Choosing Smart Embryos Isn't Immoral

It would be deeply immoral to require parents to select for particular traits, but it is also wrong to deny them the chance to make life easier for their children.


Let's say you're a fertility doctor advising would-be parents who have exactly two viable embryos ready for implantation. The parents want to implant only one embryo. This is not an uncommon scenario; more than 71,000 babies were born in the U.S. via assisted reproduction in 2016.

For several decades now, folks using in vitro fertilization (IVF) have also tested for the single genes associated with certain heritable genetic diseases (such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, or hemophilia) and chromosomal abnormalities (such as those that cause Down syndrome). Nearly three-quarters of Americans approve of this pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) testing for diseases that are fatal early in life, according to a 2015 survey in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, and two-thirds support it for conditions that cause lifelong disability.

But let's say that in the case of these two embryos, you have more information. Perhaps test results indicate that both embryos are physically healthy but also suggest that one of them is five times less likely to complete college than the other. Or perhaps the only discernible difference between the two embryos is a higher likelihood of coronary disease, which manifests late in life and is typically manageable with medication.

Stephen Hsu, co-founder* of the New Jersey genetic testing startup Genomic Prediction, raises hypotheticals like these and asks, "Do you tell the parents this information?"

The right answer to Hsu's question is yes, if the parents want to know.

Most common illnesses that afflict people are not the result of single gene defects but the aggregate of hundreds or thousands of different genes. By comparing whole genome sequences from large numbers of people to the diseases and traits reported in their medical records, however, researchers are now able to determine "polygenic" risk scores for such illnesses as diabetes, atrial fibrillation, inflammatory bowel disease, and breast cancer.

Based on the results of rapidly multiplying studies on these scores, genetic testing companies have begun offering to test IVF embryos for a wide variety of diseases. According to Genomic Prediction, its Expanded Pre-Implantation Genomic Testing "allows the routine, inexpensive evaluation of hundreds of thousands of genetic variants," enabling the company to generate polygenic risk scores that diagnose the risk of genetic disorders in IVF embryos.

When it comes to intelligence, for now Genomic Prediction's risk scoring can only identify genetic outliers—those embryos more likely to have either very low or very high intelligence.

What should we think about all of this? In a November New Scientist article, Lynn Murray, spokesperson for the Down syndrome support group Don't Screen Us Out, said, "If we consider inclusion and diversity to be a measure of societal progress, then IQ screening proposals are unethical." Also in New Scientist, University of Queensland geneticist Peter Visscher denounced using such tests to select embryos predicted to have high intelligence as "repugnant" but acknowledged that it is "technologically feasible."

But in 2018, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine concluded that PGD for "adult-onset conditions is ethically justified when the condition is serious and no safe, effective interventions are available." In addition, the organization accepts that "reproductive liberty arguments ethically allow" testing for adult-onset conditions of lesser severity.

Forcing parents to submit to the random vagaries of the genetic lottery puts them and their prospective children at risk of having harder lives. Higher intelligence correlates with the sorts of life achievements and satisfactions that most people want for their kids, including greater health, longevity, and economic success. Low intelligence is not a disease, but to require parents to preserve it in the age of polygenic selection solely for the sake of diversity is to force them to accept a trait that generally makes life more difficult for those who have it.

It would be deeply immoral to require parents to select for particular traits, but it is also wrong to deny them the chance to make life easier for their children.

*CORRECTION: The initial version of this article misstated Stephen Hsu's title.

NEXT: Brickbat: Would 'Tushyman' Be OK?

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  2. Lynn Murray, spokesperson for the Down syndrome support group Don't Screen Us Out, said, "If we consider inclusion and diversity to be a measure of societal progress, then IQ screening proposals are unethical."

    Give us more idiots, more progressives, more future parasites on society!!

    1. Any screening enforced by the state would be unethical and unconstitutional (we hope).

      But are we wise enough to prevent this? See China: one child policy.

    2. Inclusion is good because there are people who will have better lives if they are included in more normal activity, not because it's desirable in and of itself to have more retarded people around.

      Of course people are going to love their Down syndrome babies, as they should. But let's not pretend that it doesn't really fuck up your life to have a severely disabled child.

    3. What a bunch of sick fucking bastards.

      Being retarded is NOT a good thing. This is no different than saying we should have Siamese twins, because having those poor people in the world to look at as a sideshow freak is cool and diverse. The suffering that people with severe physical or mental disabilities have to suffer through is immense... Not to mention the drag they are on society in general, and especially their family.

      What the hell is wrong with these people.

      1. Some deaf people marry other deaf people in the hopes of having deaf babies. Kind of perplexing.

        1. Yeah, those are the worst.

          Yeah, there is an interesting and distinct culture and language that deaf people share. It still sucks to be deaf.

          1. Being deaf just means you can't hear, so yes, it's a defect. There was this same nitwit objection when Cochlear implants came out

      2. Ok Margaret Sanger...

        They are people and to say inconvenience is a means to determine whether someone should not live is a disgusting idea.

        You don't seem particularly pleasant, but it would be wrong to snuff your life because of the headache you give the rest of us who actually use our brains, dragging the collective IQ of this comment thread to a level you apparently would consider "OK" to kill.

      3. Ok Margaret Sanger...

        They are people and to say inconvenience is a means to determine whether someone should not live is a disgusting idea.

        You don't seem particularly pleasant, but it would be wrong to snuff your life because of the headache you give the rest of us who actually use our brains, dragging the collective IQ of this comment thread to a level you apparently would consider "OK" to kill.

        1. Juice, Yup. I actually read an entire article about that some time ago, and they brought up the thought of testing embryos in there too. It is REALLY weird...

          As for the next guy... It's the truth dude.

          It's not like they were born with red hair, so people can say it's silly, or ugly, or whatever... It is an actual defect.

          They do not GAIN from being deaf. I'm not saying they should be rounded up and shot, I'm just saying it's sub optimal. Anybody with any sense would know that. It's like being born without legs. Yeah, you might be a nice person, and even grow up to be a productive person... But things would still be better if you had friggin' legs.

          I can kinda understand the weird sense they have of having grown to accept their defect as being okay... Because it is OKAY. But it's not good. They have mind tricked themselves into thinking it is as a coping mechanism. But no sane person would think being blind, or deaf, or legless is a GOOD thing. It's not.

    4. Lynn Murray sounds like a real peach. Jesus, what a sanctimonious twit.

  3. Cull those LGBT embryos!

    1. And suddenly, the "lgbtq" crowd is the biggest pro-life, anti-abortion group. Pat Robertson doesn't look so bad anymore.

      Can't wait for the discovery of the gay gene.

    2. Actually, you wanna know what's funny?

      By some studies that have been done, the number of Gay men as a percentage of the population has dropped by something like 25% since the 1990s... Which was basically when the last generation of children were coming of age that had been born in a time when almost all gay men still bred.

