Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Designer babies - the first step towards destruction

In yet another example of things that can be done, but shouldn't, I offer the recent revelation that babies can now be made to order. Or at least one fertility clinic is touting that as its sales pitch.

Some may question the predictability and efficiency of the claims of this fertility clinic, but I don't think that matters. The question is not can it be done now or not, but if it should be done at all. I stand firmly against the idea. It's an abomination at every turn.

Basically what is being offered is the ability to choose the hair and eye color of an unborn child. Now that the cat is out of the bag, the next logical step is someone offering to guarantee the genetic purity of a child. Or that they can ensure that the child is superior to other kids in various criteria.

Sound familiar? It sounds exactly like the misbegotten warped and repugnant ideals of the Nazi Party.

As we have moved forward with out ability to alter genes and manipulate stem cells we have moved closer to giving some fool the potential to try to create a 'master race'. The fact that we don't understand all the things we can manipulate, nor their long-term repercussions on humanity has not hindered some scientist from trying anyway. The line between science fiction and outright insanity is getting more blurred by the day.

If we can pre-select the eyes and hair of a child, why not their color? Or their height? Maybe give them a better aptitude for learning, or art. Hell, why not design the child to be a fantastic scientist or business leader. Of course this will cost money. So only a very narrow group of people in the world will have this option. Until one day the Government (any government) decides to help out the poorer part of its nation.

Yep, then we get government sanctioned changes. Of course they might also slip in a tendency to be less intelligent, or more servile, or weaker. Not like the common person will ever understand enough to know if it's being done. Not like governments have never experimented on the populace (various Nazi experiments on Jews in WWII and the Tuskegee Experiments in the U.S. as just 2 examples of this in the last 60 years).

But this is all fiction, I'm just being extreme. Just like being able to pick the eye color of your kids was, until someone found a way to do it.

Yet there is another side to this dilemma. We don't know what the hell we are doing. Yes someone can figure out a way to change this or that. But we don't know why nature doesn't make that same choice.

Perhaps in giving the masses red hair (as an example) we are also dropping the ability to fight off a strain of the flu, or some other disease that right now affects no one. Suddenly a minor bacteria that has existed as long as we have becomes a life threatening foe to the prolonged existence of humanity.

Maybe we will activate recessive genes we have yet to identify and understand, that cause these manipulated beings to die of heart attacks or brain aneurysms by the time they hit 30. Or that they become infertile after age 25. Or that their kids will have these problems.

Let's go further into the science fiction that does not exist today, yet. Why not mass produce these kids to create armies. Something like a cross between the clones in Star Wars and the troops of Soldier. Unfeeling, barely human, super creatures that have one purpose - and that no one cares about because they aren't human. Until the day they care. Or something goes wrong.

All of these options are probable. In fact they all might happen together, or one after another. And worse things are equally possible. Why not remove the ability of any race you dislike from being able to procreate. Why not eliminate any child not up to the standards of the day. Don't consider that you could be destroying, or preventing, a genius like George Washington Carver, Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking because of their looks, weaknesses or ethnic backgrounds.

Yes it all sounds like a bad dream. I'm just ranting about nothing. It will never happen. Just like no one ever tried to make human clones - oh wait, they have. Well, its not like we have ever made a drug that turns out to be deadly to the user because we did not know what could happen down the road - oh wait, we have. Well at least mankind has never created anything that was supposed to be beneficial that has been turned into a weapon of mass destruction - need I say it again, we have.

The only difference between sci-fi and reality is time and effort. Given the stakes of determining the progeny of the human race, effort is not a question.

This is not something we should do. This is something that must be banned. No matter how innocent it seems today, the result in the future will only harbor pain to us all. And I say again

"Just because we can do a thing, does not mean we must."

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