Print 69 comment(s) - last by Master Kenobi.. on Aug 22 at 12:57 PM

  (Source: Columbia Pictures )

Professor Julian Savulescu  (Source:
The process would be similar to checking embryos for conditions like Down's syndrome

Imagine being able to design a human the way we use computer software to design every day items like clothing or furniture. University of Oxford Professor Julian Savulescu recently said that parents should have the choice to do such a thing, allowing them to create the kind of child they desire rather than leaving it to chance. 

According to Savulescu, the manipulation of genetics has evolved over the years and has already proven to be beneficial to those who are expecting. For instance, parents can use tests, which focus on particular genes in embryos, to see if their child will have certain conditions like Down's syndrome. 

While this type of testing is not seen as an issue, Savulescu said the testing of an embryo's genes to see what kind of personality flaws it could have has raised concern amongst the public -- and he believes it shouldn't.

"Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to to select ethically better children," said Savulescu. "They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others. If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring -- rather than consigning them to the natural lottery -- then we should." 

Savulescu's ideas have been compared to those of the Nazis, who adopted the eugenics movements during World War II. However, Savulescu argues that this is different because parents can choose to participate or not. They don't have to genetically alter their children, but they should be able to choose to, he said. 

"Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now," said Savulescu. "Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance." 

Savulescu posed this argument in a recent article in Reader's Digest

What do you think? Could eliminating potential character flaws in embryos create a perfect human race, or could there be serious, unseen implications with having so much power over this thing called life?

Source: The Telegraph

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RE: but...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/21/2012 9:02:43 AM , Rating: 2
Everyone should watch Gattaca, it's probably the most realistic portrayal of the end result if this sort of thing were to become common place.

You would have a permanent underclass of people who's parents couldn't afford to, or didn't chose to have their fetus perfected through gene manipulation. Discrimination and segregation will be soon to follow. It's not because one group of people thinks they are superior, it's because they KNOW they are.

Our imperfections are important to the evolutionary process. By trying to fix the present, we could be dooming our future. Traits that are undesirable today could evolve into essential ones much later from now. If we just wipe them out...who knows what could happen?

RE: but...
By FITCamaro on 8/21/2012 10:05:37 AM , Rating: 2
Yup that movie is the first thing that comes to mind.

RE: but...
By Master Kenobi on 8/21/2012 10:18:43 AM , Rating: 2
The question is should we allow people to be born at a disadvantage when we have the ability to prevent it?

There is no doubt that you will end up in a situation where some are better than others, right now the genetic lottery does this for us, some people are better than others. It really isn't much of a leap to let parents "stack the deck" to ensure their offspring have the best chance they can give. This is normal for pretty much every parent. Good parents want their offspring to have a better life/status/future than they had.

Our imperfections are important to the evolutionary process.

Thanks to modern medicine this has largely been derailed. People with problematic genetic traits live long enough to reproduce thus ensuring the traits remain in the gene pool. The only way your logic works is if people with abnormalities that cause a deficiency are not allowed to pass on their genetics to any offspring. Somehow I don't think that will be very popular with the masses.

RE: but...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/21/2012 10:50:18 AM , Rating: 3
The only way your logic works is if people with abnormalities that cause a deficiency are not allowed to pass on their genetics to any offspring. Somehow I don't think that will be very popular with the masses.

Aren't you talking about the same thing? What will happen to the human race when things like very dark skin or very light skinned albinos, red hair and freckles (gingers), short people, fat people, etc etc are all weeded out before birth and made more "normal".

See its' one thing to discuss this in terms of real disadvantages like birth defects etc etc. That's all well and good. But this goes far beyond that doesn't it? We're talking the ability to make your child "perfect", or whatever the current societies idea of "perfect" is.

Do we want a diverse society that learns to embrace imperfections, or at least tolerate them? Or the opposite.

I suspect these questions and more will fuel this debate for decades to come. I'm not even sure what side of the fence to be on. But there seems to be something decidedly...inhuman about the concept.

RE: but...
By FITCamaro on 8/21/2012 10:55:10 AM , Rating: 2
The difference is that genetics are fair to everyone. What you're proposing is that only the rich have the ability to make sure that they have superior and flaw free children.

Good parents also don't change what God gave them. Do I like seeing children born with disabilities? No. But things happen for a reason.

RE: but...
By tng on 8/21/2012 12:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote: let parents "stack the deck" to ensure their offspring have the best chance they can give.
Well... the problem with letting parents stack the deck is at what point do you stop it? Ultimately this does give us the world of GATACA, simply because of keeping up with the Jones, and we need our little darling to get into a good school.

RE: but...
By tng on 8/21/2012 12:33:27 PM , Rating: 2
I might add here that as in the movie, you would probably see a whole new lower class of people that would probably amount to how we view the illeagal alien mowing the lawn today, except that it would be us being viewed by a monster that we created.

RE: but...
By karndog on 8/21/2012 11:45:33 AM , Rating: 2
It's been a long time since i watched that movie, but if i recall correctly that was an extreme scenario because the Government and employers had eveyones DNA on record, so the enhanced citizens were almost reserved good careers while the "norms" were treated as second class citizens as you said and severely disadvantaged.

In reality if background checks like that were made illegal then there wouldnt be the segregation you see in the movie. Of course there would be the people who cant afford the "GM" babies, but they arent going to suddenly become obselete unless something drastic happens like trippling of IQ.
Depending on what the enhanced child does with his extra potential, the advantage could be no bigger than sending your kid to an expensive private school. And even with an IQ of 250, if all he wants to do is sit at home and smoke pot and play Xbox and party instead of going to medical/law school, then you might as well halve that IQ there and then.

I think knowing that they are born "disadvantaged," will just motivate the ones who truley want to achieve greatness even more so.

RE: but...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/21/2012 12:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
In reality if background checks like that were made illegal then there wouldnt be the segregation you see in the movie.

How would it be made illegal? You have no right to DNA privacy. You leave it everywhere you go. Your hair falls out, your saliva is left on a drink cup, an eyelash falls out. Just like in the movie, anyone could scan these and know everything about you.

Employers already have the right to drug test you, which can even include blood tests not just the urine tests. So is it THAT far fetched to imagine a Gattaca type future where everyone's finger is pricked to DNA scan employees blood?

Look I don't usually go around saying "Movie X will happen" and apply it to current debates. But Gattaca I thought portrayed a very realistic and relevant viewpoint on how society would change if this were to happen.

RE: but...
By karndog on 8/21/2012 12:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
It would be difficult, but it would have to be very strictly enforced with massive fines and deterrents. Obviously you cant stop someone collecting your DNA once it leaves your body, but companys caught using or amassing a bank of DNA to test applicants for job interviews instead of your actual credentials would have to be severely punished.
Even conduct job interviews via teleconference, so they don't have a chance to collect your DNA legally or illegally. If you get the job and you come in on your first day and are fired because they've done an illegal test, then that's grounds for unfair dismissal and discrimination, which even today is something employers take very seriously.

RE: but...
By MrBlastman on 8/21/2012 12:23:27 PM , Rating: 2
Gattaca was a great film but made one small mistake: That the people on the left of the bell curve will out-breed the right. I have dim hopes for the future of mankind. :)

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