It's more than 4 light years away and we can reach it within the next 10? Right.

          • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
            Check Project Orion [wikipedia.org] We're talking robotic probes here, so a whole bunch of concerns are pretty trivial. It also gives us a nice use for all that nuclear waste we have laying around. Just have to process it into some useful material (triple bonus?) and send it off. I also said to get there, not necessarily stop there, so less than half the propulsion is required. Then it just comes down to sending useful information at near light speed.
            • by Knuckles ( 8964 )

              And developing such a craft will take how many years?

      • we could get to nearest star in less than 50 years even with staged fission powered craft

      • We cannot populate the galaxy...because distance.

        Boo, hoo, it's too far. It's not like we could...
        1) Build a nuclear powered generation ship
        2) Build a fusion powered generation ship (even faster, but may also need a fission reactor if the fusion tech is weak).
        3) Figure out how to put people in suspended animation, and use a more conventional ship
        4) Discard our flesh bodies, colonizing in robotic form
        5) Develop nanotech, to the point we could build ships small enough to make antimatter a viable rocket fuel. Combined with artificial wombs, we could have fin

      • by bjwest ( 14070 )

        We cannot populate the galaxy...because distance. The nearest star outside of our system is way too far away. We could never reach there. And no, we cannot build a spaceship that can go any appreciable fraction of the speed of light and there is no such thing as wormholes we can travel through.

        With our current understanding of the universe. Christ, are you people so arrogant that you think we understand anything? I mean really understand it? Hell, quantum mechanics [wikipedia.org] was only discovered less than 200 years ago, and before that we though we knew everything. You think we know it all now? Nothing can go faster than the speed of light? I say bull shit. We just haven't figured it out yet. We are still infants crawling around on the floor shitting in our diapers as far as knowledge of the univers

      • I think saying "We could never reach there" is a really stupid thing to say. We certainly could reach there, given enough time. How long will humanity (or human-based civilizations) last? Unless we destroy ourselves, there's no reason that we couldn't eventually get there. Thousands of years in the future, possibly. Not in my lifetime, certainly, but "never" is a silly thing to say.
    • If we want to expand and spread out across the universe, we need to fix things. Maybe we'll divert into different species designed to live in different environments. Maybe we'll develop a superior brain and switch bodies as needed. Maybe we'll transition into virtual beings. Maybe we'll fuse into a collective mind. Maybe something totally different.

      You watch far too many movies, or smoke far too much pot, or both.

      We're a LONG way from anything like that. Science fiction is just that.

      Maybe unicorns will co

      • by heldal ( 2015350 )
        I didn't say this would happen tomorrow. I merely stated that, in order for us evolve further, we will have to do something about it ourselves. And judging by human instinct and competition, we will. Whatever priorities NASA had in the last decades are completely irrelevant to the discussion.
      • Also we have made a habit of taking the warnings of science fiction too far. We fail to realize in order to make the plot interesting we need conflict. So in terms of a story is makes good reading for what if we see a new science trending now, and figure out the worse case scenario. That will make an interesting story, but the crazy thing about worse case scenario, is that it rarely if ever happens. I would say the worse thing that science has produced is the Nuclear Bomb. And guess what after seeing h

        • "After 70 years with such risky science, We are not in a nuclear holocaust world."

          That's why we ruin scenarios, both formal (Pentagon simulations, etc.) and fictional.

      • The last 100 years have certainly seen quite a bit of change. I'm not sure I can imagine what 2116 would look like and I wouldn't even consider that to be a long time. 200 years? How could you not be optimisic about where we can be?
      • Maybe unicorns will come down and smear their unicorn poop on your forehead and give you psychic abilities and superpowers, but I wouldn't go making any plans for it.

        To the best of our knowledge, unicorns don't exist. On the other hand computers, ever faster communication channels, and primitive brain-computer interfaces do. So whether or not we will in fact ever move our brains from body to body, transition into virtual beings, or fuse into a collective mind, those things are likely to be physically possi

    • Maybe we'll divert into different species

      "we" or "they" ?

