Designer Babies

Designer Babies and Human Enhancement: Ronald Bailey Lectures in Moscow

Also most babies will be created using skin cells and the bioethics of radical life extension

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BaileyMoscowJuly2016
Margarita Hooge/InLiberty.ru

Moscow—The InLiberty.ru classical liberal think thank invited me to lecture on the topic of Designer Babies and the Ethics of Human Enhancement. The lecture took place in July at the DI Telegraph building in central Moscow and was attended by around 300 people. I began by describing the techniques such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis used now to test and select IVF embryos that are free of specified genetic diseases.

I moved on to describe how Stanford University bioethicist Henry Greely believes that in about 40 years half of all American babies will born using what he calls Easy PGD. Basically, Greely argues in his new book The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction that most people will use gametes produced from their skin cells to create scores of IVF embryos that will each have his or her entire genomes sequenced. Prospective parents will then choose among the embryos based on which combination of genetic traits they would prefer. Presumably they would tend avoid those embryos afflicted with debilitating genetic diseases.

Greely believes that Easy PGD will be extremely cheap, e.g., whole genome testing should fall to around $10 by the beginning of the next decade. Easy PGD would also make it possible for same sex couples to have offspring genetically related to both parents and it might even be possible for a person to have both sperm and eggs created from their skin cells, enabling them to be both mother and father of their child.

Interestingly, biologist Craig Venter, the leader of the group that raced the government to a tie in sequencing the human genome, and now founder of the life extension company Human Longevity, Inc. can sequence a fetal genome and give the mother "a picture of what her future child will look like at 18."

Further in the future, I discussed the possibilties of new whole genome editing techniques like CRISPR to generate transplant organs for people inside of animals and cure diseases. And with regard to radical life extension, I noted that Harvard biologist George Church has suggested that it might be possible to reverse the aging process in the next five years or so. Then I looked at a number of companies that are already working on treatments that they hope will slow and perhaps stop aging.

Of course, I explained why leftwing and rightwing bioconservatives who want to stop the development of these biotechnologies are morally wrong. Listen to the entire lecture below.

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54 responses to “Designer Babies and Human Enhancement: Ronald Bailey Lectures in Moscow

  1. Sex ain’t goin’ away, homie.

    1. Strawman. 99% of sex has always been superfluous.

  2. Moscow, Idaho?

    1. Fuck, beat me to it. Go Vandals!

    2. you’re thinking of InLiberty.russet

      1. Where’s Irish?!?

  3. I’m 50. These scientist need to hurry the fuck up.

  4. I bet the Russian government is all over this already.

    Just a guess.

    1. In Soviet Russia, genome sequence you?

  5. enabling them to be both mother and father of their child.

    But will the State permit that person to marry itself, and what restroom do they use?

  6. You should change the spelling of your name to Ronal’d Be?li. 😀

  7. Will they be allowed to compete in the Olympics? Can you breed them to be resistant to Zika? Can we finally end the existence of skin tones darker than SE Asian or indigenous South American?

    1. chameleons, dude. mood people, i dunno. I want green bitches, is what I’m getting at.

  8. Prospective parents will then choose among the embryos based on which combination of genetic traits they would prefer

    So, almost Gattaca.

    Further in the future, I discussed the possibilties of new whole genome editing techniques like CRISPR

    Followed by Gattaca.

    Then I looked at a number of companies that are already working on treatments that they hope will slow and perhaps stop aging.

    Good thing we found that planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. We’re going to need it.

  9. I thought CRISPR was a gay produce dating app.

    1. gay produce

      So, like, gay lettuce? Gay tomatoes?

      1. And gay bell peppers, you racist.

        1. Funny how you left out kumquats, bigot.

          1. Kumquats aren’t gay, transophobe.

            1. I ain’t your saccharine, sugar.

    2. no aubergines though, since they’re on the DL.

  10. Can ve built ze ?bermenschen mit die CRISPR Technik?

  11. Isn’t it funny that with the state of global warming being what it is there are people who believe that humans will be genetically modified to have longer lives?

    1. If extending people’s lives through CRISPR becomes possible no force of politics will be able to stop it. Just look at how much money current retirees are spending on their health just trying to eke out a few more years.

