GATTACA

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That’s the title of an (in my opinion) under-rated movie. And relating to the news Rodney posted about below, it’s a possibility that cannot be ignored. There are currently around 6.7 billion humans on this planet. Once the capability to engineer things such as intelligence and physical fitness into newborns is possible, the idea that this could be made available to every new family is ludicrous. (I know Rodney wasn’t suggesting it would even be possible on a scale that large. He mentioned that these superior people could, for example, solve mass starvation.)

It will begin as an extremely expensive thing to have done. Only the wealthy will have access to it. It will continue to be a rather expensive prospect. The way I see that playing out is a filtering effect, first through the very wealthy, and “trickling” down over a century through the upper class, then to eventually the middle class. Of well developed countries. The rest of the world, impoverished and under-developed, will be left behind by a new race of genetically superior humans.

And let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The genes to manipulate intelligence alone are utterly unknown, and likely very complex. The same could be said for physical endurance. Or the ability to withstand radiation. It would be easier by far to breed these traits in. We know exactly how to do that. We’ve been doing it for 10,000 years. We’ve done it with wolves (dogs), ocelots  (house cats), grass (wheat), and a dozen other species I could think of. But we run into the same problem. Right now, couples who can’t conceive due to male infertility go to sperm banks and pay top dollar for the sperm of brilliant musicians, mathematicians and Olympic athletes. I can’t back this up with statistics, but I’d imagine these couples are upper middle class or higher. So, in a far less expensive form, these people are doing genetic engineering already. I would hypothesize that the people who have a good deal of money are more intelligent than average. Putting aside “old money”, it usually takes some intelligence to make a lot of money.

But the idea of breeding better humans has a quite of a bad rap thanks to the Nazis. Of course, they went about it all wrong. Just killing the disabled  (many who weren’t even born that way) and the perceived as “inferior” people was just beyond idiotic. So anytime someone brings up the idea is immediately dismissed as a lunatic or worse. But it’s far easier, cheaper, and actually accomplishes things that genetic engineering might take a century to be capable of.  Engineering hair color, eye color, height, weight, and the removal of genes that cause defects such as Down’s syndrome, TASACS, even autism should be possible very soon. And as long as the embryo is caught very early in its development, this should absolutely be something that I think should be covered under the usual pregnancy care. For everyone possible. Eliminating these things from our species should be our top priority in our venture into human genetic modification.

UPDATE: How could I forget the gene I carry, but is not activated in me, but most likely would be in any children I might have; diabetes. We need to eliminate that nasty fucker asap. Type 1 killed my father, his sister, and if I reproduce, there’s a near certain possibility that they’d have it. It typically skips a generation (for reasons unknown (still think we have a handle on genetics?)) but not always. I got lucky.

UPDATE 2: And sickle cell. Damn the list goes on and on. And a lot of them are attributed to one or two genes. Before we even begin to enhance ourselves, let’s focus on eliminating every last genetic defect we’ve got built in.

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