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Lallante
July 25 2012, 08:52:09 AM
The purpose of this forum is to allow us to discuss subjects without them being trolled or +1d into oblivion.

I therefore wish to open a topic that would almost certainly need to be locked in General. Eugenics.


Modern Eugenics

Applied preventatively in many countries around the world (though usually not described as such). Examples include:


United States - blood test prior to marriage in Indiana, Mississippi and Montana (mainly to test for syphilis) sometimes also test for geneticv incompatability. Public polls show support for eugenics to prevent inherited fatal genetic disease.

Israel - "Dor Yeshorim" - screening program for a range of genetic diseases used early in pregnancy, followed by voluntary ternmination. Blood tests are often also used for "matchmaking" (arranged marriages) to screen for genetic diseases common in the fairly inbred population. Positive tests can prevent the match,

Cyprus - prior to marriage both partners must be tested for the hereditary disease "thalassemia" - two positive tests legally prevent marriage/children.

China - carriers of certain genetic diseases may only marry if sterilized (some provinces also make the relevant health tests compulsory). Doctors may also rule a person "unfit" to marry/procreate.

Japan - forced sterilization and abortions for certain genetic disorders (+ leprosy).

Russia - forced sterilisation of pyschoneurologically or genetically abnormal persons (usually women).





Dysgenics

Dysgenics is the concept that those with low intelligence generally have higher fertility than those with high intelligence, and thus we are evolving towards lower intelligence. Average genotypic intelligence (now that the "Flynn effect" appears to have ceased in many developed nations) is declining, in the US at least.

Positive Eugenics

The term "positive eugenics" is one I've invented to refer to deliberate matchmaking of genetic stock in order to promote positive characteristics. This already happens on an individual level (It's rare, for example, for a PhD doctor to have children with someone who did not complete high school).

Personally, I want to aim for a Gattaca style system where we can gradually eliminate a lot of negative genetic traits. I also think appearance will only be relevant for another handful of decades before changing it easily will be possible, so I am not worried about "normalisation".

Thoughts?

Ophichius
July 25 2012, 09:11:38 AM
Conceptually, the idea of selectively breeding our own species for positive traits is interesting and useful in a very, very long-term view. The problem with any eugenics discussion/attempts at implementation is that A) You run into the legacy of that one German asshole and his buddies. B) It would be a human-driven system. The flaws and loopholes, and politics would invariably ruin it as an endeavor.

It's far easier to get people to accept a sort of 'self-selecting' eugenics as we have done, avoiding breeding when it would increase the probability of immediately harmful effects to the offspring. Anything beyond that is probably not feasible over the duration it would take to actually cause major improvements in the species.

-O

sarabando
July 25 2012, 09:26:54 AM
i fully support eugenics to eliminated things like downs and MS ect but i think we should draw the line at things like designer babies ect.

lt
July 25 2012, 10:15:26 AM
i fully support eugenics to eliminated things like downs and MS ect but i think we should draw the line at things like designer babies ect.

Can we? Will there not always be people pushing the border? And the more they push the bigger the risk/chance that it'll be 'the new standard'.

Kanv
July 25 2012, 10:33:49 AM
Can you please define "Flynn effect" so that everyone doesn't need to use the Google?

Rudolf Miller
July 25 2012, 11:28:05 AM
Won't there be a time when 'build your own baby' genetic workmanship will become reliable enough to take parental DNA and create a child guaranteed to get the best traits? I don't have any articles at hand but I remember recently reading about how there are goals with genetic mapping eventually being able to limit genetic defects and diseases.

Joshua Foiritain
July 25 2012, 12:08:21 PM
i fully support eugenics to eliminated things like downs and MS ect but i think we should draw the line at things like designer babies ect.

I really don't see the problem with designer babies, it would improve the quality of life for said babies which would most likely increase quality of life for the parents as well and it helps weed out unwanted genetic issues such as increased chances of getting various diseases which will improve the general population as designer people and regular people have children.

Plus if designer people have a reduced chance of getting major illnesses they will cost the health care system less and will be more productive. Improving humans helps everyone.

The only two arguments against it i think of its that's its unnatural, which is just perspective, people from 200 years ago would consider many things medical science does today unnatural and that it goes against the will of god, which i don't really consider relevant as every advancement pretty goes against the will of god and we cant exactly stop advancing.

Diicc Tater
July 25 2012, 12:25:00 PM
It's my responsibility as a perhaps to-be parent to make sure I don't put forth lizard babies.
Seriously. I'm waiting on the tests to show how fail my genes are together with the lady's. We will also take tests to see that all is alright if we get preggers.

We will abort if it's not all ok. If I can avoid having a child with congenital disorder I will do so. Wife demands this as well.

My personal opinion is that you should think and talk this trough before thinking about having a child. It's a big deal.
Hell, some people don't even think about their economics before popping one out.
Yes, I do think it's irresponsible to not plan at least a little ahead. It is after all another individual you are about to bring into (onto? :phear:) the world.
I see it as a personal responsibility.

As long as it's not used to eradicate gingers, I think it's OK. What's wrong with limiting the amount of children born with congenital disorders?

"Positive Eugenics". "Selective" might be better.
In my teens I read some crappy sci-fi novel where everyone was given a marker depending on their genetic profile. Only those whit matching markers would be allowed to reproduce. Don't want that.
(One of the guys was a halfblood alien who looked like shit. The girl with matching marker was not pleased.)

The balance between what is a desired genetic trait or not will be delicate. Do we try to tune the VMAT2 gene to reduce cases of anxiety, depression and perhaps even religiosity* (*which is not yet verified)?
Even so, Designer-babies are still babies.

Sacul
July 25 2012, 12:26:16 PM
There are some very well marked diseases like MS/ALS that you can screen for. But for most diseases its 'only' an increase in chance.
Using the example of my Bipolarity its genetic, its been tested and i have the so called markers. This means my kids will have a 15% chance of having bipolar disorder (its just a serotonine imbalance disease in its root cause), with 2 parents with bipo it will be 25% so i am told.
Now this doesnt mean they will get a lottery ticket style chance on life because besides the increased chance there also has to be a firm trigger, a process that is not understood fully yet its just clear that a emotional trauma or schock needs to happen to tip the scales.

My point being is that while eugenics sound ok to improve the genetic stock of humanity the lines arent clear cut. And history has given enough examples of slippery slopes when it comes to judging who needs to be sterilized and who not.

On the part of positive eugenics. There is a huge debate on nature vs. nurture. I personally believe you can give your kid a head start with good genes but its the nurture part that will make him or break him. Offcourse sometimes nature fucks up and you might have spawned some hell breed that likes to torture kittens but hey it isnt a exact science.

Shiroi Okami
July 25 2012, 12:38:45 PM
Eugenics is a very interesting area of science and as said earlier I think it's our best bet for eliminating a lot of diseases, especially stuff like MS and huntington's. However eugenics is a great idea in the same way that communism is a great idea. Great in theory, but doesn't work in practice due to humans being humans. It will end up as another method with which we can discriminate against our peers for our own benefit.

Gattaca is a good example actually in terms of genetic discrimination. Were designer babies to become commonplace you can be almost guaranteed the process would be horrendously expensive, thus further alienating the rich from the poor. Institutions like the one in Gattaca would come to exist, and those who did not have a flawless genome would be left by the wayside, when it is no fault of their own; people do not choose their birth. Over hundreds of years I suppose the technology would become old enough and common enough that genetically engineered humans became the norm, but the intervening years would be a time of much heartache for much of the human race. In my opinion anyway.

Another thing to consider is that while at the same time as genetic screening etc would eliminate a lot of hereditary diseases, the ability to pick and choose genes (especially when certain things are more popular or essential from society's viewpoint), would significantly reduce the genetic variation in the human race, increasing our susceptibility to known or unknown diseases that could come to plague us in the future

Lallante
July 25 2012, 12:40:59 PM
Can you please define "Flynn effect" so that everyone doesn't need to use the Google?

Gradual increase in average IQ in developed countries since records began. No proof as to cause but likely a combination of better diet, more scope for mental development etc.

Zeekar
July 25 2012, 12:54:35 PM
You forgot to mention the option of people becoming more familiar with those tests and became better at solving them because of that.

Shiroi Okami
July 25 2012, 12:57:17 PM
Can you please define "Flynn effect" so that everyone doesn't need to use the Google?

Gradual increase in average IQ in developed countries since records began. No proof as to cause but likely a combination of better diet, more scope for mental development etc.

Could that possibly be attributed to people in (Dare I say it) lower socio-economic groups and thus arguably less intelligent procreating more rather than actually being more fertile?

untilted
July 25 2012, 01:16:28 PM
However eugenics is a great idea in the same way that communism is a great idea. Great in theory, but doesn't work in practice due to humans being humans.

this made me chuckle, tho' i guess you didn't intend it. the phrase "humans being humans" implies an essential notion of human "nature" that is indifferent to "culture". a notion that looks in the context of eugenics even more absurd than usual. ;)

Aramendel
July 25 2012, 01:25:00 PM
i fully support eugenics to eliminated things like downs and MS ect..

+1. Whenever I see people whining about stuff like that "because it discriminates disabled people" I rage a bit inside. Seriously, fuck them sideways. Maybe we also shouldn't try to create a vaccinate to AIDS because it would discriminate HIV-positive people?

Designer babies... It has some negative aspects, but it could still be a necessary step towards a better life for everyone. The problem I see is that it could lead quite literary to a 2 class society which isn't only different culturally but also genetically. Because only the rich can afford them.
However, in time such modifications would get cheaper and cheaper so everyone can get them. And the possibilities are endless. A better immune system, a higher longevity, a total elimination of birth defects, a resistance to cancer and and and... I think it would be morally wrong to deny our descendants such a potential because we cannot make them fair for everyone from the start.

Lallante
July 25 2012, 01:30:10 PM
Can you please define "Flynn effect" so that everyone doesn't need to use the Google?

Gradual increase in average IQ in developed countries since records began. No proof as to cause but likely a combination of better diet, more scope for mental development etc.

Could that possibly be attributed to people in (Dare I say it) lower socio-economic groups and thus arguably less intelligent procreating more rather than actually being more fertile?

In this context "more fertile" means "procreating more".

Nartek
July 25 2012, 01:38:23 PM
IMO:

Eugenics has positive, and negative traits surrounding it. Gene Screening (or even health screening in general) prior to matchmaking is a trick used in domestic animals, and agriculture with positive and negative results. Not quite Eugenics, which is based around making human society stronger, but effectively the same thing.

And lets break down what I'm talking about when I talk about Eugenics:

Eugenics is (currently) a combination of Mendelian inheritance process, and genetic pre/post screening.

It sort of kicks evolution into high gear, but instead of natural selection, specific traits are included/excluded to produce an outcome that is not based around environmental "survival of the fittest" concerns, but rather, what the human deems to be good.

In that light, Eugenics, much like domesticated selective breeding programs, or GM crops... has the capacity to perform tremendous good in society. And, depending on environmental variables, could easily narrow the breadth of humanity to such an extent that we are a small change away from extinction.

I support Eugenics for a populace, in both a positive, and negative context. I think partners being aware of what they are getting into by marrying another individual is a wonderful thing. I do not agree with restricting the personal choice to continue with a marriage because of a specific result, however.

I think lowered birth rate modification to the human genotype would yield positive effects, but I have to temper that with the knowledge that unless you were in a position to dictate that to everyone... Whomever is left out would simply out-populate you.

Adopting a Negative Eugenics program needs to be handled with extreme care, and only be used for reasons that provide a definitive benefit to society, from a scientific standpoint. I.E. Aborting a child due to their hair color, or prohibiting parents from breeding because the mendelian process indicates a high probability for a non-social-impact problem (freckles, 6 fingers instead of 5, etc...) is a big no-go in my book. To put it concisely; fuck designer babies, I'll take the more diverse, less psycho society for 1000, alex.

