One of my greatest concerns is not just designer babies per se, but how rapidly advancing technology for bioengineering will inevitably lead to genetic modification of children, primarily benefiting the wealthy. This will lead to the first time in history when actual physical and intellectual abilities will directly correspond to wealth and power, creating a human caste system from which there is no practical escape. Disagree? Let me know, because I’d love to be wrong.
- Designer Babies in Q1 2012
- Apr 15 / Mouse-Human Embryo
- Mar 17 / Mouse Embryos Grown in Mechanical Womb
- Mar 16 / US Senate to Mandate Insurance Coverage for Genetic Issues?
- Mar 16 / Removing Limits on Embryonic Research
- Mar 12 / Gene Editing for Higher IQ in a ‘Few Decades’
- Jan 27 / “The Dawn of CRISPR Mutants“
- Feb 2019 / The Problem With China’s CRISPR Experiment
- Background on Designer Babies
- Other Tracking & Related Posts
Designer Babies in Q1 2012
Apr 15 / Mouse-Human Embryo
Researchers hope that some human–animal hybrids — known as chimaeras — could provide better models in which to test drugs, and be used to grow human organs for transplants
I hadn’t really been thinking about this, but if you really want to break scientific research and bioengineering of humans away from ethical guidelines, one great way to do it is to do the research…outside of a human.
In a study published in the journal Nature, Dr. Jacob Hanna described removing embryos from the uteruses of mice at five days of gestation and growing them for six more days in artificial wombs. – NYT
This research was on a mouse embryo, obviously, but how far is the step toward gestating human embryo’s mechanically? Like all initial scientific advancements, it sounds great and harmless. And how great would it be if women eventually didn’t have to be the womb for human children? But then children can be produced like widgets, out of the public eye, by any corporation with enough money and power. Hmm…
Mar 16 / US Senate to Mandate Insurance Coverage for Genetic Issues?
This news could be good or bad, depending if it happens and how it plays out, but it’s at least good to see the government waking up to issues of genetic discrimination.
The Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act would require all private group and individual health plans to cover medically necessary services for any anomaly that requires medically necessary care for any body part that has lost bodily function, including severe oral and facial defects. – CNN
In this article from the MIT Technology Review, we learn that (a) scientists have long obeyed a 14-day-old limit on human embryonic research, and that (b) they don’t’ want to anymore.
For the last 40 years, the rule, which is law in some countries and a guideline in others, has served as an important stop sign for embryonic research. It has provided a clear signal to the public that scientists wouldn’t grow babies in labs. To researchers, it gave clarity about what research they could pursue. – MIT
And now they want to remove that limit to facilitate longer and more detailed research. With obvious concerns:
Others believe the long-term growth of normal embryos, or embryo models, would create a platform to explore the genetic engineering of humans. More fully developed embryos could be used to study the consequences of gene editing and other types of modification. That is, if genetically modified humans are to be created in the future, the modifications should first be tested for safety on lab embryos. – MIT
Man, this stuff is going to get out of control so fast…
Mar 12 / Gene Editing for Higher IQ in a ‘Few Decades’
Best-selling author Walter Isaacson explains to how CRISPR and related gene-editing technologies are leading to “enhanced” human features:
…Isaacson explains how doctors already use gene-editing technology to cure some genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia. Moreover, he predicts that “within a few decades” the tool will not only cure disease and modify physical attributes but also enhance complex features of an individual’s identity, such as memory and intelligence. – Yahoo Finance
Personally, I think he’s pessimistic. It’ll be much sooner than that. Start saving now for your new and improved baby. We’ll call it Better Baby. I should trademark that.
Meanwhile, concerns over abuse of CRISPR reached a fever pitch in 2018 when a scientist He Jiankui in Shenzhen, China, altered DNA in human embryos to make them more resistant to HIV. A Chinese court in December 2019 sentenced Jiankui to three years in prison over the “illegal medical practice.
I wonder if the Chinese government was just annoyed it had been made public?
Jan 27 / “The Dawn of CRISPR Mutants“
A good article related to a new book on CRISPR, The Mutant Project by Eben Kirksey. Just good background if you’re interested in the topic.
An anthropologist dives into the world of genetic engineering to explore whether gene-editing tools such as CRISPR fulfill the hope of redesigning our species for the better.
Feb 2019 / The Problem With China’s CRISPR Experiment
A great video for background on how CRISPR on human genes in China…
Background on Designer Babies
More to come, but this video is a good start. Yes, I do love Kurzgesagt:
Dec 2020 / The Age of Superhumans
The following video also demonstrates how things will start, with a focus on genetic diseases: “Various technological advances in the field of medicine through AI and CRISPR are going to radically alter our understanding of what it means to be human… Artificial intelligence is being applied in identification of harmful genes and treatment of disease:”
Nov 2015 / Dr. Jennifer Doudna on CRISPR
And some background from the researcher who helped start it all.
Full Disclosure / The Genius Sperm Bank
My interest in this topic is “probably” related to the fact that my grandfather was a world famous eugenicist who tried to use a sperm bank to breed smart white babies. He would have loved CRISPR, and you can bet he’d be using it to figure out how to breed smart white babies for rich white families. I’d just like to forget about all this, but it keeps popping up in the news, so here’s a little background:
- Dystopian Predictions for 2021
- Dystopia Tracking – Deepfake Technology (2021)
- Dystopia Tracking – Machine Surveillance (2021)
- War over Genetic Privacy