How’s this for a newsflash: “Rapid progress in genetics is making ‘designer babies’ more likely and society needs to be prepared, leading scientists have told the BBC.”
The subject has long been the stuff of science fiction, and it’s still way off in the future (if it happens at all), but one doctor, a pioneer in cloning, told the BBC that major advances in the past two years means “designer babies” are no longer in H.G. Wells territory.
The whole idea is creepy, right? Scientists in the lab shouldn’t be creating perfect little human beings.
But why not?
The little urchin who was genetically designed would be free of disease; he or she would be intelligent; and attractive, too, if not downright beautiful. And what exactly is wrong with that?
Well, do we really want a bunch of healthy, beautiful blond hair, blue-eyed geniuses who look like they just walked out of a modeling agency in Stockholm in our midst?
And that would be bad, because …?
One reason it might be bad is that since the technology probably wouldn’t come cheap, only rich people would be able to design their babies. You think you’ve heard screaming about income inequality. What kind of place would we inhabit if the top 1 percent were not only rich, but also beautiful and in great shape? With so many less-perfect types walking the streets, things could get ugly.
Still, what parents wouldn’t want their baby to be free of disease? And smart beats the alternative, right? And isn’t good-looking better than just about anything else?
Still, it’s creepy, right?
But I’m still not sure why.
Even if you’re against designer babies in theory, in practice is something else. What if a doctor told you he could produce a disease-free, smart, beautiful child? What would you say?
But then there’s the problem that’s always lurking in the shadows — unintended consequences? We’re not supposed to mess with Mother Nature. What if Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein combined their beauty and intelligence and made a baby together — and the kid inherited Marilyn’s brain and Albert’s looks? Uh-oh!
Or what if we wound up with a bunch of beautiful super confident smart-ass kids who not only thought they were smarter than everybody else, but really were. And they knew they were “superior” kids because their proud parents told little Adam or Nicole from the time they were old enough to read and understand Hamlet – say 2 or 3 years old – that they were special, that Mommy and Daddy paid a guy in a white coat a lot of money to design them for perfection? And that they were healthier than ordinary kids. And better looking than common children.
That’s not creepy. It’s downright scary!