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How Technology will Influence Human Evolution

By Shane Staret on 2017-10-08

Modern medicine, traffic systems, communication, radar, information storage, and cat pictures all have one thing in common: they completely rely on a technological infrastructure. As you all probably know by now, technology is a big deal. It is responsible for improving life expectancy, increasing productivity, and providing endless entertainment through a ton of exciting and innovative Snapchat filters.


But what will technology be responsible for in the future? Hopefully not any kind of Artificial Intelligence takeover that leads to a Terminator-like scenario. Something that I am fascinated by is research into the genetic manipulation of humans. Genetic engineering, in general, has seemed to have developed a negative stigma over the years, with an even greater number of people showing caution towards intentional human genetic manipulation. Is there any legitimacy to this overwhelming concern?

The primary incentive to discover new information about human genetic engineering is its possible ability to cure diseases and prevent illnesses from occurring before a child is even born. And that clearly would be a huge positive. There have already been successful developments of gene therapy drugs for diseases like hemophilia, ADA, and Gaucher disease. Considering we have just begun to explore gene therapy and genetic engineering, it is unknown just how far scientists can go. There have been efforts to treat cancer through gene therapy as well, but obviously, we haven’t found the cure for cancer yet.

 

Personally speaking, being able to cure genetic diseases or to prevent babies from being born with them, would be remarkable. Having Crohn’s Disease can quite literally be a pain in the butt and if gene therapy could cure this disease, my life would probably change a lot.

But, obviously there are legitimate ethical concerns that people have regarding genetic engineering. If it is possible to change genes responsible for certain diseases, then of course, it is also possible to alter other, unrelated genes. And that is where designer babies come in. Designer babies are essentially babies that are “personalized” by their parents. Rather than just a random sperm and egg joining together to create a baby, both could be artificially altered to ensure the child is a boy, has blonde hair, is athletic, smart, immune to baldness, tall...and the list goes on. So, while being able to also prevent awful diseases, genetic engineering could also be used to give babies an advantage in life by picking positive traits. You may be asking yourself what the harm in this is, as it might not immediately be clear.

The major issue is that creating a designer baby would probably be really, really expensive. That means that only the rich would be able to design their child, which would give their kid an inherent advantage in life when they already are at an advantage because they are rich. Thus, more social tension is created between the commoner and the rich, as if we don’t already have enough of that.

Honestly, this is concerning to me as well. Let’s think about it for a second. The super-rich are able to throw loads of money at scientists who can design the perfect babies. These kids will grow up being healthy, smart, and attractive, while also having all the advantages of coming from a rich family. Meanwhile, everyone else just gets the genetic lottery; which can give you fortune or misery. Now I’m not a Sociology major, but I’m sure it isn’t too crazy to assume that this would create a major class divide between the near-perfect genetically engineered rich and the ugly and disease-ridden normies.

What do you think? Should designer babies be allowed to be developed, or should there be strict restrictions regarding how human genes should be altered? Should genetic engineering be forbidden even though the potential positives are astounding? I think the best scenario is that altering the genetics of humans and unborn children will actually be much less expensive than thought, so nearly everyone could afford to “design” their child to be smart, athletic, and most importantly, healthy.

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