New gene editing tools could soon give us the ability to directly manipulate that genetic blueprint. And despite the controversial implications of the term "designer baby," some argue that taking a more active role in that process — eliminating a few disadvantages, or even tweaking the code to add a few extra benefits, like disease resistance or stronger muscles — is totally ethical, perhaps even a normal decision that we'll all make for our children in the future.
For now, most of the world is very unsure about this.
When researchers in China published a paper showing that they had (somewhat) successfully edited the genes of human embryos, most observers condemned the idea.
Some criticized the group's scientific capabilities: The researchers' work showed so many unpredicted and unwanted changes that many read it as proof that we shouldn't use that technology in human embryos, since those off-target effects would probably cause deadly or debilitating mutations.
Others saw this work as the scary sign of a dark future: These embryos were non-viable, meaning they were never going to lead to an actual baby. Yet making similar manipulations using an embryo that was going to be implanted and born would lead to changes that would affect more than the child that came from that embryo. These changes would also be passed on to any children these modified children had — we'd be taking a much more active, or at least technologically-enabled, hand in shaping the evolution of the human species than ever before.
For those reasons at least, right now, "everyone agrees that we shouldn't engineer a baby," says George Annas, a bioethicist at Boston University.
But what's true for now won't be true forever.
Technology is improving rapidlyResearchers are improving the accuracy of genome-editing technology at an incredible pace.
The technology the researchers from Sun Yat-sen University used to snip out and replace bits of genetic code is called CRISPR. But despite the unwanted mutations that occurred when that team modified embryos, Harvard geneticist George Church told Tech Insider that researchers are already using far more accurate versions of that technology.
Church and others say that it's already possible in some cases to edit genes with few or even almost zero unwanted mutations, suggesting that the accuracy problem will eventually be solved.
If researchers really can modify the genetic code for a human without unwanted mutations, the only question that remains is whether or not it should be done.
An ethical quandary
Is it right to change a person's DNA before they are even born, not to mention old enough to give consent?
Some researchers, like sociologist and bioethicist James Hughes of Trinity College, think that the answer could be yes.
"We allow parents to have children if they have all kinds of problems," says Hughes.
Hughes asks: If a parent were to come along and want to change the genome of their child "and the goal of this is to make sure a kid doesn't have depression or doesn't end up obese" — interesting in theory, but likely not actually possible given the complex web of environmental and genetic causes behind those conditions — "on what ground does the state then step in?"
His argument is that we don't stop people from passing on what we consider "bad" genetic codes, things that might make a person's life harder, so we shouldn't stop people from trying to provide someone with a "good" genetic code.
Hughes doesn't think we're ready to make those sorts of changes yet; he says it'd be perfectly reasonable for the government to prohibit genetically modifying human embryos until it's adequately tested and shown to be safe — still quite a high bar to pass.
But he thinks that genetically enhanced humans in the form of designer babies are going to happen.
"The research happens everywhere," he says. "In particular, it's going to happen in China."
China is a center for research into genetics and genetic engineering, and one of the most comprehensive projects that's trying to decode the links between genetics and intelligence is run by BGI, a nonprofit institution in China and the largest genomics research institute in the world.
As Hughes previously told Tech Insider, he thinks that deciding whether or not you modify the genome of your child will eventually become just the sort of regular decision that people make.
In his opinion, "those kinds of choices will become inevitable, and we'll adapt to them relatively well."
We can create a Superior race
Some people aren't capable of having babies because they will have a disease and die when they are born or when they are extremely young. Ways used to change the hereditary makeup of the egg allow these people to have babies. If you want your child to live long wouldn't you want this? Some designer babies can be used as a sort of spare part baby. Children with serious blood diseases can then have a tailor made brother or sister act as a donor for blood or bone marrow.