      Basically the theory is since gay men have been able to just come out, and not have to have sham marriages... They're just not breeding much anymore, so the gay genes are largely going extinct. Gays were largely able to just run off to SF, NYC, etc by the 70s and 80s, and that was when their rate of breeding dropped off dramatically. Hence "peak gay" happened in the 90s.

      It's interesting stuff. Google if interested, as the numbers are fairly solid.

      1. Self-correcting problem solved by Darwinism.

        Gay people don't want to admit that man-woman parenting is the human norm, then gays produce less off-spring.

        1. I spose. I've always thought the evolutionary ideas behind why gay people might exist to be interesting. Some have said instances of homosexuality increase with population density, this has been observed in animals. So population balancing more or less.

          Others say they exist to be productivity boosters who help out the family/tribe, while not procreating themselves.

          Either way, I think it is very funny that the very openness and acceptance of their kind will likely be what reduces them down to being a VASTLY smaller portion of the population than they are now.

        2. Gay people don't want to admit that man-woman parenting is the human norm, then gays produce less off-spring.

          [Citation needed]
          What gay people say is "we're just fine as parents". Not that it's the "norm".

          1. As is pointed out, gay parents produce less off spring than straight parents.

            1. Gay couples...

              Gay parents would have kids. Maybe not biological kids though.

            2. Which still has nothing to do with fitness.

          2. Well, there have actually been studies that show that kids raised by gay couples don't turn out as well as those raised by 2 regular parents... But those ones get brushed under the carpet.

            I'm sure SOME gay couples are fine, and some are shit, just like any other couple. But I would bet my left testicle that if fair and proper studies were done, there would be more issues with kids raised by gays. Especially in terms of being "confused" about certain subjects, like their sexuality.

      2. It seems pretty clear that there is no "gay gene", but there are combinations of genes that make gayness far more likely. It's also clear that, while there are environmental influences, researchers could not figure out what they are - not even when they strongly _wanted_ to find them and eliminate them. So both the genetics and the environmental influences are complex and nothing a bigot would think was related.

        Another question is why evolution didn't reduce the occurrence of such gene combinations to less than 1%. Some hypotheses:

        1. Like sickle-cell anemia, it's a side effect of genes that are favorable to survival and/or breeding, except when they occur together in the wrong combination. And the advantage can be rather subtle, since the "gay gene combination(s)" appear to be considerably less disadvantageous than two copies of the sickle-cell gene; most gays are bisexual with a preference for gay sex, and don't breed at a much lower rate than the exclusively heterosexual.

        1. 2. A strongly favorable gene, such as a strong sex drive or the ability to _talk_ to women, has the unavoidable side effect of sometimes going wrong, evolutionarily speaking. This is really pretty common with other genes, especially as applied to males; if big antlers help a male deer get the females, antlers will evolve so large that some males get tangled up in the brush and die from them - it's no worse a loss evolutionarily speaking than having undersized antlers and always losing out to the better endowed males.

          3. There is a long-term survival advantage to a gene line that produces an occasional non-breeding male. E.g., when a volcano erupts or the worst winter in hundreds of years occurs, the surviving children are more likely to be those that were looked after by three adults rather than just two: a mother, father, AND a childless uncle. And this is more effective when that childless uncle is a normal male in strength and all other characteristics except sexual orientation.

        2. 4. Or maybe the ancient Greeks and other cultures where mature men mentored young men in pederastic relationships were the rule rather than the exception during our evolution, over 90% of which preceded any recorded history. That would mean that evolution for social success favored bisexuality with a tilt towards women when available, but plenty of room for other relationships. This being a fuzzy process, there would be "failures" both in the direction of exclusive heterosexuality, leading to social exclusion and not getting a wife, and in developing too much of a taste for men and boys and neglecting ones wife. We've learned better ways of mentoring in the last two or three thousand years, but that's far too short a time to reverse the genetics.

  4. Nearly all species of animals select mates which give their offspring better chances at survival through the traits that they exhibit. Just because humans have advanced to the level of intelligence to have the ability to do this at a genetic level only enhances the future of our species. I see absolutely no issues with this at the embryonic level, and certainly no reason for this to be illegal even if we can disagree on the ethics of it all.

    1. Most species don't view their offspring as their property. All our intelligence does is encourage us to do just that.

      And here I thought we had moved beyond the notion of humans as property.

      1. and no - it won't help the survival of the species because our knowledge does not make the future more predictable or more amenable to what is known.

  5. Sooooooooo high IQ, white, male, tall, straight, muscular, big penis, big hands, no deformities, non-ginger.

    1. Are you sharing your Tinder search criteria?

      1. I expected that comment:)

    2. Do you know who else wanted everyone to be like that?

      1. If you include alcoholic, every Irishman ever!

      2. Everybody?

        Studies done all around the world show that ALL races find white people the most attractive. Both white men and especially white women. Especially blondes. Even within any given racial group, those with paler skin are considered more attrative. So think pale Japanese/Chinese, or pale Indians, Arabs, etc.

        Every race likes tall, strong, etc etc etc too of course. Science isn't always kind to all people. Nobody like fatties, and also prefers light skin... It is what it is.

        I'm gonna have to disagree on the ginger thing though... I love redheads. I think they're my fave, followed by blondes of course.

        1. +100

  6. One Master Race, coming up!

    1. Hey Phil, it might be Against All Odds that just One More Night with an Easy Lover would generate embryos with Two Hearts that would say Take Me Home to Another Day in Paradise. Fortunately for you though, I Don't Care Anymore to continue this rouse.

        1. You're confusing me with the singer. I'm a resident of Sunnyvale Trailer Park.

          1. What's Sarah's number?

          2. In that case, you're dead.

      1. Quite the cheer if you had been able to incorporate Sussudio into that post.

  7. "The predominance of genetic drift for small populations is due to a simple scaling law. Genetic drift scales with the inverse square root of population. This means that genetic drift is ten times faster for a population of ten thousand than for a population of a million. The scaling is the same for any kind of random mutations. If we observe any measurable quantity such as height, running speed, age at puberty, or intelligence test score, the average drift will vary with the inverse square root of population. The square root results from the statistical averaging of random events."

    ----Freeman Dyson


    1. The consequences of overriding the scaling law may be profound. It used to be that the advances in genetic traits was limited by the inverse square root of the population. As the better genes we get from drift predominate, the high end of the genes get higher and better through drift as the group size they're selecting from gets smaller. An Amazonian tribe will have a larger difference between its genetically smartest member and its dimmest bulb, and its the genes of the smartest members that tend to predominate in terms of leadership, decision making, etc. The race might not always go to the swiftest individual, but, over time, advantages proliferate across a population because they're advantageous.

