Monday, June 19, 2006

Designer Babies will be perfect...won't they?

Sorry for the month and a half delay...recovering from the pneumonia just left me with little energy until now

I'm at Heathrow waiting on a plane. Watching a SKY news report on whether we can expect designer babies soon.

My gut reaction is yes, of course we will have this ability soon. The next question is, of course, what would you design in?

The assumption is always that babies will be designed with perfect health, eyesite, hearing, optimal height for high powered careers, high intelligence, and a good football scholarship.

But wait...

Assume for a moment you are a soon to be pregnant couple. And either your country has been or will soon be at war for a long assume 20 plus years...or you are afraid that in 10 years a new 10 year war will begin. Certainly in 1979 people legitimatley predicted we would be at war in the mid east within 2 decades and they were correct.

Perhaps your country has mandatory military service for healthy adults and that service is NOT a safe tour...very high casualty rates.

So you want to design in a few flaws:
poor enough eyesight to avoid the airforce
flat enough feet to avoid the infantry
a propensity for motion sickness that disqualifies your child for shipboard duty
Maybe not QUITE so tall and hefty and strong
A weak abdominal muscle which can herniate easily under extremes of stress
Mild chronic anemia to make them just a bit too weak for duty

Many such conditions are correctable, but correction requirements could disqualify your child from service...making them safer.

Would you spoof the system in such a way? Would your doctor?

is it ethical? more or less so than to order up a perfect child? Do you tell your child what you did? When?

Sometimes the obvious assumptions have unintended consequences and people in the real world make what seem to be unusual uses of technology...uses we technologists seldom see on the horizon.

Thoughts and comments?