A Positive Eugenics program would require definitive proof that 2 smart people produce a better child; and make that without regard to the environment in which they are raised. I.E. You take a newborn from a couple with 1 High School Diploma between them, and a Newborn from an astrophysicist+inventor, place them in an EQUAL environment, and see how they develop and turn out. And you do that multiple times, until you have a solid data set that proves it. Then I'll buy off on eggheads getting laid for the populations sake. Or, better yet, an egg+sperm harvest so you can create smart-babies on the fly, and use the lower intelligence population as a donor uterus.

But, using Eugenics as a way to get black haired, blue eyed babies without birthmarks is a bad move. Not just because it creates an "elite" society, but because humanity themselves tend to want what everyone else has; and that means a weakness in the system that you don't recognize before it becomes the standard of a generation can easily spell an extinction event.

Sponk
July 25 2012, 01:56:47 PM
The problem of dumb people used to be solved by conscription. That went away once politicians realised that an army full of bads is a bad army.

FourFiftyFour
July 25 2012, 02:38:50 PM
Many people get caught up in the naturalistic fallacy, that what comes natural is better than what doesn't.

This applies to natural birth, non monogamous relationships and the list goes on.

untilted
July 25 2012, 02:41:25 PM
Designer babies... It has some negative aspects, but it could still be a necessary step towards a better life for everyone. The problem I see is that it could lead quite literary to a 2 class society which isn't only different culturally but also genetically. Because only the rich can afford them.
However, in time such modifications would get cheaper and cheaper so everyone can get them. And the possibilities are endless. A better immune system, a higher longevity, a total elimination of birth defects, a resistance to cancer and and and... I think it would be morally wrong to deny our descendants such a potential because we cannot make them fair for everyone from the start.

but will you consider your descendants still as "your (grand-)children"?

or rather as some commodity you ordered at a lab, that should fulfill your desire for (genetic-)perfection to 100%? if the child doesn't turn out as promised (as the genes aren't as deterministic as many hope) will you file a complaint at the company about "bad quality" of their offered service? or will you still shrug it off as "fate"?

or the other way around - with possibility comes responsibility. if parents can't/won't afford the best of the best, will they be able to appease their children for not being "responsible" enough?

while the idea of a better world through technology sounds often desirable and is often portrayed as the present, just better, it is often forgotten that this better world of tomorrow likely won't resemble anything we experience today. but one thing will be certain, the better life everyone wishes for, won't come by technology (atleast not alone) - it never did. because discrimination, oppression and exclusion won't be solved by technology.

Nartek
July 25 2012, 03:12:45 PM
or the other way around - with possibility comes responsibility. if parents can't/won't afford the best of the best, will they be able to appease their children for not being "responsible" enough?

A Eugenics program has to be implemented on the basis that it benefits society. A Capitalistic endeavor would alienate precisely the people you are trying to help. (In other words, I would think Eugenics isn't to create something that isn't there, but to bring everyone up to a standard.) In that respect, any implementation of a Eugenics program without opening it up to the masses (basically a government funded project) will ultimately fail. You can't maintain a population from the elite few going downwards, but you can level the playing field. Once you start down the road of having, effectively, 2 separate species, you've just created the groundwork necessary to treat humans as domesticated animals.


while the idea of a better world through technology sounds often desirable and is often portrayed as the present, just better, it is often forgotten that this better world of tomorrow likely won't resemble anything we experience today. but one thing will be certain, the better life everyone wishes for, won't come by technology (atleast not alone) - it never did. because discrimination, oppression and exclusion won't be solved by technology.

I disagree with... hell, the majority of this. Class is in session:

A Technological innovation called the plough, enabled mass tracts of land to be farmed for agricultural purposes... most likely in the Nile region. This enabled the hunter-gatherer mentality to set down roots in a single, fertile locale and use the sustenance of a smaller area to accomodate a larger population.

Another technological innovation - the water wheel, harnessed the power of nature, and turned it to performing tasks that would take workmen/women much more time. It also lowered the danger, increased food capacity, and basically set the stage for the idle time necessary for:

The Calendar - Once day to day survival was out of the way, mankind started trying to measure the days. Not necessarily because they were budding solar scientists, but because being able to accurately predict the annual floods enabled them to maximise the growing season for an even larger yield. Calendars were tricky stuff, and figuring out when/where the floods would hit at a particular time required the use of some method of timing. Which leads us to:

Pottery - Pottery was used for a whole lot of stuff, but the prevalence of it in society did two things: It enabled mankind to create/develop specialized tools for instrumentation, and it allowed us to store things. Now, storing things is great, but in a society where trade is done on a barter system, it was important to know that you had your own goods, how many you had, and how old the stuff inside it was. That leads to:

Letters, and Numbers - Once you have those two things, and aren't in day-to-day survival mode, you get to start doing silly shit like debating with those words, on websites. But in order to get to that point, you pass by two very important things:

Mathematics, and Literature - Mathematics enhances the calendar, and literature enhances pretty much everything. At the time, math could be done with a stick in the sand, and writing was done primarily on clay tablets... but; it wasn't long before you get to a consistent material with which you can put your pen to...

Papyrus - Paper at the time, it allowed humanity with record keeping; which in turn enabled (in time) selective breeding, or herd culling based on statistics. Paper plus math allows for engineering, and long term projects to take effect (HELLO PYRAMIDS) It also enables long term establishment of specific rules that successive generations don't have to re-invent. Bring on a legal system, the scientific method, etc... (all in their own time, of course).

Now, I can keep going. I've watched "Connections with Ed Burke" recently. But suffice it to say that technology is the forerunner of a better life. And while it's quite easy to say "Technology alone didn't do these things"... It, more than anything else (I can be courageous, or brave, or loving all I want, but that doesn't make me more efficient at planting crops... I can't simply knock out another acre of wheat because I've got a great sense of humor, but if I got my hands on a plough... hells yeah...) See what I'm getting at?

Good.

Joshua Foiritain
July 25 2012, 03:54:09 PM
but will you consider your descendants still as "your (grand-)children"?

or rather as some commodity you ordered at a lab, that should fulfill your desire for (genetic-)perfection to 100%?
People consider adopted children their children and grand children so yes, why not a test tube baby?


if the child doesn't turn out as promised (as the genes aren't as deterministic as many hope) will you file a complaint at the company about "bad quality" of their offered service? or will you still shrug it off as "fate"?
Its impossible for the child to turn out as promised because nothing is promised. You get a baby which is genetically superior to a regular child which for the most part gives it reduced chances at various illnesses and possibly improved chances at other things. If it ends up doing crack at 16 then that's down to bad parenting, bad environment or just bad luck.

In nurture vs nature nurture is always the biggest factor. Intelligence for example is part nature, some people are born exceptionally smart or stupid, most people are born around average intelligence, the deciding factor in whether someone is smart or not is education which is relies on a child's desire to learn. A child that grows up in an environment that stimulates this is likely to be smarter then someone who grows up in an environment that stimulates other things. Genetic engineering might be able to shift the odds here a little bit but at the end of the day all the genetic engineering in the world isn't going to compensate for studying and taking an interest in the world around you.


while the idea of a better world through technology sounds often desirable and is often portrayed as the present, just better, it is often forgotten that this better world of tomorrow likely won't resemble anything we experience today. but one thing will be certain, the better life everyone wishes for, won't come by technology (atleast not alone) - it never did. because discrimination, oppression and exclusion won't be solved by technology.
While it wont come from technology alone it is most definitely driven by technology. New technology is required to make change, as Nartek above me points out, without the invention of papyrus/math/language we would have been unable to advance.

As for discrimination, oppression and exclusion, those will always be around as they are tools for achieving power and there will always be people wanting more power.

untilted
July 25 2012, 04:43:03 PM
Now, I can keep going. I've watched "Connections with Ed Burke" recently. But suffice it to say that technology is the forerunner of a better life. And while it's quite easy to say "Technology alone didn't do these things"... It, more than anything else (I can be courageous, or brave, or loving all I want, but that doesn't make me more efficient at planting crops... I can't simply knock out another acre of wheat because I've got a great sense of humor, but if I got my hands on a plough... hells yeah...) See what I'm getting at?

you missed the point.

it's not about the individual and its disposition, but society - or more specific: social practices and their changes.

e.g. the plough. while it certainly increased productivity, the shift from hunter-gatherer nomades to localized agriculture happened far earlier. while it certainly increased the efficiency of agriculture to a great degree, it didn't establish agriculture. the change in social practice happened before the technology "arrived".

technology is in this sense a pretty specific answer to a posed social problem: e.g. how can we support an increasing population? a possible answer would be limiting population growth, e.g. making bearing children a privilege, casting individuals/families out to create a new village. another possible answer would be increased productivity, either through technology (e.g. the plough or advanced irrigation) or through new social practices like slavery.

or all those techniques of written communication: these didn't develop by themselves but in the context of societies that grew larger and larger where the administration and excertion of power based on the spoken word grew difficult if not impossible. actually i wouldn't put all sorts of communication in the category of technology (in the sense of "material culture" like pots and ploughs) but cultural practices.

or science (in it's earlieast incarnation in connection with religious practices) became only possible as there 1.) was a surplus to support unproductive members (not everyone had to be a farmer) and 2.) there was a social structure to support this unproductive behavior (instead of everyone working less, a few stopped working and the rest worked the same as before). if you want, you can call it the economic and political foundations. while the economic foundatios certainly relied on technology, the political ones hardly did .. they relied on power.

------------------------

edit: to get back on track ... one of the questions i'm asking myself in regards to eugenics is the following: will we live in a better society through this? and what would a better society look like? is freedom from physical defficiencies enough? or will the technology that leads to this freedom from "nature", actually lead to new - and subtler - forms of limitations and opressions that wouldn't be in place without it?

if you want you can use Foucaults concepts of "biopower" and "biopolitics" - power/policy not aimed at the individual but at the population. but at the same time the subjectification ("Subjektivierung") of the individual is quite closely intertwined with this form of power. so while the effect of these practices of genetic engineering likely won't be too noticeable for the individual body, the effect on the individual as subject likely will be.


People consider adopted children their children and grand children so yes, why not a test tube baby?

there's a subtle but important difference - the child exists already. while the notion of biological parenthood isn't fulfilled, the concept of parenthood itself stays pretty much untouched - the parents have no "say" in the initial physical constitution of the childs body. they take responsibility for the qualities of rearing, not for the quality of bearing. with the option of genetic engineering (how advanced they may or may not be) this changes fundamentally.

NoirAvlaa
July 25 2012, 05:19:57 PM
The only way I could possibly consider it to exist is for not allowing parents procreate with diseases that will definitely affect the child, ie. HIV, sickle cell. Otherwise I don't think it should even be considered to "breed the most intelligent only" etc as in my opinion a lot of that is more to do with society that genes.

We will also always need someone to sweep the streets and take our bins etc.

DevilDude
July 25 2012, 06:27:50 PM
I tend to file Eugenics into my "good ideas humanity isn't ready for" section. As has been stated humans being humans, at this time we'd almost certainly fuck it up. We're more likely to hit the singularity and establish ourselves as a post scarcity society before we sort out all the illogical stupidity tied up in our own procration. In fact hitting the singularity and becoming something more than we are now is probably a prerequisite for being mature enough as a species to start actively controlling our own evolution.

Aramendel
July 25 2012, 06:29:48 PM
We will also always need someone to sweep the streets and take our bins etc.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that would be done by robots in 50 years.

definatelynotKKassandra
July 25 2012, 08:25:20 PM
The only way I could possibly consider it to exist is for not allowing parents procreate with diseases that will definitely affect the child, ie. HIV,

You know that nowadays babies born to HIV-positive mothers only get infected ~1% of the time assuming proper medical care, right?

If you want an example of the sort of thing that it's really hard to argue against deliberately selclecting against, look at something like Huntingtons (simple test, close to 100% diagnostic accuracy, no beneficial side-effects like with sickle cell).

definatelynotKKassandra
July 25 2012, 08:26:02 PM
We will also always need someone to sweep the streets and take our bins etc.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that would be done by robots in 50 years.

Would you be surprised if it wasn't?

Aramendel
July 25 2012, 09:03:17 PM
We will also always need someone to sweep the streets and take our bins etc.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that would be done by robots in 50 years.

Would you be surprised if it wasn't?

Of course not. We cannot really reliably predict the future in such time periods. Too much stuff can happen.