      The same thing is true in the USA. The inverse square root of 350 million Americans is a lot smaller than the inverse square root of 350 tribe members. Should it be surprising that we don't have as many revolutionary ideas as we once did? My grandparents grew up in the days of horse and buggy. They lived to fly on a commercial airplane from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Freed from the scaling law by genetic editing, there's no telling what we might live to see and do. Yeah, they lived to see whole cities destroyed by bombers in World War II, as well, but the Nazis didn't rise to power because they were smarter than everyone else.

      A smarter population might have avoided the biggest mistakes of the 20th century.

      1. I think most accounts of technological progress see it as having accelerated in the late 20th century and continuing even more quickly today. That really doesn't square with your explanation here. By your idea here, we should be stuck in the mud with scarcely any innovation.

        1. Exactly, I was just about to say something similar. His great-grandparents likely didn't see the same rate of technological growth in their lifetimes as his grandparents (even if we just focus on travel). His children were likely born in the days of relatively very cheap commercial flights from LA to Hong Kong and will likely see more common commercial space flights within their lifetimes.

        2. I didn't say "technological progress". I said "revolutionary ideas".

          Going from the impossibility of flight to buying a ticket on a routine flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong is revolutionary.

          Whatever progress we've made in airplanes since the 747 was introduced in 1970 isn't anywhere near as impressive as the difference between what was possible for an average person to do in an airplane in 1920 vs. what we were able to do in 1970.

          How can the improvement of antibiotics be more revolutionary than the discovery of antibiotics themselves?

          1. Your argument here is cherry picking. You point to a few past revolutionary ideas and see the evolutionary nature of what happens after them as proof that progress is slowing, but only because you narrowly define the field.

            Let's take the example of antibiotics. If you look wider, you see *huge* revolutions in medicine in recent decades. Many things that would have killed you in the 1980s are easily treatable now, based on revolutionary ideas that have emerged since then. Things that would have killed you five years ago are treatable today. Look at targeted immunotherapy. Absolutely a revolution on par with antibiotics. Look at non-invasive surgical treatments, PET, MRIs. The revolutions within my lifetime are staggering, and they are coming faster and faster.

            Look at GPS-enabled navigation. Look at two-day shipment due to revolutionary changes in logistical theory since the 1970s.

            Or look at material science and 3-D printing. Look at neural networks that are enabling machines to do things that sounded like fantasy a few years ago. In my particular field of research (machine translation) more fundamental improvement has happened since 2015 than had happened in the previous 60 years, and it is has all been enabled by recent revolutionary change in computing.

            I really don't know how you can look at the world around you and conclude that things are slowing down, especially based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the genetic drift argument.

            1. "You point to a few past revolutionary ideas and see the evolutionary nature of what happens after them as proof that progress is slowing, but only because you narrowly define the field."

              1) I haven't said that progress is slowing. I've suggested that revolutionary ideas are coming less frequently--certainly ideas that profoundly change our lives. Watching television over the internet is not as revolutionary as the invention of television. We have not experienced technological change in our lifetimes anywhere near as much as people who were born near the beginning of the 20th century and lived into the 1990s--because those changes were revolutionary. What's happened since is mostly a refinement of revolutionary changes that happened long ago.

              2) The point is that to make the next revolutionary changes, we may need much smarter people than we have now. The history of breakthroughs is the history of the smart people who made them. Having profoundly smarter people certainly won't make big breakthroughs less likely. For a long time, the genetic component in our intelligence has been limited by the scaling law associated with genetic drift. Genetic editing could remove that cap, and then we're more likely to see more revolutionary changes going forward.

              1. +100 Ken.

              2. I still disagree on the revolutions front, but your point got bogged down in the genetic drift argument, which really doesn't work the way you seem to think it does, and it certainly wasn't helped by the argument about population sizes.

                But I could agree about trying to remove artificial caps.

                1. Err, natural caps

              3. I have utmost respect for Professor Dyson (in fact, my son is named after him) but the unique properties of genetic drift do not apply to human learning and "Big Ideas".

                Genetic drift, like human learning, is merely a way to test the environment with multiple strategies, to find new solutions to problems. With genetic drift, the problem is that once a successful solution to a problem is found (via genetic drift), it takes a long time for that new solution to then make its way into the general population. Therefore, there are benefits to keeping that population small enough to have faster propagation of successful strategies.

                However, humans have developed language and writing. Once a solution to a problem is found, that solution can be made available to the general population virtually overnight. Additionally, genetic drift is largely random- and therefore there is often an equal chance that a recombination of genes will be unsuccessful compared to existing solutions. Human learning overcomes that- no longer is an entire generation fixed with the solutions it inherited from its parents. Instead a human can try an idea, discard it and try another. They can direct their problem solving.

                The rules of genetic drift and natural selection have largely been broken for the Human being. It took on the order of millions of years for birds to accumulate the genetic information necessary to fly. Once written language was invented, Humans did it in less than 5000 years.

                1. Very nice summary of why Ken's utilization here doesn't work. Larger populations have distinct advantages in producing the revolutionary ideas he says we are missing:

                  1. Long tails. If you have a large population you will, statistically, have more of the exceptional individuals who can give you revolutionary thought. They are also more likely to find each other to build collaborative ideas and command the resources needed to make them a reality.

                  2. Specialization. In small populations, people are more likely to have to be generalists. Although there is an advantage in cross-disciplinary thinking, revolutions are more likely to come from people who have had the luxury to think deeply about things.

                  At the end of the day, genetic drift is a very poor model for cultural change. Good ideas from one exceptional individual can propagate rapidly in a culture while genes would take centuries to do to. Applying the genetic drift model here is an extremely poor fit.

                  1. Again, I'm talking about only the genetic components of technological revolutions. Yes, there are other factors that also contribute to or drag on innovation, but the speed of improvements to the gene pool are inversely related to the size of the gene pool--regardless of whether there are other drags on technological innovation that aren't directly related to genetics. Gene editing can get us around those limitations.

                    P.S. You know, our neocortex didn't simply spring full bodied from the void. They were a product of genetics. Our genes can only combine in certain ways, and those ways are limited by what is possible. What is possible can be described mathematically, and so can the way those genes proliferate across generations. The correct formula for measuring that square root of its inverse. Maybe you need to get some mice and fruit flies and work this stuff out for yourself. My understanding is that this formula and its implications have been rigorously scrutinized since 1968.

                2. Like I said, the benefit here is that whatever constraints the scaling rule placed on the genetic component of our intelligence, gene editing is likely to lift that. We still have trouble with tracing the boundaries of consciousness. I understand things as different as dolphins and the European magpie can pass the mirror test. It is not clear to me that pre-hominid ancestors suddenly had a conscious baby one day. My understanding is that human babies can't pass the mirror test until they reach a certain stage of development. I know that our neocortex evolved to accommodate the advantages conferred by language and religion. I do not know that there is nowhere further for our minds to evolve. I do not know that a society filled with tens of millions of genetically engineered super geniuses won't discover a warp drive or how to stop cells from aging. I think it's an extraordinary claim to think that the human mind has been essentially perfected and that increasing the average intelligence of society by releasing us from the constraints of genetic drift won't have a profound impact on technological progress. But I'm willing to admit it's a possibility.

