Would you have a designer baby?

Let’s assume that the technology exists, this is legal, and not expensive. Let’s assume that if you want to create a baby, besides the traditional methods, you could go to a medical clinic and have your own genetic material taylored to your exacting specifications around fertilization time, then give birth normally.

For example, let’s say you could pick sex, eye color, hair color, skin color, and almost any physical characteristic like height, body frame, tendancies towards or against specific diseases, even IQ range, maybe musical ability. I realize that it may not be possible to choose some of these items exactly, but at least you wouldn’t be letting nature take its random course.

For the sake of argument, I am leaving out such choices as how many arms, fingers legs, inserting pig genes, or other genetic manipulation of a freakish nature.

So my questions are:[ol][]Would you do this for your child?[]Would it be a good thing for the human race, or would we be sowing the seeds of our own demise by “playing god” and defeating evolution?[/ol](I realize Q #1 is more IMHO, but #2 seems like a serious enough question for GD.)

It’s a tough call.

How could you not give your child the best possible start in life? If I could magically make my child smart, attractive, and disease free…I’m afraid I would probably do it.

OTOH, it’s just wrong. Not to mention that as everyone started making their children “perfect”, the human race would become a blah sea of sameness. I don’t think it would be a good thing for humans in the end.

Well, since you listed diseases/birth defects in there, of course I would. If I could “inoculate” against retardation/cystic fibrosis/etc by modifying a few genes, why would I not do that when I have no problem inoculating my kids against measles or smallpox?

That I can’t see. While we all might want to avoid obeisity or be tall, I doubt if we would all want the same hair color or shape of face.

At first thought, that’s a no-brainer. But here we get into the interfering-with-evolution aspect, where we might be weakening the human race by becoming a mono-culture. What’s good for one child might not be good for all in the long run.

I’d do it. I’d feel a little weird about it, but I would do it. I think most people would. Your kid would be at a disadvantage, really, if you didn’t. I don’t think it wold be such a big deal, in the end. In fact, I’m having a hard time saying what is so wrong with it, although it does* feel *wrong. Huh. I’m curious what everyone else thinks.

Just because there’s the potential to design every aspect of the child doesn’t mean that every parent who has a kid using this method is required to. I would want to ensure, if at all possible, that my child would not be prone to the health problems that have plagued others in my family. I wouldn’t want my child to suffer from scoliosis or have a heart murmur or diabetes and I would take any opportunity presented to protect my child from these issues.

But. I would feel no obligation or interest in controlling gender, sex, orientation, personality (beyond, hopefully, preventing personality disorders or mental illness), intelligence (beyond protecting my child from defects which might cause a deficit in intellectual ability), height, coloring, or interests.

I really don’t see how it would be a bad thing for the human race, so long as it was up to the individual parents. Choosing what traits your child will have is part of the natural order of things and survival of the fittest–what do you think governs our choice in sexual partners, after all?

True. It would probably be akin to the rash of same names we see in a given time period. (An example would be “Cody” from the early nineties)

A lot of blondes one generations…then reheads…then brunettes.

I wonder if you wouldn’t have the vague feeling that the kid isn’t really yours. That’s not to say you can’t love kids that aren’t “yours” but it might be weird to have a child come out of your body that was not naturally “constructed” with your attributes and those of the father. I dunno…

I deffinatly would the little cost at the beginning of life would aleviate so many other costs along the way, paying for college, creat a super athalete and watch him grow. I wouldn’t want to mess with personality or looks but if my kid could be tweeked into have a proclivity for developing fast twitch muscel fibers I don’t see any harm.

Besides I’m deffinatly on the look out for that 6’4’’ gorgous validictorian who was an all american and when i find her watch out world 11 kids later I’m gonna start my own football team. If you know any point them my way.

That pretty much sums up my feeling, but it’s a Brave New World we live in.

Some predictions I can make:[ul][li]Someone will create a superman athlete. This will lead to banning of non-random-genetic participants in sports (how that can be done, I don’t know)[]There will be a religious objection that we are playing god[]Prohibition of such genetic control may be made illegal but you can still get it done underground[]Some of the justification for such a ban will be based on faulty science using an example of one experiment gone awry and a crazed mutant terrorizes Tokyo (oh, wait – that’s already been done)[]There will be a revised version of Frankenstein, maybe even a sitcom, My Little Mutant Soprano.[/ul][/li]
Regarding the “playing god” aspect…I think it is time mankind came to terms with the knowledge that we can now perform many of the functions that, philosophically, only gods have been able to do in the past. Our god legends are full of godly mistakes, so apparently being a god doesn’t make one perfect, and I’m sure we won’t be, either, but that’s not sufficient excuse not to try. But I don’t doubt that there will be a movement to control the extent, somewhat like the current controls on stem cells and abortion, more based on philosophy or theology than science.

It would sure raise some doubts…

“Honey, our kid doesn’t look like me; he’s more like Bob next door. Are you sure I’m the father?”

“Of course, Dear, don’t you remember we paid extra for that radical new skin tone, hair and eyes?”

I would play around with the genetic cocktail available through me and my wife - no additions, just pick and choose what is available from our shelves only. That way the kid is still ours, and arguably could have still come from us through chance rather than selection.

I would not want to add from other lines, unless there was a specific disease related gene we were trying to replace.

