Genetic engineering, genetic modification, and genetic editing of human beings - the theoretical upsides (and maybe downsides) of such a thing

Iwasamwillbe

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Given the rise of genetic modification of crops, and the advanced made in genetic modification technology in total (cf. CRISPR), it would seem inevitable that we will eventually obtain the ability to cheaply edit human genetics, such as individual human fetuses or even entire ethnic groups. It may even be possible that we could modify the genes of already fully-grown adult human beings.

For example of what this theoretical gene-editing technology could do, one could "revise" the genes of a Somali fetus so that, given a decently average amount of food, water, housing, education, and other basic necessities, it would grow up to to be six feet tall, red-haired, hazel-eyed, traditionally "good-looking" (by Western standards), 150 IQ, and not possessing the characteristic Somali "bulb head" by the time the Somali turned 18.

One could also (theoretically) alter the genetic markers or haplogroups of a given fetus, effectively altering the ethnicity of an unborn child. For example, an aspiring Italian couple could have their unborn baby be genetically altered so that he clusters more with Iranians instead of Italian peoples, so that their child can be Persian instead of Italian.

Through this technology, one could cut down on birth defects, genetically-caused afflictions, and the like, as they "edit" the "bad" genes out and replace them with "good" genes, thus cutting down on autism, sickle-cell anemia, down's syndrome, genetic heart problems, and so much more.

The question is, should we do such a thing, or allow it to occur? And if so, should it be left to the individual or to individual parents, or should there be government programs for the purpose of "editing" genes to maximize the number and potency of beneficial traits within a given population?
 

Iwasamwillbe

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There's no stopping it. Tell people they can't do something they want to do, and they'll just get it done in China or Russia.
How long before a deranged Dr Moreau-esque geneticist decides to modify human embryos to create the first real anthros? Also, imagine to societal shitstorm that would generate.
I'm more interesting in the "changing ethnic groups" thing. Imagine a Persian couple producing an Irish baby via genetic engineering. It would be absolute madness.
 

The Mass Shooter Ron Soye

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I'm more interesting in the "changing ethnic groups" thing. Imagine a Persian couple producing an Irish baby via genetic engineering. It would be absolute madness.

The madness would be after some organization does a survey and finds out that parents are overwhelmingly choosing lighter skin tones. Cue cries of racism and genocide. Also, it would be interesting to compare the choices by country.

It's not a big deal until it becomes cheap enough for the majority of parents to do it, with every couple using IVF or artificial wombs to begin with, and the modifications being an option on top of that.
 

ZeCommissar

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The madness would be after some organization does a survey and finds out that parents are overwhelmingly choosing lighter skin tones. Cue cries of racism and genocide. Also, it would be interesting to compare the choices by country.

It's not a big deal until it becomes cheap enough for the majority of parents to do it, with every couple using IVF or artificial wombs to begin with, and the modifications being an option on top of that.

Holy fucking shit I can totally see some white liberal couple choosing to have a black baby to give "reparations". That would be fucking hilarious.

My only concern is what's stopping the genetically modified ubermensch from enslaving those who can't/won't get their children genetically engineered?
 

ConfederateIrishman

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The biggest concern I have heard is that it will increase classism as the Elites create designer babies with defects carefully pruned out; My only real response is: Yes.

Imagine knowing there is going to be a genetic elite soon and thinking it can be stopped instead of doing everything you can to ensure your descendants do not miss that train before Class lines ossify again.
 

Hellbound Hellhound

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Ostensibly, thanks to the He Jiankui affair, we are already living in that world. Since 2018, at least 2 children in China have been genetically modified using CRISPR, and that's just the ones we know about. He's research generated international condemnation from the scientific community (including from those within China), but that's not to say that public opinion won't shift once the potential benefits and risks have been more thoroughly established.

Personally, I'm of the view that any genetic modification applied to humans (including genetic modification of the food we consume) should be tightly regulated. I think there's a real risk that if this is allowed to become a free-for-all, we could end up sleepwalking our way to a world where individual humans are reduced to someone else's commodity.

I'm all for genetic modification in principle, but the idea of extending it to the point where parents can "design" their children to their exact specification, as if they were the mere equivalent of a fitted kitchen, is completely perverse to me.
 
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Lone MacReady

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The biggest concern I have heard is that it will increase classism as the Elites create designer babies with defects carefully pruned out; My only real response is: Yes.