              4. I don't even see "the invention of television" as an event. Rather, it's justs been, & continues to be, gradual improvements in the speed of recording, xmission, & display of images since the fax machines of the 1840s.

                Much tech hasn't progressed so much via revolutionary ideas as via the gradual accumul'n of capital. Mass literacy wouldn't've done much good until enough people could afford paper & ink. It's not like paper got that much cheaper, just that people had more $ left over to spend on it, rather than having to carve wood, bone, stone, or clay. Re video & audio, we had the advance from wire to wireless, but when we got rich enough & laid enough wire, we went back to wire.

                1. Yeah, doesn't explain what he thinks it does.

                  Big populations have more smart people overall. It just means that IF modern society were selecting for higher intelligence, it would take longer to spread out than in a society where there were fewer people.

                  The thing is, we're actually selecting for LOWER intelligence as per statistics. This is a known thing. So our massive population is actually probably helping the dysgenic trend if anything.

              5. I think you're both cherry-picking *and* underestimating just how revolutionary technological change has been.

                How does the microwave stack up to the electric stove? I'd say the microwave was much more revolutionary.

                The television vs. the personal computer? I'm going with the PC. Then the internet was so completely revolutionary it single-handedly transformed society. This is harder to see for older people, who can avoid the internet in a lot of ways if they choose.

                How about the rise of cell phones and smart phones? More revolutionary than the home telephone? I'm thinking yes.

                Malls vs. Internet shopping? Internet shopping is a lot more revolutionary.

                Artificial intelligence? Every 5 years makes the stuff they were doing 5 years before look like the stone age. And AI is going to be more significant than pretty much any invention in human history.

                Medical genetics? Most significant medical breakthrough ever. We're in early stages still, but this is going to make penicillin look like an elementary school science fair project long before we've mastered it.

                1. I think part of this is age related. You strike me as being old enough that you don't grok the ramifications of a lot of more recent technological innovations, because you aren't culturally immersed in them like you were older technologies. A lot of modern technologies are very much 'opt in'. Going to guess you aren't spending much time interacting with groups of children either, so your ability to measure the social dimensions of change is much reduced. (Having grandkids is very much not enough). If you want to understand how much different things are today from when you were young, you need to engage with teenagers - they're the ones who are truly living in and adapting to the modern technological world.

                  I think you're also biasing your analysis in terms of 'scale'. More recent technological innovations aren't as *large* - ie, a commercial airliner is pretty huge. A cell phone is relatively small. But the societal transformation caused by the cell phone is significantly larger than commercial air travel.

                  I think there's also a definite time horizon bias here. We look at older technologies and discoveries and we get to see the other technologies and discoveries they resulted in. That gives them added significance, because we have more context for their importance. Newer technologies/discoveries have less history, and thus fewer consequences to measure them by. (Not helped by increasing disconnect as we age from the full ramifications of those technologies).

                  1. It may well be true that discoveries in some areas (perhaps basic physics) are slowing down, but if they are, that's because innovation and discovery has moved elsewhere. And it won't really be clear that they have until enough time has passed that we can truly assess the significance of new discoveries.

                    Finally, if your genetic drift argument was real, we should see continuous slowing of technological innovation over human history. But no one would be taken serious arguing the medieval period was more innovative than the 20th century.

                    1. The scaling law associated with genetic drift isn't the only drag on technological progress. It's a significant one I'm pointing out in a thread about gene editing, but there are others.

                      Socialism is another huge drag on technological progress. Some of the most interesting work on genetics in the Soviet Union was done practically in secret because the political implications were considered counter-revolutionary.

                      I'm not sure how well China's elite will deal with creative destruction when it comes to revolutionary change.

                    2. "Finally, if your genetic drift argument was real"

                      I'd love to be the guy that discovered genetic drift and first understood its implications. I credit Freeman Dyson with first explaining it to me, and he credits Motoo Kimura, both of whom I've linked in this thread.

                  2. I'm more socially savvy than you realize, spend more time with 20 somethings than you realize, and I maintain that video communication through a cell phone isn't as revolutionary as being able to talk in real time over great distances or being able to broadcast video.

                    Doing something no one could do before is fundamentally more revolutionary than improving on what we can already do.

          2. It could also be that we've gotten to a point where really revolutionary ideas or technologies are much more difficult to come by. We've done all the easy stuff, and a lot of the pretty hard stuff. Could be that we are past the point where revolutionary tech can be thought up by one or a few people.

            And if this genetic engineering/artificial selection stuff really takes off, that's a pretty revolutionary idea.

            1. I agree that we may have taken all the low hanging fruit (in terms of revolutionary change) that our present intelligence level can pick. Upping the intelligence level through genetic editing might be a great way to address that.

              1. Yeah. This is a big part of it all. We figured out all the stuff that was easy to do with the current "basic" tools that are at our disposal.

                Where future massive advances will come from will be whole new paradigms in the tools we have to use. Like nano tech is FINALLY kicking out CRAZY new materials just in the last few years, after decades of knowing it would probably come sooner or later. Same is likely with medical in the coming years because of gene editing, massive processing power, being able to crunch data sets in ways that figure out really odd connections humans would never notice, etc.

                1. The last decade has seen enormous gains from Artificial Intelligence. Deep learning now being applied to genetics, bio engineering, physics problems and most importantly, Porn.

                  We are on the cusp of colonizing earth orbit, and the moon.

                  Cell phones have so fundamentally changed how we live our day to day lives, that there are memes dedicated to how they would have ruined movies made 20 years ago.

                  The problem is that we often look back on history and see the rise of a new technology as this sudden event. However, they still took decades to roll out. Despite being invented in 1876, there were still houses post world war II that didn't have telephones. We don't see the massive change new technologies are giving us today, because we are living through the decades long transition in our lives. However, our great grand children will still look back at these times and wonder why they aren't getting any revolutionary changes, even as they take their flying car to the doctor to get their new bionic implants.

                  1. Yup. IMO the TYPES of technology we will be seeing in the coming decades will more fundamentally change human life than anything that came before.

                    Machines increasing productivity of making stuff? Super useful! Machines replacing human cognition... That's REALLY transformative.

                    Honestly, I don't think I LIKE the way many things are likely to change in the future... It will be better in some ways, but so much less HUMAN and real... I'm definitely not a Luddite, but stuff is gonna get reeeal crazy in the next couple decades.

      2. Genetic drift measures the average of the population and its distribution. But a larger population will always have many more individuals with very high and very low IQs or whatever you measure. So your conclusion that a smaller population would have more geniuses is wrong.

        Just ask yourself this: Is it more likely to find one red-haired person in NYC or in Piqua, OH? Clearly with more people from which to choose you will get a better chance of finding one of whatever you are looking for, averages notwithstanding.