    • I agree, there is nothing wrong with "designer babies" only a deliberate act that changes a human in a way that increase their suffering, disables them, or shortens their life, is "wrong". I can give you a huge list of accepted practices that are "wrong" in that way, but "designer babies" isn't one of them.
      • by neminem ( 561346 )

        In fact, I would say, given your statement (which I mostly agree with), once we have the technology in a stable, affordable state, *not* using it to get rid of any horrible birth defects or other serious congenital health issues that it can be used to prevent, would be considered "wrong". I don't think we should go about messing with the genome *too* much - we don't want to end up like the modern banana, losing a lot of genetic variation in search of the single "perfect" specimen - but getting rid of obviou

    • Or
      3. Use the same evolutionary process to adapt to living other places in the universe, as we used here.

      This may include 1, or 2. Another species may supersede us anyway. We may die out if we can't evolve to reach the stars.

    • "I'm probably going to be lynched by saying this"

      You won't be lynched because your opponents are simply people who will not use your technology. If a GM human "fork" is a better fit for living on Europa than unmodified humans, the anti-GM people will...not be there to oppose you, and will probably have long since died of some disease they could have been vaccinated for. You will own the environment to which your new subspecies is adapted.

  • There will probably be countries that allow tinkering to create smarter and/or more disciplined children. If the USA doesn't allow it, we may fall behind and not be competitive with such countries.

    Also, there may not be enough "room at the top". If you cloned Steve Jobs 1,000 times, that doesn't mean there would be 1,000 Apple Co's. It mostly just means more competition for the "elite" jobs. There's plenty of interesting ideas floating around (I have some of my own I think are good) but the market-place ca

    • Also, there may not be enough "room at the top". If you cloned Steve Jobs 1,000 times, that doesn't mean there would be 1,000 Apple Co's. It mostly just means more competition for the "elite" jobs.

      There's also the nature vs. nurture factor. If you cloned Steve Jobs 1,000 times, gave those cloned babies to 1,000 random families, and waited 20 years, you'd get a mix of outcomes. Some Jobs-Clones would come out with creativity and drive to rival the original, but many would fall far short of their potential

      • Re:Racing races (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @04:40PM (#51522307)

        And it's important to keep in mind that just because you have a hundred people with the drive and creativity of Jobs, that doesn't mean that *any* of them will be anywhere near as dramatically successful. A great deal in the world depends on chance - on being in the right place at the right time to make your first fortune so that you have the resources to play in the major leagues.

        • Something tells me Steve would have eventually been at least mildly successful in something even if he never met Woz etc. He was highly driven. Pixar owes some of its success to Jobs, even though it's only remotely related to end-user computers. He sensed an emerging market there.

          His (non-genetic) father was interested in cars and cabinetry and tried to get Steve interested in those also. But, he was drawn to electronic gizmos instead. (It's true, though, his father got him interested in the "look and feel"

      • You're missing one important aspect though. Say only 10 of 1,000 Jobs clones are successful. So what? You ignore that you might be able to start with a different set of genes with outcomes being anywhere from 0 of 1,000 to 100 of 1,000 clones being successful. If you have a sufficiently hostile environment, it doesn't matter how many super genes you pack into something. Super corn isn't going to grow any taller than regular corn if left unwatered and in a dark closet, but under reasonable conditions, it wil
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Steve Jobs was as much a result of his life experiences as he was his genes. Jobs learned a lot while out of Apple and was taught a hard lesson. It is entirely possible that Jobs himself would have run Apple into the ground if he hadn't been fired the first time.

      In any case, I do think that designer babies will become possible, and people will do it. Why? Because if it is possible, it will be done. Maybe not today, but tomorrow. We're very good at overcoming our own qualms about things in the name of

    • There will probably be countries that allow tinkering to create smarter and/or more disciplined children.

      While other countries won't even allow the children to have a proper education...

  • Now, *designed* babies, that would be interesting. Maybe they can find the gene for crying in the middle of the night.