Imagine knowing there is going to be a genetic elite soon and thinking it can be stopped instead of doing everything you can to ensure your descendants do not miss that train before Class lines ossify again.
Surely Elite-Tism, especially with genetic supermen, could NEVER result in bad things for the world.
LIQWEEEEEEED.jpg
 

le fishe

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Here's what is REALLY going to happen:

When the ability to do this comes out, all those rich enough to afford it will put their babies up for modification in some facility. They will get what they want out of it, barring anything the facility disagrees with. But you know what else this facility will do? whatever the hell they want. They could program these babies to do what they want, and they will probably be paid off by governments and corporations to be naive and believe anything and blindly support those governments like someone on antidepressants. And by the time we know it will be in every modified baby.

Step away from this unless you want your babies to be the ultimate goy. Medusa is what you get when a human tries to make a god out of themselves.
 

barbellister

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Here's what is REALLY going to happen:

When the ability to do this comes out, all those rich enough to afford it will put their babies up for modification in some facility. They will get what they want out of it, barring anything the facility disagrees with. But you know what else this facility will do? whatever the hell they want. They could program these babies to do what they want, and they will probably be paid off by governments and corporations to be naive and believe anything and blindly support those governments like someone on antidepressants. And by the time we know it will be in every modified baby.

Step away from this unless you want your babies to be the ultimate goy. Medusa is what you get when a human tries to make a god out of themselves.

nah, this'll only happen to the prole scum lower class. the ones who adopt early will get a chance to benefit from it (and hopefully establish their families as members of the top class) before it's enforced on the 99% and returns society to a state of aristocracy
the people with money and influence will be able to ensure their children don't end up like that, and the class division will turn into a massive gulf only crossable by random chance, if at all
 

le fishe

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nah, this'll only happen to the prole scum lower class. the ones who adopt early will get a chance to benefit from it (and hopefully establish their families as members of the top class) before it's enforced on the 99% and returns society to a state of aristocracy
the people with money and influence will be able to ensure their children don't end up like that, and the class division will turn into a massive gulf only crossable by random chance, if at all
Whatever happens it will obliterate humanity as we see it today. I believe a small class of those genetically engineered to maximize intelligence in every aspect (i mean smart enough to read a book in a language they don't know and just understand it instantly by the context of the words for example) will band together and form some small civilization so far advanced to everyone else they might as well be aliens, they might even just colonies another planet eventually.

The human brain is exeptionally smart, look at autistic savants for example. This will be the key to unlocking it at devastating cost. We are never going to be ready to harvest this power. No human can take the place of nature without perishing,
 

ConfederateIrishman

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Whatever happens it will obliterate humanity as we see it today. I believe a small class of those genetically engineered to maximize intelligence in every aspect (i mean smart enough to read a book in a language they don't know and just understand it instantly by the context of the words for example) will band together and form some small civilization so far advanced to everyone else they might as well be aliens, they might even just colonies another planet eventually.

The human brain is exeptionally smart, look at autistic savants for example. This will be the key to unlocking it at devastating cost. We are never going to be ready to harvest this power. No human can take the place of nature without perishing,
Keep in mind, intially at least, that it won't be that simple; It will be a lot easier to prune out things to reduce risk of cancer and other genetic errors.

Intilligence is one of those things that can be influenced by hundreds of little factors, the tricky part is that just raising IQ to a certain point will just eventually risk the chances of increased mental illness and other problems; To say nothing of the fact currently of how even pruing simple genes to lower the risk of cancer could ironicly cause the risk of something else, even different cancer, to increase.

It will get there, of course, especially as they figure out and more of how parts of the genome completely work, but don't expect a simple "intilligence boost" early on.

From what I've read back when I was taking an educational class on this subject: the most promising developments have been in removing health issues from potential fetuses, identifying the "heathiest" eggs to fertilise, identifying what gender it will be, and oddly enough possibly lower the requirement of sleep by an hour or two; None of those things by themselves are crazy, but even a few advantages can build up over time.

Now in the long term? Yes, you are probably correct.
 

Johan Schmidt

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Realistically we can easily modify children now. Any IVF clinic around the world has the ability to do this. Hell, I could do this with most of the gear we have in my uni lab. The only reason we haven't done it yet is because of morals; and our lack of knowledge about it. But all it will take is for one clinic to be set up offering the service, if it makes money then there will be others. Once there are others and it becomes common enough for the average person to really understand that it's available then we'll start to see the crazy shit start. Once it becomes economically and socially viable to start 'experimenting' at peoples behest.

It's not particularly expensive, it's entirely affordable now for an upper middle class family. Anyone that could afford IVF could probably afford modifications to their child. You don't even have to make them permanent; there are ways to limit the expression of genes now, ways to eliminate specific genes in adults now, ways to ensure that genes only activate under certain conditions now. The idea that some upper echelon will be the only ones to afford a germline treatment is pretty silly, when gene therapy is widely available now for many people. The middle classes of the 1st world will be the ones that will be genetically enhanced; not just the elite of the 1st world.