        1. Exactly. It's very similar to the notion of statistical significance. In larger populations, you get a more accurately defined average and you can find more significant correlations than in a small population where you simply don't know if what you find is meaningful or the result of random variation. But you get more absolute variation in the larger population in the long tail. it's just that the numbers allow you to see past the randomness.

        2. "So your conclusion that a smaller population would have more geniuses is wrong."

          I didn't say it would have more geniuses. I said that the difference between the highest and lowest on the scale would be greater over time.

          And actually, I didn't say it and Freeman Dyson didn't discover it.


          P.S. We're talking about the means by which the average improves. A guy at the top end of the scale is born in San Diego. How long does it take his genes to improve the genetic average in a population of 350 million people? A guy at the top end of the scale is born in the Amazon. How long does it take for his genes to improve a population of 350 tribe members? When we're no longer subject to the scaling law of genetic drift, the consequences of that are likely to be profound.

          1. Some awful people might suggest that there's an adaptive case to be made for cultural stupidities that isolate populations from intermingling with each other to be found there--if the smaller the group that's intermingling, the faster and higher the rate of improvement. Even IF IF IF that were the case, genetic editing would be the solution to that problem, too, and the source of that thinking--even if it were adaptive--would still be stupid.

            Taboos are also adaptive. That doesn't make throwing virgins into the volcano a smart thing to do.

      3. "A smarter population might have avoided the biggest mistakes of the 20th century."

        That's a bit of a tautology. Avoiding those mistakes could be taken as evidence of 'smarter,' but at what costs?

        I'm thinking about this from a failure analysis standpoint - in most any complex system the more you do to prevent problems or failures the more likely it becomes that any eventual failure - when it occurs - will be catastrophic.

        1. Hitler and Goering thought their propaganda efforts within Germany were extremely important, and I can't help but wonder whether people who were less susceptible to propaganda might have been less supportive. Would smarter people during the Wiemar Republic have avoided some of the same stupid mistakes? The French invading the Rhineland and forcing German miners to dig coal for them at gunpoint for reparations--after the Wiemar Republic elected to pay them with worthless marks--that was a big mistake! Imposing such harsh reparations on the Germans was a big mistake.

          We haven't even started talking about communism, support for the Bolsheviks, etc.

          Average people supported a lot of things that turned out to be mistakes, and if the advantage of a higher average intelligence doesn't come with at least a side dish of avoiding mistakes, then what's the advantage?

          1. I think the problem here is that susceptibility to stupid ideas doesn't seem to correlate to intelligence as we understand it. The "smartest men in the room" in Germany and the U.S. were all emphasizing the need for forced eugenics and all sorts of ideas we now consider morally repugnant. Had we been able to select for smarter people then, how do we know that we wouldn't have ended up with more people following the intellectual fads to their horrific conclusions.

            As they say, hindsight is 20/20, but experts are notoriously horrible at predicting the future, and they are the ones who are supposedly smart.

            I have a PhD, but the thought of most of those who went through programs with me would tell me that the future of a smarter population happens to look exactly like the progressive agenda, something I don't accept.

            1. The fallacy is that simply having a degree makes you the smartest person in the room.

              1. Absolutely a fallacy, but it points out the problem is that we don't actually know what intelligence would lead us to avoid the mistakes of the past, and if we use proxies we can handle, we are very likely to choose wrong, potentially with disastrous results, because we have the same basic knowledge horizon that Ken thinks we are going to get past.

                If today we start selecting for intelligence, what happens if what we are selecting for doesn't accomplish what we want? I'm not talking about selecting against low IQs, but Ken's plan here requires a degree of certainty we simply don't have. We don't know how to find or engineer the people who would make whatever revolutions Ken thinks aren't happening.

                1. The best wood worker I know was pretty much dumb as a brick. But he had spent 40 years experimenting and learning different techniques for his craft, and could easily have been called a master craftsman. He trained me and several others and those techniques have largely been passed on to others. I have read about small villages around the world, where people have cobbled together old auto parts and other recycled materials to provide water, food, and other basic necessities.

                  Sometimes discoveries are made through intelligent decisions. Other times it is just practice and perseverance. Still other times it is just lucky chance (c.f. the microwave).

                  6 billion people each trying and honing ideas will always be more effective at solving problems than even 1 Million super intelligent people (if, as you say, we could really identify the markers of intelligence). The less we get wrapped up in the idea of targeting smart people to the world's problems, the better we will be. That isn't to say that individually, we shouldn't be interested in smart capable people providing us services- just to say that the strategy isn't applicable at a grand scale.

            2. Well, the thing is "smart" people DO make better decisions on MOST things. If the average IQ were higher, we would probably not have a national debt, because intelligent people understand numbers better, tend to be more responsible, think longer term, etc.

              You're mistaking MORALITY for intelligence.

              The truth is society WOULD have been better off with massive forced eugenics programs. 110% GUARANTEED. The question isn't the efficacy, but the morality.

              For me it is obviously super, duper, UBER wrong to kill people for being "inferior" or whatever. Forced sterilization I would also say is morally wrong. Is it wrong to "nudge" people to choose to self sterilize though? Like say offer people with below 85 IQs a lump of cash to get sterilized, because that will save tax payers more money than them having kids, while also improving the low IQ persons life, AND improving the average?

              An interesting question, right? People who say eugenics "doesn't work" have clearly never looked at any studies. Almost EVERYTHING is heritable. It works. It's just a question of morals.

          2. and if the advantage of a higher average intelligence doesn't come with at least a side dish of avoiding mistakes, then what's the advantage?"

            I do not disagree, so much as question where 'advantage' can be obtained.

            Intelligence, I would argue, isn't so much evidenced by avoiding mistakes. That is prescience, which - arguably - could be a very narrow subset. I tend to think that intelligence is more broadly a matter of learning from your experiences, including the (inevitable) mistakes.

            So, in that sense, while we can point to an manner of actual past horrors and wish they had never came to pass, what we largely cannot know is what those experiences have led us to prevent or avoid. Hot grease splattering your hand being preferable to pouring a full pan down the front of your slacks, and Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki teaching us something analogous.

          3. I can't help but wonder whether people who were less susceptible to propaganda might have been less supportive.

            I know it's a oft-repeated libertarian myth, but being smart (which libertarians often assume they are) doesn't actually make you less susceptible to propaganda. It just means you're better at post hoc reasoning to justify your propaganda-biased beliefs.

            1. Surely, libertarians are, at least, less susceptible to appeals to authority--even if only by temperament!

              1. Not in a meaningful sense.

                There might be different authorities that are respected, but if you appeal to the right ones then it's just as effective because the brain heuristic it invokes is still present in libertarians.

                Or to put it another way... the fact that saying "the pope says X" doesn't work as well on atheists as Catholics doesn't mean the "appeal to authority" doesn't work on atheists, just that they don't respect that authority.