  • I want one Givenchy and two Ralph Lauren, please.
  • yes it does (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @04:12PM (#51522031)

    Ever since we found out what genes are, and what they do, EVERY advancement in the field has contributed to exactly this, designer babies. Nobody wants to admit it but lets be honest, it is actually a major goal. We all want to improve ourselves and our offspring. It is part of the struggle for survival, it is in our competitive nature, it is instinct.
    We WILL use any means we can to gain a competitive advantage and those that don't compete will lose by default. Designer babies will happen and in the long run it will likely become the norm.

    • Using the term "designer babies" is a use of sensationalism to belittle the real medical advances going on. The implication of the term is that parents are considering gene editing just to get the hair or eye color they want. That would indeed be inappropriate. But the reality is that there are many serious genetic diseases, that may only be curable through gene editing. Should we ban all antibiotics because some use it as a growth hormone? Certainly not! Nor should we dismiss genetic therapies becaus

  • Does the concept of designer babies include correcting faults or errors that lead to downs syndrome or other such debilitating diseases and conditions ? Not that I agree, but I can see some objections to purely cosmetic corrections or the introduction of 'new' features, i.e. gills or high/low pressure acclimatization, decorative skin or eye colors, etc., but correcting defects doesn't seem like it should be classed as 'designer'

    • Usually people are on board with fixing defects (not sure about the religious right... maybe if it means less abortions?), the designer label usually refers to stuff like picking out aesthetic attributes. Think reconstructive surgery versus elective plastic surgery. Generally the authors name stuff like blue eyes or being tall, but that would actually be boring if you were bothering with genetically modifying your offspring for whimsy. I'd expect an oligarch to make children with violet eyes and silver h
      • As far as I can tell, some of the religious right might see it as "playing God," and so might object to it. However, the majority would not have any issues with it, especially if it decreases abortions. That is, assuming it doesn't require destruction of fertilized eggs (which would be an abortion itself).
    • if you ignore the slippery slope and pretend there are no gray areas, almost everyone would probably that correcting clear defects is okay.

      It's that fuzzy line, the gray area, that's the whole problem. Where to draw the line, who decides where to draw the line, and who enforces the line?

      Consider what's happened with plastic surgery. Plastic surgery for the repair of facial injuries dates back about 5,000 years, to ancient Egypt. For thousands of years, these techniques were mostly* (though not entirely) lim

      • I would not agree that correcting clear defects is okay, because I don't think we know what exactly a defect is. These "defects" may in fact lead to a competitive advantage, in some instances, we don't really know. If we somehow eliminate all defects then we may also be reducing our ability to evolve.

        Think about Steven Hawkings, maybe because he was confined to a wheel chair and locked inside his mind made him contemplate the universe more. I can't remember who, but I heard about some blind person who could

      • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

        it would seem that's not okay, but where to draw the line? Who draws the line?

        So, instead, ethicists and lawmakers draw the line waaaaaaaay over there, pretend that they didn't draw a line at all, and ask "who draws the line" without admitting that they are who and the line has already been drawn -- in the most useless way possible.

        Eventually the governed get tired of it and junk the lot. Case in point, contraception.

    • correcting faults or errors that lead to downs syndrome

      Downs is a bad example, since it involves an entire chromosome (thus "trisomy 21"). Huntington's maybe, since it's just dependent on copy number and you might be able to reduce that even with partially effective editing.

      correcting defects doesn't seem like it should be classed as 'designer'

      Many people agree, and I'm sure there will be lower regulatory barriers to "gene surgery" with demonstrated need. That said, CRISPR-Cas9 is not very suitable for either use. It has a lots of off-target effects (it interacts both specifically and nonspecifically with DNA), and replacing one a

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Downs is a bad example, since it involves an entire chromosome (thus "trisomy 21").