They are however a very realistic possibility. Just look at the room cleaning robots we have today.

The point being is - "shit jobs" get eventually phased out with technological progress. How many people (in the developed world) actually *manually* plant seeds for a living? Or manually cure hides with piss? There will always be some sort of "lowest tier" for jobs, but the worst (and that usually means: most simple) jobs keep vanishing because machines can do them better.

Smuggo
July 25 2012, 09:36:50 PM
i fully support eugenics to eliminated things like downs and MS ect but i think we should draw the line at things like designer babies ect.

Why? If you asked someone who had Downs Syndrome or MS if they would rather have never lived at all than lived with a disability, I'm doubtful many would say yes.

Living with disability might be hard, but hardship is part of life and being 100% healthy is certainly no recipe for happiness either so who are you to pass judgement on the worth of someone's life before they are even born?

Rudolf Miller
July 25 2012, 09:49:15 PM
i fully support eugenics to eliminated things like downs and MS ect but i think we should draw the line at things like designer babies ect.

Why? If you asked someone who had Downs Syndrome or MS if they would rather have never lived at all than lived with a disability, I'm doubtful many would say yes.

Living with disability might be hard, but hardship is part of life and being 100% healthy is certainly no recipe for happiness either so who are you to pass judgement on the worth of someone's life before they are even born?

Ask the same question to the parents. I bet their answers may be a bit more muddled.

Aea
July 25 2012, 10:20:26 PM
I'm surprised somebody with a Biology background hasn't chimed in on the genetic and evolutionary problems of Eugenics and Designer Humans.

Genetic variation and mutation are extremely important to any species's success and are the driving forces behind evolution. Unfortunately the large majority of mutations are detrimental to the survival of the organism, and from a human perspective dramatically lower the quality of life. It can be assumed that screening both parents and fetuses for severely debilitating mutations (e.g. Trisomy 21) or hereditary conditions (e.g. Huntington's disease) is going to have an immediate and lasting positive effect.

There will of course be those that argue that disrupting the "nature of things" and/or recommending against procreation or abortion is morally wrong. There will also likely be a far larger group who believe that eliminating diseases that greatly reduce quality of life of the individual, place a burden on caretakers and carry an enormous social and economic cost is an overall net-positive.

Designer babies on the other hand are a wholly different ballgame that I think are an very bad idea. So bad I don't think it should even be suggested as a possibility without an extreme leap in our understanding of human genetics and cultural evolution. Two main reasons for this: 1) We simply don't have a good understanding of the human genome, and gene interactions, 2) Designer Babies will lead to selection of socially preferred genes and reduce genetic diversity.

The first will be solved with time, the second is a more fundamental problem. There are basically three main categories that I think we would want to select for: Physical Fitness, Intellectual and Psychological Faculties and Sexiness. I'm not sure the latter is even a real word, but you should be able to get the point. In most parents minds having a cute baby and an attractive adult will probably be number one priority. We'd likely be creating a world where most people would opt for combinations considered sexy and go down a path of uniformity. This reduction of genetic diversity would not be a good thing. But this becomes a more significant problem when we consider intelligence.

There are hundreds of different personality types, and there are many, many (much less documented) differences in the way that people think. The Autism Spectrum is seen quite popularly as something thats extremely bad, yet many of the sub-types within actually grant significant benefits. Somebody might be an extreme introvert yet absolutely brilliant at mathematics. Another person may be seen as intellectually un-gifted yet extroverted and able to bridge and communicate effectively. Somebody can be extremely rigidly logical, yet another person may think in unusual and creative ways. All types of people come together to form effective and productive societies. Objectively not one of these combinations is necessarily worse or better. But given the opportunity to choose I don't think humans are capable of being objective. As with appearance, we would be tempted to choose what we see as being the most immediately valuable or socially attractive.

Then there's also the huge and unconsidered human aspect of designer babies. We have an fairly prolific problem in society of being unhappy with our bodies, our minds, our attractiveness. Yet there is some solace in that what we turned out to be is an random combination of our parental genes. But what if your parents choose for you? What cost would this have on psychological decisions when we have humans become created that grow up with the knowledge that they could have been what they see as the perfect combination?

Of course many of these problems are perhaps answered if we had a single entity in control of these decisions. But the future doesn't seem likely to have such a large, and arguably very socialist power structure coming into being.

Evelgrivion
July 26 2012, 01:00:42 AM
Eugenics is, frankly, a non-starter from an ethics standpoint. In spite of the good intentions of eugenics, any program aimed at improving human breeding stock would require giving a substantial quantity of personal liberty to a central authority. This central authority would wield a tremendous amount of power over people's lives for the sake of fulfilling an ambition that would take many generations. Eugenics is the kind of thing that looks attractive to two groups; far sighted planners with the best intentions, and politicians who like the prospect of more power. Neither group offers the promise of a better life to anyone living, sans the people who want and can afford to engineer their children to fit the zeitgeist, while opening the door to new kinds of abuse.

There are much better problems that could be solved by the central planning needed to enact an ideal eugenics program, such as energy and food supplies. Eugenics is a hopeless cause; there is no way to improve mankind without denying liberty, and it's comically easy to imagine how eugenics could be abused for personal gain or for flaunting power.

XenosisReaper
July 26 2012, 02:52:42 AM
The issue I have with designer babies can be summed up as thus: when everyone is perfect, no one will be.

Aramendel
July 26 2012, 07:21:21 AM
Why? If you asked someone who had Downs Syndrome or MS if they would rather have never lived at all than lived with a disability, I'm doubtful many would say yes.

Living with disability might be hard, but hardship is part of life and being 100% healthy is certainly no recipe for happiness either so who are you to pass judgement on the worth of someone's life before they are even born?

Because they are not alive before this. And take, if born, the place of someone healthy.

The argument is not "If you have disabilities you have no right to live". The argument is "You as parent should be able to decide if you rather want to have a child with birth defects or not instead having to rely on random chance." If a couple finds children with Downs Syndrome adorable they can happily have them.


Also, "100% healthy is certainly no recipe for happiness"... that is a very bad argument. There exists no fail-safe which makes you to 100% happy. Arguing that "x does not matter because to has no sure chance of achieving y" would mean that nothing in existence does matter.

The only thing what matters is how likely x does achieve y. Would you seriously argue that being healthy has not an higher chance to make you happy than being disabled?


Eugenics is, frankly, a non-starter from an ethics standpoint. In spite of the good intentions of eugenics, any program aimed at improving human breeding stock would require giving a substantial quantity of personal liberty to a central authority.

Eugenics does not has to be organized by a central authority. Parents being able to decide if they want to remove birth defects or genetic illnesses from their babys DNA would also be classified as Eugenics.

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 07:47:52 AM
Why? If you asked someone who had Downs Syndrome or MS if they would rather have never lived at all than lived with a disability, I'm doubtful many would say yes.

Living with disability might be hard, but hardship is part of life and being 100% healthy is certainly no recipe for happiness either so who are you to pass judgement on the worth of someone's life before they are even born?

Because they are not alive before this. And take, if born, the place of someone healthy.



So healthy people have more right to life?

While I support a woman's right to seek an abortion, I don't think this should extend beyond the simple right to choose to be a parent or not.

At the end of the day, having children is full of ups and downs and is hard work but can also be rewarding. If people start trying to weed out what are viewed as "undesirable" traits (whatever they may be) then we end up becoming utterly homogeneous and will ultimately be worse off because of it.

Aramendel
July 26 2012, 09:08:59 AM
So healthy people have more right to life?

No, both have equal rights.

Does the disabled person have more rights to live because it happened first? No? If both have equal rights to live it is up to their parents to decide what they rather would have.


At the end of the day, having children is full of ups and downs and is hard work but can also be rewarding.

Same argumentation fallacy as in your previous post. *Everything* can have rewarding moments. You take something which applies universally and try to use it as argument for or against a certain thing.

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 09:33:44 AM
So healthy people have more right to life?

No, both have equal rights.

Does the disabled person have more rights to live because it happened first? No? If both have equal rights to live it is up to their parents to decide what they rather would have.


At the end of the day, having children is full of ups and downs and is hard work but can also be rewarding.

Same argumentation fallacy as in your previous post. *Everything* can have rewarding moments. You take something which applies universally and try to use it as argument for or against a certain thing.

Then why try and be so selective about something where you cannot possibly know how things will turn out?

lt
July 26 2012, 09:42:06 AM
i fully support eugenics to eliminated things like downs and MS ect but i think we should draw the line at things like designer babies ect.

Why? If you asked someone who had Downs Syndrome or MS if they would rather have never lived at all than lived with a disability, I'm doubtful many would say yes.

Living with disability might be hard, but hardship is part of life and being 100% healthy is certainly no recipe for happiness either so who are you to pass judgement on the worth of someone's life before they are even born?

Ask the same question to the parents. I bet their answers may be a bit more muddled.

I think you are wrong there. It's their kid, they love it regardless.

Aramendel
July 26 2012, 11:01:08 AM
Then why try and be so selective about something where you cannot possibly know how things will turn out?

By that logic it makes no sense at all to decide about anything.
"Why should I got to uni when I cannot possibly know it will lead to better life for me?"

There exist not assurances about a certain way being the "better" one. There are, however, probabilities. Let me ask you again:

Would you seriously argue that being healthy has not an higher chance to make you happy than being disabled?

And to expand this, would you seriously argue that parents have not higher chances of getting happiness from a healthy child than from a disabled one? Would you seriously claim that you get on average equal joy from the company of a person where you can have an actual conversation with as one whose mental level is (and keeps on) that of a small child - or worse?

If you could freely choose between both - healthy or disabled - would you throw a coin or pick a certain one? That's your answer right there.

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 11:19:59 AM
My answer is that the choice should not be given at all because to make such a choice is immoral, regardless of how scientifically feasible it might be.

Aramendel
July 26 2012, 11:24:44 AM
My answer is that the choice should not be given at all because to make such a choice is immoral, regardless of how scientifically feasible it might be.

And who decides that is immoral? You? Who gives you the right to decide what is right or wrong for others?

If a couple think it is immoral they are could happily not use the option. It's about choice. Refusing someone this choice is just as bad as enforcing it.

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 11:28:57 AM
My answer is that the choice should not be given at all because to make such a choice is immoral, regardless of how scientifically feasible it might be.

And who decides that is immoral? You? Who gives you the right to decide what is right or wrong for others?

If a couple think it is immoral they are could happily not use the option. It's about choice. Refusing someone this choice is just as bad as enforcing it.

Taking someone's right to life because they don't fit your required criteria of what a human being should be like is immoral, and a very dangerous line of thinking and history has demonstrated this time and time again.

NoirAvlaa
July 26 2012, 11:36:34 AM
My answer is that the choice should not be given at all because to make such a choice is immoral, regardless of how scientifically feasible it might be.

And who decides that is immoral? You? Who gives you the right to decide what is right or wrong for others?

If a couple think it is immoral they are could happily not use the option. It's about choice. Refusing someone this choice is just as bad as enforcing it.

Taking someone's right to life because they don't fit your required criteria of what a human being should be like is immoral, and a very dangerous line of thinking and history has demonstrated this time and time again.

Killing a person for it is wrong. Stopping that person existing before they exist is a different matter. If you were told by a doctor early on in pregnancy "This child will definitely be mentally disabled if you have it" are you seriously telling me you wouldn't even consider abortion and to try again for a child that will be normal and healthy? At that stage it's up to the parents whether or not to have the child, it's not a decision anyone else can make. Do you use condoms? Because that's technically "taking someone's right to life".

Now if you were told "We can change your child's genes slightly so they definitely won't be disabled or have a life threatening disease" are you telling me you wouldn't take that option because messing with the human genome is immoral?

Designer babies shouldn't really be an option in my opinion, but using science to stop a problem before it even exists should definitely be an option if it's possible.

Aramendel
July 26 2012, 11:37:43 AM
Taking someone's right to life because they don't fit your required criteria of what a human being should be like is immoral

Except you do not take away someones right to life. You confuse it with "kill all disabled persons" atrocities.

