Skip to main content

Genetic Selection Guidelines on Babies

Should people be able to choose their baby's sex, skin colour, intelligence, etc.? I propose a guideline that has the following foundation: the limitations of direct genetic engineering on babies should be the same as those of indirect selection through choosing who to have the baby with. 

Guidelines are important here because there is a fine line between the inalienable human right to reproduce by choice with whomever, and outright eugenics (creating a human "superior master" race).

I don't believe eugenics would be the main issue. After all, how many people would choose to have a child not genetically theirs because they objectively assess themselves as ugly and stupid (chuckle)?

I believe the main issue would be an amplification of the already existing set of expectations parents lay on their children before they are born.

A baby's general appearance can be selected indirectly by mate selection, therefore to that extent it should be available in genetic engineering. Thankfully, our genome is not as discerning as we are, and most features are not monogenic.

You could select your baby's rough height, skin/hair colour, rough facial features, but you could not select the precise nose-mouth size ratio. Eye colour itself is a combo of around 16 genes.

You can't select your baby's sex by choosing different partners - and so you shouldn't have that option through genetic engineering (again, not because there's something wrong or dangerous with that; there isn't; but because it would inflate parent expectations in a harmful way).

Many attractive features such as sense of humour, occupation, and appearance are not inheritable e.g. make up, exercise, so in fact any genetic engineering should be focused on optimising health; any remaining subjective features should be put through the "if I chose a partner" test.

If a feature could not be chosen indirectly through the partner, it should not be available directly via genetic engineering.


Popular posts from this blog

By-products of Evolution - why not everything has a purpose

Last time we looked at how certain major adaptations such as hair loss have enabled humans to survive over the millennia in different conditions, and when faced with competition from other species. Not everything about the human body has a specific purpose, though, in the sense that we expect it to. One example of such thing is the philtrum - that little channel leading from the base of your nose to the upper lip. Recent research suggests that this development dates back millions of years, and has been inherited from fish. Apparently, when human embryos develop their face in the womb, all parts of the forehead, mouth, etc come together and fuse where the philtrum is located.

Some adaptations, on the other hand, are no longer relevant not because of their nature, but because the environmental selection pressure for which they evolved has disappeared. For example, an East Asian's typical eyelid shape evolved as a result of higher light intensities in that area of the world, yet the …

The evolution of the human body

In order to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and be able to answer the question "Why do I look like this?", we must look back to our ancestry and their lifestyle, over a very long period of time. For the purpose of this analysis, let's look at the human versus the neanderthal. Recently there have been found neanderthal genes within the human gene pool, but the two species are different enough to compare, yet not too different (human versus fly would be too different).

As you can see, the construction of the human pelvis and toes is different, and the human has less hair. This results in humans being able to run easily for long distances, in the detriment of short-distance running which we are worse at. We sweat better, so we can do more long-term effort. This feat is essential to better settlements, as we can discover a larger area with potentially better resources. It might seem counterproductive to not be able to run quickly for a short period, when it comes …

4 Reasons Google's Calico Won't "Solve Death"

The on-line world has been taken ablaze by Calico's bid to end ageing, and thus death itself, but is this what they will actually focus on, and will they achieve it?

The fact is ageing will be reversed, and death by "natural causes" will go with it. The questions are "When?" and "By whom?".

Until recently, not a lot was known about the approach Calico would take in this venture dubbed "moonshot thinking" - a term touted by Google as the source of all considerable human progress throughout history. This we don't doubt, but is this what Calico is all about?

CNN's Dan Primack has revealed details about Calico's plan, which hint at a less-than-moonshot thinking approach, and cast a serious question mark on its ability to deliver the punchy TIME headline. Here is why:

1. The man with the idea, Bill Maris, arrived at the conclusion that the root of all death-causing disease is simply ageing itself. Not only is this widely known in the ant…