            2. " It just means you're better at post hoc reasoning to justify your propaganda-biased beliefs."

              If so then IQ score would be obtained by giving you a test, telling you how you performed on the test, and then judging the merits of your excuses.

              1. If so then IQ score would be obtained by giving you a test, telling you how you performed on the test, and then judging the merits of your excuses.

                Consider SAT scores and IQ scores. It shouldn't surprise you that there's a strong correlation between the two... people that do really well in one tend to do really well in the other.

                That doesn't mean it's appropriate to try to extrapolate an IQ score from the SAT, or vice-versa.

                In the same way, while there would be correlation (at least on the high-end) between the ability to post hoc rationalize and the IQ result, trying to measure a "score" out of an essay response is always difficult, and it's just not going to be worthwhile to predict the IQ score based on the essay response.

                Or to put it another way... just because I can guess your weight based on your height (and beat random chance), doesn't mean it's the best way to get your weight.

  8. Eugenics!

    Bailey and the Lefties at Reason cannot wait to get their master race. Programmed at birth to never Trump!

    1. You assume that higher IQ will rule out voting for Trump. You assume correctly!

      1. Oh poor troll. Never Trump has mutated into fighting anything he wants to do, even when it clearly helps Americans and America.

    2. Eugenics IS NOT a bad thing guys. It is only a bad thing if practiced in immoral ways.

      Also, high IQ does not preclude voting for Trump... Keep in mind Trump WON the higher income brackets, which is a very good proxy for intelligence at the statistical level. I voted for GayJay last time, but I'm going to vote for Trump in 2020, and I have a considerably above average IQ.

      1. Eugenics is not bad per se. Especially when its done by normal processes like choosing sexual partners and other market decisions.

        Eugenics got a bad rap from Progressives who used it to control the masses. In particular, the National Socialists who used it to create the Master Race.

        1. Yeah, it was the way they went about it. As I said elsewhere, killing people to get it done is definitely bad. Forced sterilizing is also bad.

          But bribery based sterilization? I dunno. If somebody chooses to do it, IS that bad? It might be kinda mean to say "You're so stupid, you shouldn't have kids. Here's $25,000 to get your tubes tied!" but I don't know that it's immoral.

          I mostly just hate people who say it DOESN'T WORK. Because that is patently FALSE. Humans breed just like any other animal. To pretend otherwise, against ALL the data, is preposterous.

      2. It's not bad per se.. just bad every time humans have actually tried.

        1. Not really.

          The nobility in many nations essentially practiced eugenics in their breeding practices. It didn't do anybody any harm, except the peasants who didn't get to breed with the smarter/better looking folks. ROYALS went overboard with the inbreeding, but regular nobles didn't have this problem usually, and got good results.

          I saw a study some years ago that showed that the average IQ of the Brahmin caste in India was something like 120 IIRC. That's more than 30 points above the Indian average.

          I also saw a reference to a study the UK government did in the 1970s. They looked at the IQs of people by class, including a separate category for those in the nobility with titles (vs just making a high income). They wanted to prove everybody was the same!

          Once the results came back, and were BRUTAL, they didn't publish at the time, but some snippets of the research came out in the 90s or something. Income associated stuff was of course higher for those that made more money, as is known. It got even worse for nobles. The average IQ of a titled British noble was mid 120s IIRC. In other words THEY ARE better ON AVERAGE.

          These results should NOT surprise people. It makes perfect, logical sense from all the things we know about heredity. They're just things people don't LIKE to admit.

          Assortive mating was very low in the US... Until recently. Now it's picked up a ton, and in effect we are re-breeding a hereditary aristocracy through our breeding choices.

  9. If you want to see this really hit the fan, suggest that congenitally deaf parents might use it to select for children who might be hearing. You'll be accused of genocide. Few groups are as stridently militant as the deaf community.

    But let's flip it around. What if those deaf parents wanted to use these same mechanisms to ensure that their children would be born deaf (something that some would probably do). How would libertarians feel about deliberately handicapping children (a description that deaf activists would disagree with)?

    1. Curt Cobain admired suicidal thinking, and did the dirty deed himself.

      Would it be OK for a Curt Cobain-type fella to want to select a suicidally-inclined baby? That's reproductive freedom, right? And it increases diversity (for as long as the offspring hasn't yet committed suicide), right?

      I don't like that kind of crap one tiny bit, but as long as these idiots pay for all their own special treatments and therapies, then OK... But we all know that "society" will pay the prices, via taxation and inflation as usual!

    2. That's much like the abortion issue. There are valid libertarian arguments on both sides. There is also a clear difference in the libertarian mind between what is legal and what is moral. I happen to believe, for instance, that elective abortion is immoral but that enforcement in a libertarian way is probably impossible.

      I see a similar situation in the dilemma you're describing. There are two separate libertarian arguments happening that will inform each other--one over the question of whether that is moral from a libertarian perspective and one over the question of how to enforce a law prohibiting it in a libertarian way.

      It may be that preventing people from selecting for deafness is easier to do than enforcing a law against abortion--and thus that position would predominate. Forcing women to carry unwanted babies to term against their will would seem to require more in the way of an authoritarian state to my eye, but prohibiting clinics from letting people select for physical handicaps may be as simple as threatening people's licensing or opening the clinic's operators up to civil liability when the child comes back and sues the clinic for making him deaf.

      1. Good points Ken!

        To those people (I have met plenty) who want to outlaw all that is "bad" or immoral, I point to divorce. Ideally all married folks would "just get along", and there'd be no divorces. Divorces are bad for children as well.

        In the old-old days, divorces were near-impossible to get, and flat-out outlawed in some nations. To the outlaw-everything -bad crowd I say, "Do you want to go back to outlawing divorce"?

        1. Cheating on your spouse and lying about it is immoral.

          Who thinks people should be thrown in jail for adultery?

          1. To the extent that jail may be an appropriate response to particular sorts of contractual violations, I do.

            But, in general I'd prefer multiple other sorts of remedies be tried first, second, third,etc..

            1. Violation of a contract should involve restitution, not incarceration.

              1. What if the contract stipulated incarceration, because it was a contract about some VERY serious matter?

                I'm paying to $500K a year to protect my children, and if they get kidnapped and murdered, you will serve 5 years in this private prison?

                I don't care much one way or another, just playing devil's advocate.

                1. "What if the contract stipulated incarceration"

                  What are laws if not universal contract stipulations?

              2. "Violation of a contract should involve restitution, not incarceration."

                In general yes. But not always, nor when the violator refuses to pay up. As I noted incarceration for adultery really should be way down on the list, but I can think of many other sanctions in between cash and a cell that could be applied.

                I think restricting an adulterers ability to enter into future marital contracts, perhaps for a specified period of time, might be beneficial. If only to keep him/her from further clogging up the courts with his/her nonsense.