It is about the polar opposite - deciding what life to create. Both a healthy and disabled person have equal rights to live. You can either create one at random or decide to create one specifically. You cannot create both. There is nothing immoral in refusing to roll randomly.

To expand, "the right to life" is in that case a zero sum. Because that of the healthy and that of the disabled person cancel each other out. What remains is what the parents think is "right".

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 11:44:54 AM
My answer is that the choice should not be given at all because to make such a choice is immoral, regardless of how scientifically feasible it might be.

And who decides that is immoral? You? Who gives you the right to decide what is right or wrong for others?

If a couple think it is immoral they are could happily not use the option. It's about choice. Refusing someone this choice is just as bad as enforcing it.

Taking someone's right to life because they don't fit your required criteria of what a human being should be like is immoral, and a very dangerous line of thinking and history has demonstrated this time and time again.

Killing a person for it is wrong. Stopping that person existing before they exist is a different matter. If you were told by a doctor early on in pregnancy "This child will definitely be mentally disabled if you have it" are you seriously telling me you wouldn't even consider abortion and to try again for a child that will be normal and healthy? At that stage it's up to the parents whether or not to have the child, it's not a decision anyone else can make. Do you use condoms? Because that's technically "taking someone's right to life".


It's not the same thing at all IMO. Using contraception or having an abortion are a choice to be a parent or not, rather than a choice about what type of child to have. If you choose to have a child, then you must accept what that child is like, warts and all.

Human beings designing future human beings according to their own flawed ideals of what we should be like is not beneficial to us at all.

NoirAvlaa
July 26 2012, 11:51:53 AM
My answer is that the choice should not be given at all because to make such a choice is immoral, regardless of how scientifically feasible it might be.

And who decides that is immoral? You? Who gives you the right to decide what is right or wrong for others?

If a couple think it is immoral they are could happily not use the option. It's about choice. Refusing someone this choice is just as bad as enforcing it.

Taking someone's right to life because they don't fit your required criteria of what a human being should be like is immoral, and a very dangerous line of thinking and history has demonstrated this time and time again.

Killing a person for it is wrong. Stopping that person existing before they exist is a different matter. If you were told by a doctor early on in pregnancy "This child will definitely be mentally disabled if you have it" are you seriously telling me you wouldn't even consider abortion and to try again for a child that will be normal and healthy? At that stage it's up to the parents whether or not to have the child, it's not a decision anyone else can make. Do you use condoms? Because that's technically "taking someone's right to life".


It's not the same thing at all IMO. Using contraception or having an abortion are a choice to be a parent or not, rather than a choice about what type of child to have. If you choose to have a child, then you must accept what that child is like, warts and all.

Human beings designing future human beings according to their own flawed ideals of what we should be like is not beneficial to us at all.

You're mixing up "Designer babies" with "Allowing parents to have a child that doesn't have downs syndrome".

Are you telling me that having less people with downs, sickle cell, huntingdons is a bad thing? It's hardly a flawed ideal to think that not having a life crippling disorder is a good thing.

In nature these people definitely wouldn't have survived, and while it's good that we now care for them and give them the best quality of life we can, it would still be beneficial to all involved if we could remove these problems from the outset and have a member of society that is able to(if they want) become a productive member of the community.

e: Your post also seems to say "It's fine for the parents to abort the foetus, but as soon as they alter it to make it healthy that's BAD".

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 12:04:35 PM
You're mixing up "Designer babies" with "Allowing parents to have a child that doesn't have downs syndrome".

Are you telling me that having less people with downs, sickle cell, huntingdons is a bad thing? It's hardly a flawed ideal to think that not having a life crippling disorder is a good thing.

In nature these people definitely wouldn't have survived, and while it's good that we now care for them and give them the best quality of life we can, it would still be beneficial to all involved if we could remove these problems from the outset and have a member of society that is able to(if they want) become a productive member of the community.

e: Your post also seems to say "It's fine for the parents to abort the foetus, but as soon as they alter it to make it healthy that's BAD".

They're just different degrees of the same thing as far as I can see. Where do you draw the line? Is it okay to abort a foetus that might be short, or those with red hair or maybe those with a predisposition to having flaky skin?

It's quite possible for someone with a genetic disorder to be a productive member of society. Again, people with genetic disorders still have lived. Yes they have challenges to face that maybe the rest of us don't but if you asked them if they would prefer to have never existed I doubt they would say yes.

And yes, I do believe it's fine to abort a child because you do not wish to be a parent. It's a very different type of choice to the one you are supporting. If you make the decision to have children then you should have to live with that choice however much hardship it might bring you.

NoirAvlaa
July 26 2012, 12:11:31 PM
The choice isn't between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist or not. The choice is between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist with or without that disorder.

Drawing the line is changing genes for any other reason than to fix a disorder that will affect your ability to function. Ginger hair does not affect your capacity to learn, grow, speak and get a job as far as I'm aware.

We're all talking about if it is right to remove these disorders before they're an issue. You're talking about designer babies, yet for some reason you can't see that.

You also say that it's possible for people with these disorders to become a productive member of society, which it is. But I'd be willing to bet that they're the outliers and not the main bulk. You just hear about them more because "oh what a great life success story to put in the newspaper".

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 12:18:50 PM
The choice isn't between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist or not. The choice is between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist with or without that disorder.

Drawing the line is changing genes for any other reason than to fix a disorder that will affect your ability to function. Ginger hair does not affect your capacity to learn, grow, speak and get a job as far as I'm aware.

We're all talking about if it is right to remove these disorders before they're an issue. You're talking about designer babies, yet for some reason you can't see that.

You also say that it's possible for people with these disorders to become a productive member of society, which it is. But I'd be willing to bet that they're the outliers and not the main bulk. You just hear about them more because "oh what a great life success story to put in the newspaper".

I get the argument I just don't agree with it. Variety is an important part of our lives and any attempt to reduce the natural variety we get from nature is not something I think we should pursue. There's also an evolutionary concern. We could genetically remove a mutation which could eventually serve some unseen evolutionary advantage to us, but was quashed because it didn't meet the standards set out.

And yes, it is mostly the outliers that go on to do things in society, though a large part of that is probably due to culture and attitudes. Also, I'm not sure that making disability even more marginalised than it already is would help that.

NoirAvlaa
July 26 2012, 12:29:50 PM
The choice isn't between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist or not. The choice is between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist with or without that disorder.

Drawing the line is changing genes for any other reason than to fix a disorder that will affect your ability to function. Ginger hair does not affect your capacity to learn, grow, speak and get a job as far as I'm aware.

We're all talking about if it is right to remove these disorders before they're an issue. You're talking about designer babies, yet for some reason you can't see that.

You also say that it's possible for people with these disorders to become a productive member of society, which it is. But I'd be willing to bet that they're the outliers and not the main bulk. You just hear about them more because "oh what a great life success story to put in the newspaper".

I get the argument I just don't agree with it. Variety is an important part of our lives and any attempt to reduce the natural variety we get from nature is not something I think we should pursue. There's also an evolutionary concern. We could genetically remove a mutation which could eventually serve some unseen evolutionary advantage to us, but was quashed because it didn't meet the standards set out.

And yes, it is mostly the outliers that go on to do things in society, though a large part of that is probably due to culture and attitudes. Also, I'm not sure that making disability even more marginalised than it already is would help that.

In evolutionary terms, a lot of these people would die out in nature or be a dead end of the evolutionary cycle. It is only because of the society we have now that they are able to maintain their quality of life, or even have life. That argument also must include that fact that for that to happen then these people must procreate, and a lot of them are physically or mentally incapable of such a thing, as bad as that might sound. I'm not saying all, but most. I know there are exceptions.

Aramendel
July 26 2012, 01:00:00 PM
If you make the decision to have children then you should have to live with that choice however much hardship it might bring you.

Why? If you keep flying your immoral flag see my last post - why it is immoral to be able to decide which life you want to create? If beneficial - why it is impossible that it is beneficial? You seem to think that the "natural" DNA is a flawless gem. It isn't. It is something random which was then tempered by survival of the fittest.


We could genetically remove a mutation which could eventually serve some unseen evolutionary advantage to us, but was quashed because it didn't meet the standards set out.

If we can put it out we can put it in. From an evolutionary viewpoint manipulating our own DNA is if anything greatly beneficial because we can increase our evolutionary speed by several orders of magnitude.
The survival of the fittest aspect still applies - if someone removes a certain characteristics from his/her children and said characteristics has a hidden beneficial aspect then the children of other people will have an advantage. Also, loosing certain characteristics happens all the time naturally as well. By doing it ourselves we can reintroduce them while in nature those gens would be lost forever. There are things called "gene databases".
Another thing is that we can avoid getting steered into an evolutionary dead end by directing our evolution ourselves. Also something which happens naturally all the time. Which *cannot* just reverse it naturally. If a species gets steered into a dead end by blind evolution it's extinction time, baby!

Seriously, do not even try to play the "Evolution" card here. It so massively is in favor of eugenics it isn't even funny.


And yes, it is mostly the outliers that go on to do things in society, though a large part of that is probably due to culture and attitudes. Also, I'm not sure that making disability even more marginalised than it already is would help that.

You are seriously claiming that someone with downs is in the outliers mainly because "due to culture and attitudes" and not because the only jobs he can do are those which nowadays machines can do better?

Pattern
July 26 2012, 01:03:02 PM
I don't think I'm taking a bold stance by saying that any real attempt at eugenics is indefensible. Practically speaking, though, eugenics is just as much of a bust as it is morally. We can't positively select for "better people," and we may face dire consequences if we try to weed out genetic problems, too.
"Should" is a rather vague English word. Saying we "shouldn't" do something can mean that it is immoral to do it or that it won't have the desired result. When it comes to eugenics, we tend to circle around the first kind of "shouldn't," without paying attention to the second. Eugenics programs of the past have lead to attempted genocide, mass sterilization, and garden variety needless suffering. There are plenty of reasons for people to cut off the conversation about eugenics at the moral. Too often, though, that leaves the practical drawbacks unexamined. Beyond the possibility of bungling the job, there are concrete reasons why eugenics just wouldn't work.

Not All Animals Respond to Eugenics The Same Way

One of the primary arguments for practical eugenics resides right in a number of people's homes. There's no denying the effects of selective breeding on a species. Over only a few thousand years, humans have managed to breed in, or out, any number of traits when it comes to dogs. Certain breeds are smarter, stronger, faster, or bigger. It's proof of concept that selective eugenics can produce desired results.

But humans aren't dogs. In fact, almost no animal is a dog when it comes to its genetic plasticity. Everything about them makes them more practically suited to selective breeding. In canine DNA are specific sequences known as SINEC_Cf elements. These are sequences of DNA that are especially prone to wandering, whole from one part of the DNA strand to another. In dogs, they often insert themselves into stretches that act as regulatory agents on processes, vastly but for the most part safely changing the expression of genes. Dogs have about 11,000 of these sequences, and they go back to their wolf ancestors. Humans have less than one thousand. Dog DNA is also shown to have strange repeating segments more often than humans. They're prone to benign mutation. They're also, unlike many animals, prone to develop in a way that allows for more biodiversity. The skull of a puppy often doesn't much resemble the dog it will grow into, whereas other animals have juvenile forms that are more templates of their adult selves. Starting from a basic pattern and drawing on variation from there developmentally allows dogs a huge plasticity of form that cannot be copied by other animals, humans included.

Selective eugenics cannot do otherwise but have an effect. Obsessively manage a familial line over generations, and it will change a species. However, every species will respond differently. Assuming that eugenics will have as much of an effect on humans as it does on other species is wrong. Assuming it will have the same effect it does on the more genetically pliable species can be fatal.

It Will Squander Our Limited Biodiversity

Even the success that we see with dogs comes at a price. Though different breeds of dogs might have a trait that's desirable to humans, they aren't more fit to survive than their wild compatriots. And what becomes of all their selective breeding? Aside from any number of diseases, weaknesses, and health problems endemic to dog breeds, they lose biodiversity. It's estimated that five percent of wolves' diversity was lost when they became domesticated dogs. When those domestic dogs were obsessively bred to make, say, a golden retriever, they lost another thirty-five percent of their diversity.

