Given the hype storm surrounding CRISPR and its potential use to create “designer babies,” it’s not surprising that many have begun to pontificate about this species-altering moment.
On August 10 a video was uploaded to YouTube with the following description:
Designer babies, the end of diseases, genetically modified humans that never age. Outrageous things that used to be science fiction are suddenly becoming reality. …
Two days later, the 16-minute animation had over two million views. It’s now the top video that comes up when you search “CRISPR” – the handle for a new “genome editing” technology that has been featured in headlines and on front pages around the world.
One set of CRISPR questions that poses hugely significant threats to future generations goes something like this:
Can we engineer human germ cells and embryos to re-wire genetic risk factors?
And if we think it’s safe enough, should we try to create genetically modified babies?
To address these questions, the video raises some helpful points. It notes the likelihood of market pressures and consumer incentives and how they might impact what sort of children and what sort of modifications become popular (”Buy two enhancements, get the third free!”).
It also illustrates the massive iceberg of unknowns facing those who are interested in pursuing genetic upgrades in the IVF clinic.
Yet the video is restricted in its ability to fully countenance the future of designer babies by its cheery optimism, by its unsupported claims that a new biological era of “intelligent design” is just inevitable, and by its assumption that people will naturally warm up to the idea as time goes on.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.