        It's a step up in complexity, but probably not impossible. If you can build a virus that replaces or injects DNA fragments, you can probably do so in a way that limits it to DNA that matches a pattern that exists only in one of the three chromosomes, and then inject enough stop codons to keep that strand of DNA from creating any mRNA chains that are long enough to cause problems. Then again, I am not a geneticist, so I coul

        • by Archfeld ( 6757 )

          WOW I have read your books, they were quite good. I did not make the connection until I saw your signature. Anything new on the horizon? Cheers mate, keep up the good work.

    • My gut agrees, but where exactly do you draw the line between "correcting" the gene that causes something like downs, and "correcting" the gene that causes "not an off-the-scale genius" in all *but* a tiny percentage of the population?

  • There are major issues that can be fixed by this. It could lead to early identification of genes that cause MS, Type-1 Diabetes, certain types of Cancer, sickle cell anemia, and tons of other diseases. Yes eventually identifying these genes will cause doctors to want to correct these genes and create a "designer baby" and we won't know all of the side effects of this when we do it, but do you think the people who suffer through these diseases give a shit about that.

    As human knowledge expands, it should be

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      There are major issues that can be fixed by this. It could lead to early identification of genes that cause MS, Type-1 Diabetes, certain types of Cancer, sickle cell anemia, and tons of other diseases.

      Been a while since I took bio and the science could have changed since then, but I recall learning that sickle cell actually confers some resistance to malaria. Looking at the CDC's website, it appears that this protection is only seen with carriers of the trait and not those actually expressing it. So would it not almost be beneficial to use this technology to edit the genes of children born to 2 carriers to effectively cut out or suppress one copy of the gene so that the child is simply a carrier and pr

    • Laws and regulations won't stop the abusers, it will just ensure that only the very wealthy can afford to safely "upgrade" their children. After all, so long as the designers limits themselves to using only those genes available from the parents (aka "the best possible child you could naturally hope for"), there's no way you could prove that someone was enhanced.

  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @04:36PM (#51522265)

    I would like to comment on the article, but unfortunately, I can't read it because it's a Forbes article, and I'm running an ad blocker because I don't intend to be infected with malware just to read Forbes articles.

    I propose that all of us, the editors included, agree to not post links to Forbes articles until they adjust their pro-malware stance and agree to provide a safe browsing environment.

  • these kind of experiments will use and further develop the same technology needed to make designer babies.

    not judging, just sayin'.

  • People manipulate their progeny all the time. Best schools, best athletic camps, etc. Those that have acquired wealth will always be able to afford the best of everything to give their kids an advantage. The rest of us have to work to become privileged. And many have.

    Fortunately, biology itself provides bounds. Height is limited by the size of ones bones, too much height and bones can't support the weight without further increases in bone diameter. People of extreme heights have numerous joint and bo

  • Seriously? when you get to pick the gender and colors.
    Realistically? when you can say "we should give him wings and a nice prehensile tail" and not be joking.

    Although giving your child bright pink hair is probably not the best idea.

    I think spots would look neat.

  • Not In Our Genes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @05:02PM (#51522517)

    (To borrow a title from Lewontin et al)

    The whole notion of "designer babies" is built upon the flawed presumption that who we are as individuals is solely dictated by specific genes or groups of genes, and that editing these genes can, GATTACA-style, determine with complete precision how all of the traits that make up our physiology and psychology are eventually expressed. I regard genetic determinism in a manner not unlike the role of Newtonian gravitation in physics: a useful model, but a grossly simplistic one that, from a philosophical perspective, should not be used to attempt to explain all phenomena. The notion that genetics can explain sociological phenomena is not something that I can hang my hat on, personally speaking. It simply doesn't have the mark of scientific reasoning. (Not that the opposing point of view is without its flaws, either!)

    Now, can we use gene editing to treat genetic diseases? Probably. Could we use the same approach to make a child grow taller? To give them a more desirable physical appearance? To improve their intelligence? Such a notion may be eventually possible, but in the foreseeable future, it is still firmly in the realm of science fiction. The issue is not whether to draw the line at all, but rather, where to draw the line, because the reality is that gene editing is here, it will not be legislated or moralized away, and it is going to be used to treat disease and advance our understanding of all kinds of health issues. The bottom line is that people are getting hysterical over something that is not even remotely in the realm of possibility at this time, not because they understand the science, but because they have been watching too many movies; when in the present reality, there is a real potential to deliver effective treatments and improvements to the quality of life.