Full size
Humans don't have that much biodiversity to lose. Grab any two humans on Earth and they're likely to be more similar to each other, at the genetic level, than two chimps from the same tribe. It's thought that the human race came close to extinction in the past, and that the few survivors became genetically close to each other. Losing another thirty-five percent of our diversity is not a tempting prospect. Going back to the dog model, scientists generally agree that their mutations don't involve introduction of new genes, but expressions of ones already existing ones, which is why they can still interbreed so well. All that difference in genetics is what allowed them to change form in order to adapt to different conditions. Human eugenics isn't going to be about trying to create many different breeds, but about going for an ideal. Limiting our biodiversity in the name of one ideal, or even a chosen few, doesn't just change the human species in the present, it cuts off our capacity for change in the future. It's widely acknowledged that a species that limits its gene pool leaves itself extremely vulnerable to any change from its ideal conditions. If the world itself changes — which is pretty much a guarantee — the human population could very well be stranded at a dead end.

It's No Way to Add Quality

So what would we gain for this vulnerability, and this expenditure of energy and care on selective human eugenics? What's the ideal trait that we'd like for future humans to have? The general consensus on what we'd like to breed into the human population is intelligence. The human brain wants to preen and protect itself. This separates us from the animals! Except there's no pure way, genetically, to do that. During a recent interview with Io9, Gary Karpen, a UC Berkeley biologist, has said flat-out that, given all possible genetic information about a child, it is in no way possible to predict intelligence. There are too many traits bound together, too many ways that genes might be expressed. The leader of the Human Genome Process, Francis Collins, said the same in his own book, claiming that no amount of genetic tinkering could give people designer babies with intelligence to order.

Well, what about other things? Strength? Fertility? Resilience? The problem is there is no one smart gene, or fertile gene, or strong gene. Mix the DNA of two geniuses and, even assuming somewhere in the soup of their DNA intelligence is passed down, it drags a net of other traits along with it. Those who manage animal breeding notice the same. When one can breed in a trait like swiftness in horses, or health and fertility in chickens, it generally comes with any number of other characteristics. Thoroughbreds and "hot-blooded" horses are notoriously temperamental. One study in poultry husbandry showed that even moderate increases in hen fertility and health came with increase in aggression, hysterical behavior, weird imprinting responses in the young, and odd sexual behavior. Good luck with that mixed in to the human population. Eugenics can't be a scalpel. It's a club. Even assuming we could get an extraordinary trait in one area, it would come with a whole host of other traits that wouldn't be so desirable.

We Can't Be Sure What's Unnecessary

But surely eugenics, at its most benign, can be used to eliminate the more terrible genetic conditions in a population? No one could actually approve of a human child suffering? Since the beginning of the concept, this was the most socially acceptable side of eugenics. Some would say that it's in practice today, since parents often consult genetic scientists to see if a fetus actually carries an incurable genetic disease.

At the same time, there are relatively few diseases that are guaranteed by a person's genes, and science is for the most part at work to use gene therapy to eliminate the expressed disease in one person, not the genes in an entire group. Even the elimination of genes that cause genetic disorders can pose a problem. For a some time, it seemed that genetically heritable diseases such as Tay Sachs and sickle cell anemia were biological mysteries. Why would any population pass down a disease that would kill the next generation? Recently, though, it was found that the sickle cell anemia allele helped protect against malaria, arguably the most widespread killer of humans, and that the allele that caused Tay Sachs protected against tuberculosis, another famous killer. Again, a complete elimination of these genes from the human population may very well lose humankind the capacity to naturally guard against two widespread non-heritable diseases.

Too often eugenics is dismissed on moral grounds by people who say science shouldn't meddle with nature because it's wrong, or cruel. Practically speaking, that's not the only "should" to use. To express the argument fully, we need to employ the practical use of the word "should." Selecting and deselecting certain genes of people shouldn't be done because it's the wrong way to go about building up a strong, healthy, and smart population. Instead, the widest array of genes should be supported. Differing genetics should be seen as opportunities to understand the hidden strengths of different human beings. And we should understand the many ways that stubborn genetic diversity benefits our society.


http://io9.com/eugenics/
/thread

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 01:06:43 PM
Seriously, do not even try to play the "Evolution" card here. It so massively is in favor of eugenics it isn't even funny.

Really?

Let's look at an example of eugenics in action that many of us will be familiar with, Dogs. For thousands of years we have selectively bred traits that seem desirable to us into dogs while ignoring others. This has resulted in many breeds having persistent health issues including arthritis, breathing problems and neurological conditions.

So I'm not convinced evolution is in any way in favour of eugenics.

Aramendel
July 26 2012, 01:11:26 PM
Let's look at an example of eugenics in action that many of us will be familiar with, Dogs. For thousands of years we have selectively bred traits that seem desirable to us into dogs while ignoring others. This has resulted in many breeds having persistent health issues including arthritis, breathing problems and neurological conditions.

The little difference is here that WE steered the evolution of OTHERS.

If we steered our own evolution and noticed "Oh, people who had gene A removed/changed/added have issues X" you think we wouldn't try to fix it and instead go "Oh, but he has no hair loss, that is totally worth it."

If a dog has health issues or pain it doesn't really effect us. We ourselves having it though....




http://io9.com/eugenics/
/thread

Not really. The major thing that article ignores is that genetics has the ability to add things which do not exist naturally yet. It is not just a reshuffling and reduction of what is already there. This kills that articles main argument of biodiversity.

Lallante
July 26 2012, 03:00:08 PM
My answer is that the choice should not be given at all because to make such a choice is immoral, regardless of how scientifically feasible it might be.

wat

Lallante
July 26 2012, 03:01:52 PM
I don't think I'm taking a bold stance by saying that any real attempt at eugenics is indefensible. Practically speaking, though, eugenics is just as much of a bust as it is morally. We can't positively select for "better people," and we may face dire consequences if we try to weed out genetic problems, too.
"Should" is a rather vague English word. Saying we "shouldn't" do something can mean that it is immoral to do it or that it won't have the desired result. When it comes to eugenics, we tend to circle around the first kind of "shouldn't," without paying attention to the second. Eugenics programs of the past have lead to attempted genocide, mass sterilization, and garden variety needless suffering. There are plenty of reasons for people to cut off the conversation about eugenics at the moral. Too often, though, that leaves the practical drawbacks unexamined. Beyond the possibility of bungling the job, there are concrete reasons why eugenics just wouldn't work.

...

Too often eugenics is dismissed on moral grounds by people who say science shouldn't meddle with nature because it's wrong, or cruel. Practically speaking, that's not the only "should" to use. To express the argument fully, we need to employ the practical use of the word "should." Selecting and deselecting certain genes of people shouldn't be done because it's the wrong way to go about building up a strong, healthy, and smart population. Instead, the widest array of genes should be supported. Differing genetics should be seen as opportunities to understand the hidden strengths of different human beings. And we should understand the many ways that stubborn genetic diversity benefits our society.


http://io9.com/eugenics/
/thread

That's very nicely written but its totally wrong.

The article rests on a fundamental belief that there is no such thing as "better" genetic material, only different. I've highlighted the sentence that makes this point most strongly.

In my view that is simply fundamentally wrong - the more we learn about genetics and genetic treatments the more we realise what an incredibly pivotol role in human capability they play. In the future we WILL be able to engineer traits into all humans. Imagine if every child is born with capability of, with the right nurture, doing a PHD in astrophysics or composing an orchestral piece or competiting at the highest level (well what counts as the highest level now) of sport? Why is that anything other than a noble aim?

It always makes me a little queasy when someone makes some vapid half-statement about how we cant aim for better because of discrimination against those less well off. This is poisonous thinking - genetic ludditism.

If my child was born with Tay Sachs because some ivory tower neckbeard stroking ethicist had decided that "we need to celebrate each others differences" and ensured genetic screening and ultimately selection to avoid it was not available, I'd lose the plot. "Different is good" is all very well until "different" means a short life punctuated by agony.

Lallante
July 26 2012, 03:11:09 PM
Seriously, do not even try to play the "Evolution" card here. It so massively is in favor of eugenics it isn't even funny.

Really?

Let's look at an example of eugenics in action that many of us will be familiar with, Dogs. For thousands of years we have selectively bred traits that seem desirable to us into dogs while ignoring others. This has resulted in many breeds having persistent health issues including arthritis, breathing problems and neurological conditions.

So I'm not convinced evolution is in any way in favour of eugenics.

You realise those health issues are the result of poor genetic material resulting from inbreeding - something that would not only not apply to genetic eugenics BUT BE IMPOSSIBLE under it?

Lallante
July 26 2012, 03:13:39 PM
The choice isn't between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist or not. The choice is between asking someone with a disorder if they'd prefer to exist with or without that disorder.

Drawing the line is changing genes for any other reason than to fix a disorder that will affect your ability to function. Ginger hair does not affect your capacity to learn, grow, speak and get a job as far as I'm aware.

We're all talking about if it is right to remove these disorders before they're an issue. You're talking about designer babies, yet for some reason you can't see that.

You also say that it's possible for people with these disorders to become a productive member of society, which it is. But I'd be willing to bet that they're the outliers and not the main bulk. You just hear about them more because "oh what a great life success story to put in the newspaper".

I get the argument I just don't agree with it. Variety is an important part of our lives and any attempt to reduce the natural variety we get from nature is not something I think we should pursue. There's also an evolutionary concern. We could genetically remove a mutation which could eventually serve some unseen evolutionary advantage to us, but was quashed because it didn't meet the standards set out.

And yes, it is mostly the outliers that go on to do things in society, though a large part of that is probably due to culture and attitudes. Also, I'm not sure that making disability even more marginalised than it already is would help that.


"It's like, playing god man" "Don't mess with nature, man".

These aren't arguements, its just reactionary gut conservatism. The idea that given perfect genetic choice, everyone would choose the same is simply ludicrous in its lack of support. Individualism is hardwired into the human psyche. Sure everyone would choose to be healthy and intelligent, but are you seriously advocating condemning people to a life of confusion, ignorance or sickness solely because you "prefer more variety"? That seems perverse in the extreme.

Smuggo
July 26 2012, 03:37:23 PM
Seriously, do not even try to play the "Evolution" card here. It so massively is in favor of eugenics it isn't even funny.

Really?

Let's look at an example of eugenics in action that many of us will be familiar with, Dogs. For thousands of years we have selectively bred traits that seem desirable to us into dogs while ignoring others. This has resulted in many breeds having persistent health issues including arthritis, breathing problems and neurological conditions.

So I'm not convinced evolution is in any way in favour of eugenics.

You realise those health issues are the result of poor genetic material resulting from inbreeding - something that would not only not apply to genetic eugenics BUT BE IMPOSSIBLE under it?

I think maybe you don't understand why inbreeding causes these problems? It's because problematic genes tend to persist where they might not otherwise and over longer periods of time develop to the point where they become extremely common as in many pedigree dogs. Inbreeding itself doesn't result in "poor genetic material" any more than procreation between unrelated individuals, it just tends to accentuate a variety of traits that are already there to extremes over long periods.

Aea
July 26 2012, 05:42:50 PM
Seriously, do not even try to play the "Evolution" card here. It so massively is in favor of eugenics it isn't even funny.

Really?

Let's look at an example of eugenics in action that many of us will be familiar with, Dogs. For thousands of years we have selectively bred traits that seem desirable to us into dogs while ignoring others. This has resulted in many breeds having persistent health issues including arthritis, breathing problems and neurological conditions.

So I'm not convinced evolution is in any way in favour of eugenics.

You realise those health issues are the result of poor genetic material resulting from inbreeding - something that would not only not apply to genetic eugenics BUT BE IMPOSSIBLE under it?

I think maybe you don't understand why inbreeding causes these problems? It's because problematic genes tend to persist where they might not otherwise and over longer periods of time develop to the point where they become extremely common as in many pedigree dogs. Inbreeding itself doesn't result in "poor genetic material" any more than procreation between unrelated individuals, it just tends to accentuate a variety of traits that are already there to extremes over long periods.