      1. If humanity can devise some method for transplanting consciousness into a machine, another thing Ron seems to think is just around the corner, there will be no need for meat sacks to be around for very long.

        1. Obama told me “if I like my meat sack, I can keep my meat sack.”

        2. If humanity can devise some method for transplanting consciousness into a machine, another thing Ron seems to think is just around the corner

          Do not confuse “Bailey’s fear of his impeding and likely death within the next two decades or so” with “a solid scientific position on the possibility of human augmentation within the next two decades or so”

          1. People should be free, and in some cases encouraged, to believe stupid things. Once upon a time, people who were afraid of dying invented gods and the afterlife. With the rise of technology, many people have ditched those old beliefs in favor of transhumanism and the singularity.

            1. That doesn’t make it better, or productive. Nietzschean anti-nihilism is a vastly superior alternative to “I’m going to pray for postmodern Judeo-Christian techno-heaven.”

              1. You know, in a funny bit of coincidence, I was watching something earlier on YouTube where yet another person called Nietzsche a nihilist. Every time I see that I can’t help but think that these people have never actually read anything by Nietzsche.

                1. Could be worse, could’ve said he was responsible for Nazism. The internet has turned Nietzsche into “that guy who has cool sounding quotes but bad ideas and, like, who would actually READ him?”

                  1. The best part was it was a guy that does philosophy lectures as part of his 10 minute summary of existentialism. At least some of his other videos were pretty good.

        3. At best such a transfer would be a copy, not s continuation of existence unless it was transferring something as ineffable as the soul. Which is a problem if you do not believe n the existence of such a thing as a soul in the first place.

          1. Your point is correct but many cant see that. No matter how many copies you make of yourself, copies that think they are you because they have your memory, the original you would still experience death.

            The only way to really extend life would be some kind of radical genetic repair. And by not standing under anvils.

            1. under anvils, on thin spits of land reaching out over a cliff, bridges under construction, and just stay away from TNT and birdseed entirely.

              1. And rockets.

  12. From the linked WaPo article:

    Lander said he could think of only a handful of human diseases that CRISPR could plausibly address at this time, and even then, he said, we should ask whether such genetic manipulation is a good idea. That’s because Nature has had millions of years to do the same experiment and has not done so.

    Nature doesn’t experiment. It, emphatically, does not experiment. And Lander calls himself a geneticist?

    1. Humans shouldn’t be running around playing Gaia.

      1. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years and look where it has gotten us. Why stop now?

    2. More specifically, Nature does not have an end goal. The only parameters that matter are “Does this hamper or improve the ability to continue to procreate?” and a multitude of attribute sets meet said criteria on an ongoing basis. The individual’s existence is not a factor outside of traits or capacities that contribute to that question’s answer.

      1. It is amazing to me how many people just cant see past human’s natural tendency to see existence as a story with a plot.

    3. “That’s because Nature has had millions of years to do the same experiment and has not done so.”

      Wow.

      1. “If God meant for man to fly….”

        Good grief. Someone slap that guy.

  13. That such technique s as described by Greely may be possible, but to think that most children would be born from such is technocratic naivete, like how back in the fifties it was said flying cars would be the normal mode of personal transportion today.

  14. You know who else wanted to lecture in Moscow about making a master race…

    1. Kane?

    2. Khan?

      *Holy shit. I just made a Star Trek joke.

      1. It happens to the best of us. I once inserted the line, “The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged” (from The Drumhead) into an actual debate an no-one noticed. I happened to have just watched the episode and thought it was the best way to express the point.

  15. I moved on to describe how Stanford University bioethicist Henry Greely believes that in about 40 years half of all American babies will born using what he calls Easy PGD.

    Those guys are hacks compared to the bioethicists at Standord University.

  16. Greely is more than seventy years behind the cutting edge of speculative reproductive technology. Robert Heinlein, in a novel published in 1942, proposed a superior version. Instead of selecting on embryos or fertilized ova, select separately on egg and sperm. Analyzing a hundred eggs and a hundred sperm gives you the ability to choose among ten thousand combinations.

    And Heinlein offered an ingenious way of solving the problem of determining what genes were in an egg or sperm without damaging it.

  17. That’s not possible in Russia,not untill the present moronic govt go

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