HOWEVER - we (that is, mankind) does not know CRAP about how these genes interact. My fear is that if every kid born has been altered, we will accidentaly get rid of something that we really need.

Musicat brings up a good point and what I think would end up being the biggest concern in all of this, actually. Sports. I don’t care about making my kid the biggest, fastest and strongest but there are people who would. Who would see their kids as investments. There would a ton of potential for abuse on that issue, actually.

It’d be the equivalent of pushing the breed standards for dogs to the extremes, except in this case it would be children, designed and born to be as big and fast and strong as possible and to bring their parents wealth and fame. Then, we’d have problems with the exploitation of the children, the possible health risks of pushing their bodies to the extreme, and the unpleasant fact that sports would be less about natural talent and devotion and more about a genetic arms race.

Well, since I already made some of those choices, I guess I’d have to say yes.
Picking another blond, blue eyed, tall and thin partner tipped the scales on some of the options.
And an amniotic fluid test was done to check for Rh concerns, but had they discovered abnormalities I’m sure we’d have chosen to abort. I don’t believe that it’s my “obligation to God” (or the Fates) to carry a deformed child.

Absolutely, if only to screen out various diseases that run in my family. Trivial stuff like hair and eye colour, I’d leave to chance, though I’d boost intelligence if I could.

The opportunity might be sufficient to change my decision to not have children at all, but probably not.

Well, it’s a tough call - my dad is colorblind, which makes me a carrier and means that, if I remember my high school biology right, half of any sons of mine and a quarter of any daughters will be colorblind. I mean, it’s not like it’s a huge disability, but it’s some disability - my dad couldn’t be a Seabee when he wanted to. Also, although I understand that heredity of type 2 diabetes is poorly understood, my dad’s got that too. If it was possible, cheap, and easy to make sure that my kids didn’t suffer from that part of my genetic heritage, then why shouldn’t I?

On the other hand, well, I had to have years of orthodontics, years of glasses and contacts and then surgery… shouldn’t I spare them that too? And, hell, middle school was awful for me - why not just go ahead and make them better looking and more socially adept and and and and… I can see how it would be a pretty tough call, what to do and what not to do.

I guess this all just proves that I’m life unworthy of life and should really think twice about reproducing. :wink:

Assuming I wanted a child in the first place, I’d regard it as my duty to do so. Not only does it fall under your duty to do as well by your child as you can, if I don’t the child will end up hopelessly outclassed by the kids who were improved.

Evolution is a description of how things work, not a moral imperative. And even if it were, this isn’t defeating it. Some genes will spread faster than others, and some will perish; that’s evolution, whether the instrument of choice is a sabretooth or a parent’s preference.

I’ll also add that if you don’t, your child will likely end up hating you. How would it feel being uglier, stupider, sicker, weaker, shorter lived than other people, and knowing that your condition was a deliberate choice by your parents ? Not even a mistake ?

On the other hand there should be limits, otherwise as said you’d end up with the kid who’s a super athlete but overspecialized and weak in other ways; stupid or a short lifespan, say. Or you’d have religious parents creating kids hardwired to be fundies, say. Or parents who want “tough” kids creating psychopaths. At least for the first generation or two I’d rule out any psychological tweaking, beyond preventing insanity.

Then you’ll have the “furry” modifications - “We’re expecting our first batch of human-cat babies any day now!” “Well, my firstborn is gonna have wings. And a 9 foot breastbone so they can use it.”:wink:

The safety concerns could be pretty huge. As is the possibility of creating a super athlete who’s joints fall about at 45, or an intentional autistic savant.

Once we know how to do it safely though, and damn it’d be a tough process to thoroughly test ethically, of course I would. Not making a superbaby would be the equivalent of not vaccinating the kid, or not sending it to school. An abandonment of my parental duty to give my offspring every opportunity I can.

Exactly. I’ve seen Gattaca! :stuck_out_tongue: And really, I can easily see this becoming a social scenario where “random” kids become second-class citizens. While we might include genetic modification in official protected class listing to avoid legal discrimination, I can’t help but feel that social discrimination would be high. After all, I’ve seen the sideways glances and watched mothers at the playground twitter to one another when my daughter shows in a 5 year old recycled stroller, and they nearly go apoplectic when they find out I haven’t gotten her on any “good” preschool waiting lists yet (she’s 2). The idea that “random” kids’ parents didn’t love them enough to give them every opportunity is pretty scary. If the best and the brightest are made to order, of course they’ll get the good jobs and the good mates. The “random” people will get the leftover dregs. So legally, politically and socially, I would fight this sort of technology from becoming available.

Personally, though, yeah, if I lost that fight, I’d do it. I don’t think any parent who’s spent a night in the hospital with their kid wouldn’t, frankly. I’d do anything in my power to prevent another child of mine from needing a spinal fusion surgery, or prevent my kid from being the dumbest kid in his class.

Maybe that makes me a hypocrite. Luckily, it’s not a question I’ll ever have to answer in real life. My breeding days are done.

In such a Brave New World you could choose to create an Alpha or risk having an Epsilon “naturally.”

It would be difficult to assign your child lifetime servanthood to the Alphas in the name of ethical or moral correctness.

I do not think we are more than two generations away from being able to choose for major characteristics such as IQ and athleticism.