The whole point of eugenics, especially screening is to prevent detrimental mutations from being expressed. Mutations which are commonly fixed within in-breeding populations. Eugenics would seek to eliminate the negative outcomes of inbreeding.

As for inbreeding not resulting in the expression of poor genetic material? One, it's patently incorrect since most of the harmful hereditary diseases that effect humans are recessive or are expressed late in life. Inbreeding causes an increase in recessive allele frequency and subsequently an increase in individuals expressing the disease or being disease carriers. But perhaps this argument is that there is no such thing as "poor genetic material," which I can argue is also entirely incorrect. As I had mentioned before, the majority of mutations in most organisms including humans are entirely detrimental to survival and reproductive fitness. There are few exceptions of seemingly bad traits being conditionally useful (e.g. sickle cell anemia and malaria), but most are anything but.

KathDougans
July 26 2012, 05:56:33 PM
In the UK, there are now more babies born with Down's syndrome than there were before screening was available.

There was a drop, when screening became widely available, but then numbers rose again.

It would appear, that people believe the UK is now a better place to bring up a child with the syndrome.

In addition to this, would be the trend amongst some social groups for women having fewer children and having them later. A modern day 40ish woman with only 1 previous child, might be more willing to continue, than a 40ish woman with 3 previous children in the 80's, which were the kinds of mothers that the screening program was of more benefit to, way back in 1989 when things became widely available.

Certainly, things have changed.
One of my mother's friends had a child with the condition, this would have been around 1960, long before screening was available, and had 2 previous children. When she was shown the child by the doctor at the birth, she felt repulsed. And felt guilty about this for the rest of her life. She was also repulsed later, by such things as assisting the child with dressing, and bathing.
It had a significant effect on the other two children too, because of the effect on such things as family trips, there was always the issue of "oh, we could go to...but what about...(child's name)".
The child lived longer (30ish yrs) than doctors expected (5), and my mother's friend felt very upset yet relieved, because she was very upset at the idea that she might die before the child did.

But, things are different now.


So, people's reactions to genetic screening being available may not have the effect of reducing the incidence of a condition.

XenosisReaper
July 27 2012, 12:15:17 AM
Arguing with Smuggo is pointless

He's arguing with what he knows, which means he will outlast this thread by 3000 years.

Lallante
July 27 2012, 10:12:39 AM
Seriously, do not even try to play the "Evolution" card here. It so massively is in favor of eugenics it isn't even funny.

Really?

Let's look at an example of eugenics in action that many of us will be familiar with, Dogs. For thousands of years we have selectively bred traits that seem desirable to us into dogs while ignoring others. This has resulted in many breeds having persistent health issues including arthritis, breathing problems and neurological conditions.

So I'm not convinced evolution is in any way in favour of eugenics.

You realise those health issues are the result of poor genetic material resulting from inbreeding - something that would not only not apply to genetic eugenics BUT BE IMPOSSIBLE under it?

I think maybe you don't understand why inbreeding causes these problems? It's because problematic genes tend to persist where they might not otherwise and over longer periods of time develop to the point where they become extremely common as in many pedigree dogs. Inbreeding itself doesn't result in "poor genetic material" any more than procreation between unrelated individuals, it just tends to accentuate a variety of traits that are already there to extremes over long periods.

Genetic engineering ("designer babies" for example) isn't about using "dad" dna and nearly identical "mom" dna to make a baby that has accentuated traits of mom and dad. Its about taking a full set of DNA and then tweaking individual characteristics - there is no increased risk of "inbreeding" genetic disorders.

I think you fundamentally dont understand the difference, genetically, between selective breeding (which clearly results in a degree of inbreeding) and genetic engineering (which results in the opposite of inbreeding).

KathDougans
July 27 2012, 04:39:45 PM
We will also always need someone to sweep the streets and take our bins etc.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if that would be done by robots in 50 years.

Would you be surprised if it wasn't?

Of course not. We cannot really reliably predict the future in such time periods. Too much stuff can happen.

They are however a very realistic possibility. Just look at the room cleaning robots we have today.

The point being is - "shit jobs" get eventually phased out with technological progress. How many people (in the developed world) actually *manually* plant seeds for a living? Or manually cure hides with piss? There will always be some sort of "lowest tier" for jobs, but the worst (and that usually means: most simple) jobs keep vanishing because machines can do them better.

In the developed world, there's quite a few jobs in horticulture for that, in glasshouses and so on. Not all that many, but enough for horticulture to be a career.
Curing hides, I only know one guy that ever did that sort of thing, and he was a gamekeeper on a sporting estate.

Isaac Asimov's books had robots being cheap, capable and widespread by the 1990's.

In any case, underemployment is already a problem, not just because of the economic situation, but even in good times.

Lots of graduates are doing jobs that do not require their skills, displacing some non-graduates.


Eugenics may exacerbate underemployment, which would have an effect on society.

cheeba
July 27 2012, 04:45:25 PM
Arriving late to this thread. Some interesting comments in here.

As someone who works in genetics, I would say that a much more pressing and real issue is that of genome privacy. This is something that will affect our kids and certainly our kids kids.

Human genome was first sequences about a decade ago. The total cost at the time was millions USD. Today you can sequence a human genome for a few grand and within a few years it will cost a few hundred dollars, perhaps even less than 100USD.

Getting our genomes sequenced will become a routine matter, apart of our medical records.

While our knowledge of our own genomes is ridiculously small, several alleles have already been identified that can confer an increased risk of this or that. People will allele A have a 15% higher incidence of developing breast cancer. People will allele B are more likely to develop addictive habits.

What I am wondering about is how this data will be controlled in the future. Who will have access to it?

If you are 40 years old and interviewing for a job, do you want your potential employer seeing you genome data and noticing that you are the proud owner of an allele that raises your risk of early onset alzheimers?

Will be interesting to say the least.

Tarminic
July 27 2012, 04:48:33 PM
I haven't been following this thread that closely, but my biggest problem with eugenics is that barring a benevolent, all-powerful AI (which would solve 90% of society's problems anyway), it would be far too easy to exploit such a program to suppress a population. In the wrong hands, a well-intentioned eugenics program is a slow genocide.

The only way I could see the concept of "designer babies" not resulting in greater economic disparity is that if it was a considered a right and its access was universal regardless of income.

Lallante
July 27 2012, 04:53:48 PM
I haven't been following this thread that closely, but my biggest problem with eugenics is that barring a benevolent, all-powerful AI (which would solve 90% of society's problems anyway), it would be far too easy to exploit such a program to suppress a population. In the wrong hands, a well-intentioned eugenics program is a slow genocide.

The only way I could see the concept of "designer babies" not resulting in greater economic disparity is that if it was a considered a right and its access was universal regardless of income.

1st point : This is an arguement against a centrally controlled "targetted" program, but is it an argument against individual couples being given the choice if they want it?

With regards 2nd point : its no different from the arguements for and against private schools - if people can afford to improve their childrens' eduction (or in this case, genetic capability), why should we stop them just to level the playing field at the lowest common denominator? Shouldnt we instead aim to make the process cheap enough (or a public good) so that everyone gets access?

Tarminic
July 27 2012, 05:13:00 PM
With regards 2nd point : its no different from the arguements for and against private schools - if people can afford to improve their childrens' eduction (or in this case, genetic capability), why should we stop them just to level the playing field at the lowest common denominator? Shouldnt we instead aim to make the process cheap enough (or a public good) so that everyone gets access?
That's an excellent point, and I agree with it. My concern is that there will be a very large time gab between when the technology becomes commercially available and when it could be politically and financially viable to offer as a public good. And in the mean time, it'll create an underclass of genetic haves and have-nots.

Granted, I don't think it'll ever turn out as terribly as is portrayed in Gattaca, but I still consider it a valid concern.

Nicholai Pestot
July 27 2012, 05:32:49 PM
[QUOTE=Tarminic;521543]With regards 2nd point : its no different from the arguements for and against private schools - if people can afford to improve their childrens' eduction (or in this case, genetic capability), why should we stop them just to level the playing field at the lowest common denominator? Shouldnt we instead aim to make the process cheap enough (or a public good) so that everyone gets access?
That's an excellent point, and I agree with it. My concern is that there will be a very large time gab between when the technology becomes commercially available and when it could be politically and financially viable to offer as a public good. And in the mean time, it'll create an underclass of genetic haves and have-nots.

Granted, I don't think it'll ever turn out as terribly as is portrayed in Gattaca, but I still consider it a valid concern.

The production of an underclass of that type would, by its nature, take an entire generational time period at least, in order for it to even start to form.

Given the rate at which new technologies reduce in cost, I think your concern is unfounded.

Tarminic
July 27 2012, 05:34:05 PM
Hm, good point. :lol:

Logan Feynman
July 28 2012, 03:40:39 PM
I have two basic concerns with the issue of putting genetic selection in the hands of the parents:

First, the problem is that most genes code for more than one thing, and currently we only have limited knowledge of a limited influence of a limited number of alleles. To continue on cheeba's line of reasoning: People with allelle A might have, on the average, 15% higher IQ than people with allele B. However, people with allele B who also have allele C could have greater self-control, or people who have B and D could be less likely to suffer from depression.

It is difficult to find out all interactions between different genes, which is why we use statistics today: "Allele X means 25% more chance of...", which could be a result of an interaction with two out of eight possible other alleles, OR interaction with another gene AND environmental influence ... etc. etc.

Until we understand all interactions within our genomes, parents would only follow trends - everyone would go for the smarter gene, for instance - and thus lose some genetic variation we did not understand was important for some other reason.

And the 'trending' issue is another problem, even if and when we understand all interactions, because people will mostly pick the 'popular' options, wishing the best for their children in the current environment. Human phenotype would completely become dependent on the meme pool of the time.

Aramendel
July 28 2012, 04:35:54 PM
The "genetic variation" card again...

You act like genes would get snipped out and thrown in the trash and be lost forever, but that is an highly unrealistic viewpoint. When the editing of our offsprings DNA becomes commonplace there *will* be gene databases of "unmodified" human DNA. We do that already for endangered species. There will be no permanent reduction of the human genetic variation. If we can put it out we can put it in.
If a certain mix causes "problems" (higher amount of suicides, mental illnesses, etc) do you think it will be simply ignored?

I highly doubt "trending" will be a real problem - you are kinda contradicting yourself there. As you said, we only have a very limited understanding of the effect of alleles and use probabilities. But despite that we will be able to identify a "master" allele for "intelligence" which is so clearly superior to everything else that everyone uses it?
No, I do not think so. "Intelligence" will be one of the more important factors, but it is a gem with many many sides. Would you want your children to do math easier? Or maybe be able to memorize things faster? Or be good in music? Or be good in learning languages? Or be more emphatic towards other people? These are all aspects which can be paraphrased as "intelligence". It is highly doubtful that we get a mix (at least in the early days) which is good in all aspects. And which are important to someone varies wildly. And nevermind that there are other things, too. Would you want your child 15% "smarter"? Or maybe 10% "smarter" and 10% "healthier"? And then how exactly "healthier"? Cancer resistance? Longevity? Better immune system? Etc, etc, etc.

No, I really really do not think we are in danger of everyone getting the same genetic mixture.

Logan Feynman
July 28 2012, 09:39:50 PM
I am not implying we will lose something 'forever' or 'in full'. I am just talking statistics here. A change in frequency of a single allele from, say, 8% in general population to 22% in general population might bring about changes in society and healthcare that would have been impossible to forecast. Solid empirical evidence for results of gene-meddling would, by definition, have to wait a generation or two, by which time serious damage might be done.

And I insist that trending *would* be a problem. No, we won't *all* choose the same, but take a look around and say how many people make rational, informed and logical choices, and how many just copy what the majority is doing. Again, an allele that has spread to 25% of population might have a serious impact on the society as a whole.

My primary points are:

1. We are very far from knowing exactly what each combination of alleles does, especially when we take into consideration that genes can express differently under different environmental influences, but we are not very far from being capable of choosing genetic mix for our babies. Any genetic choice before that time would appear to be chance-based as we don't know all possible interactions - you would order a '2 in 10 chance of greater athletic ability', a '5 in 7' chance of longer life span, a '2x reduced chance of cardiovascular illness' etc.