Let the transhumanist epoch begin
We stand the chance of advancing humanity, of discovering new potentials and greatness. Of course we should do this. To those afraid of losing genetic diversity, you are just noticing the dull, boorish conformity of our era. But people use technologies however they want. One parent wants the standard number of fingers, another thinks 12 is prettier (And as extra digits don't cause any objective harm to physical function should be allowed). This could lead to cultural trends leading to a humanity looking altogether different from now, having traits that are even impossible without engineering and having wide diversity. Adult gene therapy will follow soon and then anyone who wants will be able to go to the genetics consultant to get wings, flippers, gills, or what ever you want installed. That's the ultimate in freedom to be able to determine one's body and the future of one's body.
Don't be fooled by the pejorative term.
Opponents of this procedure are under the impression that this would be done out of vanity. Any parent wants the best for their children. If you are in the position to spare a new life from inheriting you're own defects, it would be immoral to simply spin the genetic lottery and hope for the best. Natural conception does not care about the well-being of the child that might be born, parents do.
We can make the master race
Imagine if the genes of the next generation could be chosen. We would have many more intelligent, rational, and logical children. This may help stop conflict caused by people with inferior genes. I believe if this were to happen, there would be different ideal genes for different people. Peasants and the working class should be more apt to be hard working followers. The higher class such as government officials and businessman would have genes that make them better leaders. This would advance our progress as humans. There would still be some problems such as those with bad parents may not turn out perfectly, but better genetics would always be a good thing.
50/50 I'm for both sides
Designer babies could create a gap in society. Designer babies would be better looking, smarter, etc. This could end up creating classes between non designer babies and designer babies.
The procedure is not cheap at all and not everyone could afford it.
The technology used is not 100% safe yet, it is only in the experimental stages.
Parents may use this technology for superficial purposes, such as purposely seeking out a blond haired, blue eyed baby for appearance concerns only.
Wouldn't you like to chose what you desired.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you could chose what you wanted for you babies? Can you not have babies? Designer Babies are a way for people to choose what they want. What is so difficult to understand about it? It gives parents the option of modifying their unborn children, in order to spare offspring from disease or, conceivably, make them tall, well-muscled, intelligent or otherwise blessed with desirable traits.
For the future
I think that humans have evolved up to this point. With our minds we have created and mastered many great feats including basic space flight. Now we are reaching a point where we can take control of our own evolution. So why shouldn't we?
Evolution as we know it preformed in nature basically runs on a system of trial and error that takes a very long time. Why not speed it up and cut out the mistakes and manage it accordingly.
If you do think that is strange consider all of the upgrades we have given the human body. GPS maps so you dont get lost and know where you are. Your mobile phone so you can contact and talk to anyone. Even your calendar on your smart phone that reminds you it's Mom's Birthday is an upgrade of sorts. Mother nature didn't give you that. Science gave it to you as an improvement.
So if it could be done safely, without causing evil mutants with dreams of world domination, why should we not upgrade genetically? Its science. We are machines. We should seize control of our own destinies.
Design saves lives
You are not altering the DNA itself in most cases, you are merely selecting that which will not have a detrimental affect upon your child's health. The argument that these children will be superior than others is ludicrous. There are already people in the world who are superior in certain aspects. It is the reason that some people are models and others have the capabilities to be neuro-scientists. Also, selecting a child for its superior intelligence could only benefit society, who doesn't want the cure for cancer and HIV/Aids or an end to the trouble in the Middle-East?
Designer Babies - Not Really
Designer Babies is just a slang word for genetic engineering... Most of the babies' genes are genetically altered because they will die without the altering. The altering is meant to kill certain heritable diseases. The only real risk s mitochondrial disease at this point and how they're solving this is by creating a mitochondria transplant.. This may even be into a vaccine very soon.
There should be genetic babies
We could have healthy babies free from any diseases and also parents have the right to choose what their child should and should not have . It will be a better place if we have healthier babies and stronger babies. That will be a great genetic evolution . Healthy babies healthy world.