      2. I may disagree with you above, but this is a good answer to the question here.

      3. I think you're totally right here Ken. Immoral and illegal SHOULD be different things in most instances.

        With something like this though, it does get to be rather sick.

        Being def sucks. It's a MAJOR handicap. So would selecting for a suicidal personality.

        But what about a def, suicidal, downs syndrome baby, with no legs or arms... Did I forget to mention it's Siamese twins? Also they threw in some random congenital heart issues so it will almost certainly die before it hits 25, and will be in pain every day of its life!

        Now THAT'S a designer baby!

        Stuff like that starts to get so friggin' sick, I really don't even know... That kind of shit is so twisted, I just don't even know if it should be legal. Since I'm not a purist libertarian, I think it is OKAY to break strict NAP stances in SOME instances. One could even argue that IS violating the NAP, because of the aggression against the unborn child. But even if it's cool NAP wise, why not just have a reasonable list of shitty things you CANNOT select for?

        It certainly gets weird since there are some true lunatics in the world.

        1. We should probably expect that deaf parents' predilection for genetically engineering deaf children wouldn't survive for many generations--as fewer and fewer babies are born deaf because of genetic engineering. If the only deaf people out there after five generations that are still congenitally deaf are the children of parents who chose to make them that way, we're probably talking about an extremely rare occurrence after, say, five generations.

          1. Most likely!

            It's still kind of whack in the inbetween though... On the up side, we will probably be so advanced we could just restore hearing to their kids if they want it once they're adults!

    3. What?

      1. He said what if you have dead rodents.

        1. OK (In sign language).

  10. "Low intelligence is not a disease, but to require parents to preserve it in the age of polygenic selection solely for the sake of diversity is to force them to accept a trait that generally makes life more difficult for those who have it."

    My grandparents were very smart people, but they did not invent the airplane or discover penicillin themselves. They benefited from someone else's discovery of antibiotics, and they flew across the Pacific Ocean on airplanes that were invented by other people. Moral of the story, we're all likely to benefit from the discoveries made by people smarter than ourselves. It shouldn't take a libertarian to understand that the question isn't whether Edison or Tesla got rich on generating electricity so much as the rest of us lesser minds benefit from the use electricity.

    1. Yeah. People who argue against it being a good thing are insane.

      The reality is that normal intelligence people, and especially below average intelligence people, are largely just cogs in the machine. They may be nice people, and if they have a flair for something can bring plenty of good into the world... But they really have never moved humanity forward at all. That's 95% smart people.

      The other 5% is people with normal general intelligence, but an idiot savant for something... Like being a brilliant musician, painter, etc. Then there's the random Henry Ford in there, who was famously NOT very bright, but had a hell of a lot of common sense, and good mechanical aptitude.

  11. From the article...

    "If we consider inclusion and diversity to be a measure of societal progress, then IQ screening proposals are unethical."

    By that reasoning, increased safety in the designs of cars and highways is unethical, because less diversity, because fewer cripples!

    1. "By that reasoning, increased safety in the designs of cars and highways is unethical, because less diversity, because fewer cripples!"

      "Danger, Thin Ice" signs are not made to protect the intelligent.

    2. The way things are going, smart people appear to be a true minority.

      1. Feature not a bug. "We can't let parents select for higher intelligence in their children, the less intelligent people are the easier they are to control in mass." - Department of Central Planning.

      2. Feature not a bug. "We can't let parents select for higher intelligence in their children, the less intelligent people are the easier they are to control in mass." - Department of Central Planning.

        1. Damn Central Planning Squirrels.

      3. Better nutrition and such may have helped offset it a bit (Flynn Effect), but society has been selecting for lower intelligence for several generations now. It's all very clear in statistics. Maybe it's all finally catching up with us!

        1. Yes, the socialists want to tax the rich to the point that the rich have a hard time supporting their own kids at a reasonably rich standard of living... So the rich have less kids. And they pay to the poor to support the poor making more babies!

          But this all supposes that the rich are rich because they're smarter-better-faster, more creative, etc., genetically, which I bet is partly true. But some people are rich because they are greedy and unethical... White-collar thieves and political sluts who make money by sucking dick in Washington, DC, etc., and supporting too many licenses and regulations. Welfare? Blame the left. Licenses and regulations? Blame both sides!

          But now a lot of Republicans at the state level have been supporting laws that say you can abort normal unborn offspring, but not the abnormal (defective) ones! Moral grandstanding which is clearly dysgenic here, and the left shares NO blame for THAT one!

          1. Yup. Shit, I probably would have bothered to pop out some babies by now if my taxes had been lower. I make solid money, but have lived in an expensive area... Taxes have DEFINITELY held me back from being far more financially secure than I would like to be. So I haven't even bothered to find a woman worth knocking up yet.

            It's a messed up thing that the smart and responsible are exactly the ones who won't breed when they don't have the funds to do it responsibly... And the idiots will.

            There are shiesty people to be sure... But most people get there by merit. The IQ to income correlations show that in the overwhelming majority of cases smart people are the successful ones... The shitty ones are probably ALSO smart ones too!

            The whole world is a mess. And most of it is because we can't have an honest conversation about subjects like this. It's so sad that the world is going to shit because people are too touchy to talk about serious issues, just because they're not EASY issues.

  12. It's like nobody ever actually reads Prometheus Unbound.

    Sure, we will select for the things we know, thinking that it will be 'better.' Nature will then show us a lot of things we didn't know. That's how hubris brings nemesis.

    This is practically inevitable. Which is an argument against any attempts to restrict it. The better argument against trying to stop it is that it isn't our business to decide for others.

    1. Exactly. TOP MEN think they are so smart, yet are proven wrong over and over and over.

      The search for solving life's mysteries is a worthwhile endeavor and has clearly benefited humankind. Where we get into trouble is allowing government to "decide" what is allowed and what is not based on what bureaucrats want.

      Is it a good idea for parents to choose "smart" embryos? Let the market decide. The parents who chose "smart" embryos incorrectly will be responsible for their actions....of course.

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  14. What is morally suspect is creating more embryos than you want to use. Also, the idea that doctors can tell you if one kid has a better chance of completing college than another is such scientific wild ass guesswork to the point of being witchcraft. It has no place in making a decision of which child gets to have a life.

    1. Well, intelligence is a good proxy for the likelihood somebody will go to college... They've already identified the first few thousand genes that correlate with intelligence, and will likely nail down many more going forward. If they get to the point of being able to say "This one has a 145-152 IQ" with 100% accuracy, that's a hell of a thing. That's ALMOST Einstein smart versus an 85 IQ kid that's going to be sweeping floors for life...

  15. OT

    John Miska, a Lynchburg man arrested in Charlottesville for bringing a baby stroller, Arizona Iced Tea, razors, and hair spray to a public space, sues city, alleging violation of the 4th Amendment.