    • The whole notion of "designer babies" is built upon the flawed presumption that who we are as individuals is solely dictated by specific genes or groups of genes, and that editing these genes can, GATTACA-style, determine with complete precision how all of the traits that make up our physiology and psychology are eventually expressed.

      Now try replacing "complete precision" to "well over 50%" and see how your argument goes.

      Now, can we use gene editing to treat genetic diseases? Probably. Could we use the same approach to make a child grow taller? To give them a more desirable physical appearance? To improve their intelligence? Such a notion may be eventually possible, but in the foreseeable future, it is still firmly in the realm of science fiction.

      Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. It's all already possible using the same technique. It's not like we'd have to invent a new gene for any of that, we can just pick genes that are known to be well-correlated to the desired traits. Of course, a lot of those genes are trade-offs...

    • built upon the flawed presumption that who we are as individuals is solely dictated by

      I was explaining to my girlfriend recently what a "strawman argument" was. Man, I wish I had had this as such a great example.

  • by other groups to create designer babies in parts of the world that would have no reservations or compunctions about doing so. what an incredibly stupid thing for Niakan to say

  • And having Jews wear yellow stars doesn't mean gas chambers.

    Considering how many times "the science" has gone from eating eggs being healthy to unhealthy and back again, do we really trust that gene editors know exactly what they're doing? Anybody remember thalidomide?

  • My children look remarkably like me. Lucky them!

    That's about as perfect as it gets. Who needs more?
  • "Editing Genes In Human Embryos Doesn't Mean Designer Babies yet "

    ...fixed that for you. ;-)

  • ...The Nukes We Just Launched Are Definitely NOT Headed Towards Israel.
  • by Chalnoth ( 1334923 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @07:35PM (#51523615)

    Genetic counseling is already reasonably common, and has most of the ethical concerns of "designer babies" already. Parents use genetic counseling most frequently to avoid heritable genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities.

    I have a hard time seeing how the trials required to even begin gene editing on human embryos that are brought to term could ever be justified, though. Modifying an embryo who is otherwise expected to become a healthy human just isn't something that I can see any ethics board allowing, as there are very likely to be significant side effects.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I have to wonder, and I have actually pondered this before, if we'll ever reach the point where it's socially acceptable to just chuck a malformed baby into the incinerator. Obviously, I don't think that's a good idea. At the same time, I look at the progression of society and how we've overcome so many taboos and what was often considered entirely heretical (in many cultures) is now considered normal. Now, I don't think chucking 'em in the incinerator is a good idea but I do wonder how far we'll go down th

      • I doubt it. I'd be willing to bet that killing born babies is so deeply ingrained in our psyche by evolution that it won't happen within a huge number of generations (read: thousands), perhaps longer.
        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I dunno? There are some societies that did so in the past, during famines and whatnot. One of the more recent ones would be them chucking babies off the cliff at Saipan and Okinawa but that's extenuating circumstances and they were throwing themselves off as well.

          I'd really not put it past humanity but I suspect you might be right - as in thousands of generations. That's discounting the mentally ill and only considering it as a societal norm. So, you might be right. I once wrote a short story about it a ver

  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Tuesday February 16, 2016 @11:23PM (#51524987)

    Take a moment to think about how much effort goes into mate selection. In terms of evolutionary biology, *everything* is about producing optimal offspring.

  • Just remember what happens to designer humans: "We offered the world ORDER!"

  • But really ... how long until it turns into designer babies?

    The answer is probably a negative number - if you count the date of fertilisation, or starting the preparation of the fertilised egg.

    Very likely labs in less regulated countries have already started trying to do this. whether they're working for locals, of for westerners who are desperate for $REASON$, and think that their $REASON$ is more important than the grounds for not doing it (yet) of multiple countries worth of health and genetics experts.

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