February 13, 2009

Life Imitates Art: Customized Babies Coming Soon

Well, that's not such an extraordinary thing when the art in question is cautionary science fiction. Here, I refer to the remarkably interesting movie Gattaca, with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. (Reviewed by this blogger three and a half years ago.) Well, it seems that the beginnings of this service are coming to pass now, in Los Angeles. This fertility clinic is offering trait selection -- sex, hair and eye color, and maybe some other things -- on its website.

Here's the question -- all parents want good things for their children. Isn't this just a logical extension of that? If I were interested in having a child, I would want that child to not inherit my genetic propensity for myopia or crooked teeth and if it were affordable, I would certainly be interested in a procedure that would minimize the chances of that for my child. Or is this somehow dehumanizing?

2 comments:

Michael Reynolds said...

Can we retrofit the kids we already have?

Φ said...

But there is an important distinction to be made here. As I remember it, the technology of Gattaca allowed the scientists (on behalf of the parents) to create an embryo with desired characteristics. But what these real-life businesses are doing is selecting for traits among embryos already created.

The paramount moral consideration is thus what happens to all those babies that would grow up to need glasses and braces.