2. Even when information is readily available, people, in general, do not make rational and informed choices. They are not capable of doing that when buying a house, a car, a computer or a gadget, and they certainly won't be when 'buying' their designer offspring.


Some potentially useful examples for this debate (really cannot search for sources now, sorry):

Gene that provides increased resistance to malaria when inherited from only one parent produces sickle-cell anemia when inherited from both parents. This one is a no-brainer. If we can choose genes at will, in time everyone can have exactly one resistant gene and everyone would be more resistant to malaria and no one would have sickle-cell anemia. However, if no parent has that particular variation, they obviously cannot have a child with that trait (resistance to malaria). Also of note: What if the malaria-resistance gene also carries some other drawback we are not currently aware of, something that we simply weren't testing for? A doubling of the chance to develop colon cancer, or 2cm smaller penis? Would anyone ever choose the malaria-resistance gene if it had *any* other drawback, or would people just avoid tropical locations?

Indirect evidence from a German study suggests that there are two main variants of a gene responsible for intelligence. Let's call them 'smart' and 'common'. A 'common-common' individual would be average in intelligence, a 'smart-common' individual would be above average, and a 'smart-smart' individual would be high above average. However, many mental health studies indicate that very high intelligence increases risk for a great number of mental diseases. Does the 'common' gene provide greater psychological stability in general or only in specific cases which might be avoided during upbringing?

Still-unconfirmed evidence from an Italian study suggests that there is a 'gay' gene, which makes women more attractive and extroverted, but can make male offspring gay, with a greater chance of making a gay after the first child. The first interesting question this raises is - would eugenics eliminate gay population? Would all parents simply choose to have a daughter with a single 'gay' gene (so she can have greater chances of having non-gay sons), and sons without the 'gay' gene (so there would be no chance they would be gay)? Are there any other benefits of the 'gay' gene? What if it has a 25% chance of making you gay, but also a 33% chance of making you more creative, more empathic, or just more extroverted? Would anyone ever choose the gay gene for their male child?

I don't know. But I love not knowing, I find it interesting.

cheeba
July 28 2012, 11:14:13 PM
worth remembering something else - there are two types of genetic screening at play here.

Passive - we already do it. When performing IVF you can select embryos for specific genetic traits. Be this to avoid a disease, create a saviour baby or even select a sex. This has medical applications but in places like china, the wealthy can already 'pay for a boy' through embryo selection.

Active - instead of just screen and selecting, we add genes that werent there before - ie true GM humans. This - while interesting in concept, IMO will not be taking off for a long long time, if ever. Why? Two reasons, firstly its becoming increasingly clear that having gene A gives you phenotype A. Secondly, messing with the genome results is unpredictable and dangerous. More often then not you end up with aborted or grossly deformed foetuses. Sometimes you'd be amazed.... tinkering with a 'insignificant' gene for eye colour ends up massively perverting development and you can baby mice that look like something out of a horror movie. Genes are not beads on a string, easily swapped out or changed. They act with other genes, promoters, repressers, chromosomally-associated proteins etc etc. Cutting out and pasting in genes would be as risky as taking as looking at a 747 and saying 'lets take out this bit here and replace with this other bit'. It might work, but odds are not.

Aramendel
July 29 2012, 08:52:44 AM
...might bring about changes in society and healthcare that would have been impossible to forecast. Solid empirical evidence for results of gene-meddling would, by definition, have to wait a generation or two, by which time serious damage might be done.

I have several problems with this.

Firstly, Define "Serious damage". You are here making vague predictions and as only reason why something (undefined) bad might happen "we do not know everything".

Secondly, we never have a complete understanding of the consequences of new technologies before we implement them. You could have used "might bring about changes ... that would have been impossible to forecast" as arguments against the initial use of combustion motors or the switch from a hunter-gather society to farmers.

Thirdly, the only real way to see what the effect of something complex is, is to actually do it. We would only get solid empirical evidence in a generation, yes, but without doing it at all we would get it never. We would never get the more complete understanding which you think is necessary to implement it.
Saying "But we need a complete understanding what each gene does before we do it" is for me just another way of saying "We should never do it at all".


Even when information is readily available, people, in general, do not make rational and informed choices. They are not capable of doing that when buying a house, a car, a computer or a gadget, and they certainly won't be when 'buying' their designer offspring.

My point is not that they make rational choices, but that they make different ones. Does everyone buy the same type of house, car, computer or gadget?



Generally - of course does genetic manipulation (or just a little bit of gene shuffling) carry risks. But seriously, that applies to a lot (most) of other technologies as well. If we would go "We only start using X when we completely understand it to avoid mistakes" we would have no real progress basically everywhere. In most cases to see what the effects of X are you have to actually do X.

Genetic manipulation of humans will be done eventually. I do not think it will happen in our generation, but I see it likely to happen in the next. It really depends how fast the field will develop. It might be as fast as nuclear power (aka no real advances) or it might be as fast as computer science (from zero to hero in less than a generation). I am not arguing that we should be doing it *now*, our understanding is still too poor for that, but we will most definitely do it before we have a complete understanding.

Logan Feynman
July 29 2012, 12:13:50 PM
My point is not that they make rational choices, but that they make different ones. Does everyone buy the same type of house, car, computer or gadget?


Generally - of course does genetic manipulation (or just a little bit of gene shuffling) carry risks. But seriously, that applies to a lot (most) of other technologies as well. If we would go "We only start using X when we completely understand it to avoid mistakes" we would have no real progress basically everywhere. In most cases to see what the effects of X are you have to actually do X.

Genetic manipulation of humans will be done eventually. I do not think it will happen in our generation, but I see it likely to happen in the next. It really depends how fast the field will develop. It might be as fast as nuclear power (aka no real advances) or it might be as fast as computer science (from zero to hero in less than a generation). I am not arguing that we should be doing it *now*, our understanding is still too poor for that, but we will most definitely do it before we have a complete understanding.

I agree with you that, if we waited until we completely understood all side-effects of any technology, we would not have progress. Progress requires experimentation and reasonable risks are ok.

However, I have a problem with experimenting with human beings in this way. When adopting new and untested technology (GM crops, cell phones, CT scans etc.) people are making a choice whether or not to accept the risks. With gene manipulation, we are passing the risks to children which had no choice whether to accept them or not. I don't think an entire generation of humans is an acceptable test subject.

That said, we probably *will* be making designer babies. It will probably become legal in one or more countries (China?), and wealthy potential parents will fly over to that country to have their baby tailor-made. That country and a generation of rich hipsters will be the ones to test the consequences. Fine by me.

Aramendel
July 29 2012, 01:20:09 PM
When adopting new and untested technology (GM crops, cell phones, CT scans etc.) people are making a choice whether or not to accept the risks. With gene manipulation, we are passing the risks to children which had no choice whether to accept them or not. I don't think an entire generation of humans is an acceptable test subject.

That's not entirely true. All your examples are used on or effect children as well. A 5 year old won't get asked its opinion before you fed him something made by GM crops. If you get a 10 year old a cell phone as birthday present you are using it as "test subject" for the effect of EM radiation. You do not ask a 12 year old if it wants to do that CT scan, you ask its parents.

Genetic manipulation isn't really different here. Parents will not "sell" their child as test subject, they will use GM in an attempt to help their child because they think the possible benefits outweigh the risks. And if they think the risks are too great they won't use it. Just as some parents refuse to buy their children cell phones because they are afraid the radiation from them might have bad effects on their development.
It is perfectly normal for parents to weight possible advantages and disadvantages of something their child can be effected by and act accordingly what they think is best for the child.

Zeekar
July 29 2012, 02:16:21 PM
Comparing designer babies to the effects of non ionizing radiation, gm crops or to a CT scan is simply dumb. We know how those things operate, we know the effects, dangers and risks they represent while we simply do not understand how gene manipulation in humans would pan out and the first generation of designer babies would be test subjects without a doubt.

Logan Feynman
July 29 2012, 02:22:18 PM
It is perfectly normal for parents to weight possible advantages and disadvantages of something their child can be effected by and act accordingly what they think is best for the child.

And still I don't think people make rational choices when weighing advantages and disadvantages. Some will scream 'GM children! The horror!' and others will scream 'I want the best start in life for my child!' and neither will ever look at the other side's arguments. Meanwhile, a great majority will do whatever everyone else in the middle is doing, because 'all my friends are doing/not doing it'. None of them will think rationally about it. Most of them will believe they are making the rational choice, however.

KathDougans
July 29 2012, 03:34:57 PM
someone might know about this:
Is it possible, that genetic engineering would make it such that sperm from an unmodified person is unable to naturally fertilise a modified person's egg? or modified sperm unable to fertilise unmodified eggs.

I do not know much about the mechanisms, but isn't there a lot of stuff involving proteins and so on that surround the egg, that only lets 1 sperm in?
Could that protein be altered by engineering, intentionally or otherwise?
What about immune response to sperm?

cheeba
July 29 2012, 04:06:42 PM
someone might know about this:
Is it possible, that genetic engineering would make it such that sperm from an unmodified person is unable to naturally fertilise a modified person's egg? or modified sperm unable to fertilise unmodified eggs.
?


Yes it is possible in theory. I am not saying we could do it right now, but the theory has already been put into practise with plant zygotes (ie plant sex cells). This was done by plant genetics companies to stop GM strains breeding with wild ones. Has had mixed success but still, the technique is there.

With vertebrates, this isnt currently possible (I dont think), but off the top of my head it would be feasible.

And yes - that would have some interesting consequences for a weird future where GM people couldn't breed with non GM.

Aramendel
July 29 2012, 04:18:31 PM
Comparing designer babies to the effects of non ionizing radiation, gm crops or to a CT scan is simply dumb. We know how those things operate, we know the effects, dangers and risks they represent while we simply do not understand how gene manipulation in humans would pan out and the first generation of designer babies would be test subjects without a doubt.

We very much do not know the long term risks of non ionizing radiation and gm crops for sure. How can we? Those things do not exist (gm crops) or a used commonly (cell phones) long enough for long term studies. This is why some people are concerned about those (I am not one of them, though). The only knowledge we have about long term effects is from theory. You know, just as we would have with gene manipulation in humans.
And, again, I am not saying we are in any way ready for such *now*. It will likely take a generation till that really happens. And before that we will have done this extensively with animals and plants.

Also, we will not jump right to "designer babies". It will come gradually. The first "test subjects" will be likely those where even the use of an experimental technology will be preferable to doing nothing, i.e. children from couples whose families have a history of strong hereditary diseases.


And still I don't think people make rational choices when weighing advantages and disadvantages.

Claiming people never make rational decisions is just as bad as claiming people make only rational decisions. Avoid absolutes, they are never right.*

We could agree that people will not always make rational decisions. So? That is human nature for you. How is that an argument for or against something? It is a universal factor, it applies everywhere.

*Yes, that was intentional.

Zeekar
July 29 2012, 04:45:13 PM
Comparing designer babies to the effects of non ionizing radiation, gm crops or to a CT scan is simply dumb. We know how those things operate, we know the effects, dangers and risks they represent while we simply do not understand how gene manipulation in humans would pan out and the first generation of designer babies would be test subjects without a doubt.

We very much do not know the long term risks of non ionizing radiation and gm crops for sure. How can we? Those things do not exist (gm crops) or a used commonly (cell phones) long enough for long term studies. This is why some people are concerned about those (I am not one of them, though). The only knowledge we have about long term effects is from theory. You know, just as we would have with gene manipulation in humans.
And, again, I am not saying we are in any way ready for such *now*. It will likely take a generation till that really happens. And before that we will have done this extensively with animals and plants.

Also, we will not jump right to "designer babies". It will come gradually. The first "test subjects" will be likely those where even the use of an experimental technology will be preferable to doing nothing, i.e. children from couples whose families have a history of strong hereditary diseases.



Studies have been done on long term effects of non ionizing radiation same for GM crops. Now you can claim they haven't been around long enough which is frankly bull. Non ionizing radiation has been with us for ever in form of light or for the last 100 years in form of radio and TV waves and in all that time no effect on human tissue has been noticed. The theory behind it is very sound and very tested so you can not compare it to the current theory we have on human genetics where we dont even know how changing one gene will affect the others.

As for GM crops, they have been around for the last 20ish years if you restrain yourself to the crops in which we have inserted on purpose some genetic material. Otherwise GM crops have been with us from the first days of agriculture except back then it has been done by random chance while now its done in the lab with us knowing what we are doing. Before those companies can place a new plant on the market they have to go trough testing which is on par with the tests done by pharmaceutical companies before they can launch a new medicine. But some people fear the unknown, things they dont understand so they express "concern" .

Logan Feynman
July 29 2012, 04:53:44 PM
And still I don't think people make rational choices when weighing advantages and disadvantages.

Claiming people never make rational decisions is just as bad as claiming people make only rational decisions. Avoid absolutes, they are never right.*

We could agree that people will not always make rational decisions. So? That is human nature for you. How is that an argument for or against something? It is a universal factor, it applies everywhere.
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Except there is a large body of well-documented evidence that, for the most part, people do not make rational decisions. We are susceptible to an incredible array of biases and incapable of recognizing when our biases impair our judgement. This has been proven to almost completely unrelated to intelligence. Our choices and opinions rarely change and any new information is twisted to conform to our preconceived notions.

I'm not saying nobody ever makes a rational decision. It's just that it's very rare, especially when we feel strongly about something one way or the other.

And that is a good argument against giving people the power to choose, expecting rational choices. Ok, framed like this, it's not only an argument against eugenics but also against democracy and free market. However, that's a discussion for another thread.

Aramendel
July 29 2012, 05:14:21 PM
Non ionizing radiation has been with us for ever in form of light or for the last 100 years in form of radio and TV waves and in all that time no effect on human tissue has been noticed. The theory behind it is very sound and very tested so you can not compare it to the current theory we have on human genetics where we dont even know how changing one gene will affect the others.

a) Except in cell phones the energy concentration is higher. Personally I believe concerns about this being a load of bull too, but it is undeniable that they are not tested in the long term.
b) I am not talking about the GM of humans based on our CURRENT knowledge of it. This is now the 3rd time I repeated that. The last time was in the post you quoted.


As for GM crops, they have been around for the last 20ish years if you restrain yourself to the crops in which we have inserted on purpose some genetic material.

16 years actually. That is still less than a generation or two, what has been used earlier in this thread as long term effects of human GM.


Before those companies can place a new plant on the market they have to go trough testing which is on par with the tests done by pharmaceutical companies before they can launch a new medicine.

And you think it won't when we start to GM humans?




Except there is a large body of well-documented evidence that, for the most part, people do not make rational decisions.

For that, I would like a source.


And that is a good argument against giving people the power to choose, expecting rational choices. Ok, framed like this, it's not only an argument against eugenics but also against democracy and free market.

Not only that. But also abortion, medical treatment, which field to study, basically *everything*.

Something which is universal is essentially meaningless. If you take it as argument for allowing or not allowing a thing you also have to apply it everywhere. You can condense it to "Humans have no right to free will because they make mostly no rational decisions". I do not see that as valid reason to deny free will.

Logan Feynman
July 29 2012, 09:58:58 PM
For that, I would like a source.

Ok. I have based that opinion on the past 19 years of persistent reading about psychology, economics, genetics and memetics. As it is late, I've just come home from a 12-hour shift at a news desk, and I've just lit up a joint, most of the sources I will post here will be wikipedia or bakadesuyo, as they're easiest for me to find on short notice. Both provide references to actual studies.

Susceptibility to situationally-attributed behaviour:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

Susceptibility to influence by authority or conformism:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

Susceptibility to emotional influences:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimatum_game

Attribution of negative motives to holders of different opinion:
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/are-people-who-disagree-with-you-inherently-e

Influence of nutrition on decision-making process:
http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2009/09/29/fasting/

Influence of irrelevant psychological factors on political choices:
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/why-politics-is-a-mess-and-its-all-your-fault
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/when-it-comes-to-politics-this-is-how-shallow

Examples of bias types affecting most people (most with studies cited):
http://lesswrong.com/lw/58y/the_bias_you_didnt_expect
http://singularity.org/files/CognitiveBiases.pdf
http://lesswrong.com/lw/ji/conjunction_fallacy/
http://lesswrong.com/lw/j7/anchoring_and_adjustment/
http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Bias



Not only that. But also abortion, medical treatment, which field to study, basically *everything*.

Not everything. Just anything above a certain threshold of chance of causing serious and/or permanent damage to the planet or the race as a whole. Decisions on matters such as environmental policy, healthcare policy, human rights, education, warfare and human genetic engineering should all probably never be left to popular opinion.


Something which is universal is essentially meaningless. If you take it as argument for allowing or not allowing a thing you also have to apply it everywhere. You can condense it to "Humans have no right to free will because they make mostly no rational decisions". I do not see that as valid reason to deny free will.

I don't think I have to apply it everywhere. I think I can define less critical and more critical decisions potentially available to individuals, and try to fashion limitations proportional to their importance.

Zeekar
July 29 2012, 10:50:13 PM
Non ionizing radiation has been with us for ever in form of light or for the last 100 years in form of radio and TV waves and in all that time no effect on human tissue has been noticed. The theory behind it is very sound and very tested so you can not compare it to the current theory we have on human genetics where we dont even know how changing one gene will affect the others.

a) Except in cell phones the energy concentration is higher. Personally I believe concerns about this being a load of bull too, but it is undeniable that they are not tested in the long term.
b) I am not talking about the GM of humans based on our CURRENT knowledge of it. This is now the 3rd time I repeated that. The last time was in the post you quoted.



The energy concentration doesn't really play that much of a role. It will heat you up more and thats it.




As for GM crops, they have been around for the last 20ish years if you restrain yourself to the crops in which we have inserted on purpose some genetic material.

16 years actually. That is still less than a generation or two, what has been used earlier in this thread as long term effects of human GM.



You can not compare the complexity of a plant to a human. You dont need that long of a time period you just need to asses they arent harmful to humans.




Before those companies can place a new plant on the market they have to go trough testing which is on par with the tests done by pharmaceutical companies before they can launch a new medicine.

And you think it won't when we start to GM humans?



They probably will when it moves from lab to open market.

Aramendel
July 30 2012, 05:41:28 PM
Susceptibility to...

In other words, humans behave irrational under certain circumstances. You didn't need 50 links to prove that to me, that is fairly obvious.

But the thing is - this does prove "humans make irrational decisions", but not "humans make the vast majority of their decisions not rationally".


Not everything. Just anything above a certain threshold of chance of causing serious and/or permanent damage to the planet or the race as a whole. Decisions on matters such as environmental policy, healthcare policy, human rights, education, warfare and human genetic engineering should all probably never be left to popular opinion.

How exactly can human genetic engineering cause "serious and/or permanent damage to the planet or the race as a whole"?

You are still extremely vague about that, the only real thing you mentioned there was "changes in society and healthcare that would have been impossible to forecast". Lets ignore that this can also mean positive changes and simply say "negative changes in society and healthcare".
Well, so does smoking and drinking, eating too fat food, having unprotected sex, having too many (or too few children), etc. By the very same argument we shouldn't be able to decide those things too. They are a nonissue if only few people do them but have a major negative effect if too many people do them. Just like genetic engineering of ones children.

Also, everything you mentioned there are decisions about nationwide policies while human genetic engineering would be about individual decisions. They do not fit in there, they are in another ballpark.



The energy concentration doesn't really play that much of a role. It will heat you up more and thats it.

Which is also the reason why people are concerned about them.


You can not compare the complexity of a plant to a human. You dont need that long of a time period you just need to asses they arent harmful to humans.

That is actually the smallest problem. The real issue is how they effect the ecosystem in the long term, especially non-GM plants and animals. And this is something which is impossible to test, you only can release them and see what happens. Which is exactly what we did when we introduced GM crops at the end of the 90s.

And, again - could you *please* finally realize this? - I am not talking about the current GM technologies and knowledge. You cannot compare their complexity to a human, but neither can you compare our knowledge of genetics now to that what we will have when we finally start to GM humans.

Zeekar
July 30 2012, 06:32:48 PM
The energy concentration doesn't really play that much of a role. It will heat you up more and thats it.

Which is also the reason why people are concerned about them.


Yes but those people are retards.




You can not compare the complexity of a plant to a human. You dont need that long of a time period you just need to asses they arent harmful to humans.

That is actually the smallest problem. The real issue is how they effect the ecosystem in the long term, especially non-GM plants and animals. And this is something which is impossible to test, you only can release them and see what happens. Which is exactly what we did when we introduced GM crops at the end of the 90s.

And, again - could you *please* finally realize this? - I am not talking about the current GM technologies and knowledge. You cannot compare their complexity to a human, but neither can you compare our knowledge of genetics now to that what we will have when we finally start to GM humans.

Tbh if you allowed it now some people would still go for it. Just like those "men" who go at clinics and try to make sure they get a male offspring.

JForce
August 1 2012, 05:34:31 AM
Loving the discussion - more + to the Serious Business forum :)

I think that where I stand is a series of contradictions based on selfishness as much as anything else.

If I meet a woman and we decide to have children, if the option to tweak certain characteristics is available I'd probably take it. Things like "less likely to be a fatty", "More likely to be tall", "Huge johnson" etc. Whether things like that are available and RELIABLE by the time I have kids (next 10 years) who knows, but it's possible to some degree at least.
This is based on "give them the best chance possible to succeed"

My view on eugenics on a large scale is less clear, in that I would not want to see a Gattica society.

Similarly, I would be against every man and his dog/The Man having my genome on file. The implications are (as discussed here) around the potential misuse.

I have a slightly tangental question, but not sure whether deserves it's own thread: The "right" to have children. Is this a eugenics question, or should I start a new topic? My interest comes from the usual - unending news reports of people having children who can't afford/look after them, and then abusing them/killing them etc. I am heavily conflicted on this subject, as my libertarian principles support a degree of "survival of the fittest" and lack of interference from authorities, but at the same time holy shit we don't just allow any person to drive a car/own a gun/fly a plane, they have to prove they're not a completely useless human being - but anyone can have a child.

Lallante
August 1 2012, 09:32:28 AM
I agree with most of that JForce. I would use trait selecting for my kids if I could.

RazoR
August 1 2012, 10:16:30 AM
Russia - forced sterilisation of pyschoneurologically or genetically abnormal persons (usually women).Hearing of it for the first time, honestly.
But i think such women wouldn't get preggers in the first place.

There should be drawn a clear line between informing the people of possible consequences and forcing them.

Sp4m
August 22 2016, 03:15:29 PM
I agree.

Djan Seriy Anaplian
August 22 2016, 05:56:29 PM
I agree.

naturlich

sarabando
August 23 2016, 12:55:33 PM
I have a slightly tangental question, but not sure whether deserves it's own thread: The "right" to have children. Is this a eugenics question, or should I start a new topic? My interest comes from the usual - unending news reports of people having children who can't afford/look after them, and then abusing them/killing them etc. I am heavily conflicted on this subject, as my libertarian principles support a degree of "survival of the fittest" and lack of interference from authorities, but at the same time holy shit we don't just allow any person to drive a car/own a gun/fly a plane, they have to prove they're not a completely useless human being - but anyone can have a child.

i think a new thread would be wise

Sacul
September 14 2016, 12:07:42 AM
I have a slightly tangental question, but not sure whether deserves it's own thread: The "right" to have children. Is this a eugenics question, or should I start a new topic? My interest comes from the usual - unending news reports of people having children who can't afford/look after them, and then abusing them/killing them etc. I am heavily conflicted on this subject, as my libertarian principles support a degree of "survival of the fittest" and lack of interference from authorities, but at the same time holy shit we don't just allow any person to drive a car/own a gun/fly a plane, they have to prove they're not a completely useless human being - but anyone can have a child.

i think a new thread would be wise

Not really.
The universal right of the sanctity/autonomy of body is covered with having children (UN charter). The same autonomy protects you from having your organs harvested after death or in a near death coma (without pre-consent).

Steph
October 12 2016, 01:11:10 AM
Just let this subforum die already.