    His contention is that the ban on these items was overly broad and that the police were prejudicially selective about who they arrested for possessing them.

    1. Baby strollers & Ariz. iced tea were banned in public?! Razors & hair spray I could see, but there's got to be more to this story.

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  17. Lynn Murray, spokesperson for the Down syndrome support group Don't Screen Us Out, said, "If we consider inclusion and diversity to be a measure of societal progress, then IQ screening proposals are unethical."

    See, if we'd had IQ screening, then maybe we wouldn't have stupid people like this one.

    Inclusion & diversity are good things as regards defective persons who already exist. It's not good to make more of them.

  18. Back up a second...

    "Let's say you're a fertility doctor advising would-be parents who have exactly two viable embryos ready for implantation. The parents want to implant only one embryo."

    This whole debate seems to presuppose you get to create, then kill, "excess" embryos.

    1. Yes, Bailey is presuming that that is moral to begin with, which is audacious but dishonest intellectual base stealing. Then positing that rank speculation by geneticists on the intellectual potential of the child is a good enough basis for choosing which ones to cull.

      1. Look... We ain't there yet... But give it 10 years. We already know A LOT from studies that have been done.

        In 10-20 years they'll probably be able to kick you out the height, weight, IQ, hair/eye color, skin tone, within a few percent error margin, AND give you a rough picture of what their adult face will look like. We can ALREADY do that from genes, the error ratios are just a lot higher.

        So just because we're not there yet, doesn't mean we won't be. Whether or not it is moral to make and kill embryos is a whole different argument, but one I think will be towards the bottom of the list people will be worried about in this context.

        1. I fully expect that this is an overpromising by those holding to the scientism faith and those kind of traits are not clear cut to make judgements on other than from loose statistical approximations. Which is a hell of a thing to prejudge someone on.

        2. I fully expect that this is an overpromising by those holding to the scientism faith and those kind of traits are not clear cut to make judgements on other than from loose statistical approximations. Which is a hell of a thing to prejudge someone on.

          1. Well, there are already 2 studies that have been linking genes to IQ.

            One from England IIRC only nailed a few hundred. Then I think it was a Chinese study that got a couple thousand IIRC. They estimate it is enough to predict around 3 IQ points with those genes. 10 fold that, and you're within an area where it becomes VERY useful. That's the difference between a guaranteed janitor or other low end laborer, and a decent (but not excellent) doctor/lawyer/etc.

            We're already even better on some of the physical traits.

            The truth is we don't even have to know what these genes DO, we just have to know they do SOMETHING for it to be useful.

            I know science is flawed. I'm not a religious zealot with my science... But there is a LOT we will likely be able to do. Morals should come into play, and as long as we're not doing wicked stuff, which I don't think improving humanity is... I don't think we should try to stop it. Not that it could be stopped anyway.

    2. You do, Eddy.

      Though that will only be for a bit.

      When the tech gets better, you'll be nicking a cell from a blastocyst--something that will have all the DNA you'll want to look at, but won't be an embryo yet.

      And when the tech gets even better you'll be able to put a designed sperm and a designed egg together and get a designed baby. Who will have no 'bad' genes to pass on.

  19. Whether or not we allow this in the US won't matter. It will be allowed somewhere in the world. Whatever nation allows it will have a significant advantage immediately, and that advantage will grow over time. That will force other countries to follow suit or fall behind. In time it will be allowed everywhere.

    1. A Eugenics Gap, as it were?

    2. Oh yeah. Most of the world will have ZERO problem with this.

      If I haven't had kids by the time this is on the market, I'd probably travel to another country to have it done for my offspring.

      In a way it is very cruel to NOT do this when it is possible. Could you imagine having to explain to your 16 year old son that the reason he's shorter, weaker, less attractive, less intelligent, and will die younger than his peers in school is because you decided it was "moral" to make him inferior? This is a moral argument that will flair like nobodies business when it really hits the mainstream... And then it will become so normalized nobody even considers it anymore.

      1. Maybe, it would be better to explain to your kid that he would not be that genetically superior specimen. That if you had gone for that he would have ended up in the biological waste bin.

        1. The truth is, I don't think they'll care. They'll still be stuck being alive for 80 or 100 years being surrounded by people that are better than them in every way... Hell, living in such a world may induce one to kill them self. It's hard to know I guess.

          Personally, I don't think I would mind having ended up in the dumpster... If it meant somebody even better had come into existence. And I don't even have any real problems. I'm average or above average in almost all ways, except I'm a couple inches below average height. But not so short it's a HUGE deal where most chicks are taller than me or anything. So I have little to complain about as is, and I still wouldn't take personal offense to it.

          I guess we'll find out how people react, because there will certainly be a transition period for this stuff when it comes in super expensive, and then rolls out to more and more people.

          1. Personally, I don't think I would mind having ended up in the dumpster...

            Because you would never have existed to think anything.

            1. Exactly.

              So while I understand this moral line of thinking... I just don't care that much. Many babies through no fault of anybody end up in miscarriage. Or what of all the potential babies lost from pulling out or using a condom?

              To me this is not MUCH different from those situations.

      2. Sometimes the most beautiful and smart people are born simply because the two genetic samples combine in fantastic ways.

        Sometimes humans think they are so smart and fuck up a great thing-Natural Selection.

        1. That's true. But there are also tons of mistakes. A world with no fat people, or midgets, or legless people, or whatever would have less diversity as these people say... But is that the kind of diversity we need?

          I don't think chosen embryos will be any less awesome than ones that came together naturally, since chosen embryos are just choosing which naturally made baby you want...

          It's basically just making it a sure thing, instead of a crap shoot.

          1. Funny thing about "sure things" and humans. Rarely works out that way.

            We plan cities and roads, yet we still have traffic and crime.

            Some Chaos is just a factor inherent to humans.

            To factor out chaos is a fools errands.

            1. Oh, for sure. These people won't be perfect little angels or anything.

              They'll just be smarter on average, and a little better looking on average.

              The funny thing is, in a world like that we will STILL make distinctions.

              A guy with a 145 IQ will be considered "an idiot" because the average is 160, and the smart ones are 175! Likewise with looks. If everybody is an 8-10 in looks, being a flat 8 will be hideous, 9 will be meh!

              I NEVER expect utopia from ANYTHING we do. But I don't see any downsides to something like this either.

      3. You write as if it would actually be the same kid who would be taller and smarter if you had killed the short, dumb one.

        Are YOU the dumb one?

        1. That's how kids think? Of course it wouldn't ACTUALLY be the same one... Unless we're talking abour crisper instead of embryo selection. THEN it could be the same egg/sperm, just "error corrected" for some of its flaws.

          Does that make it more or less moral in your opinion?

          FYI, I'm somebody who doesn't LIKE abortion, but doesn't think it should be illegal... But isn't completely horrified by it either. So I don't have a huge problem with embryo selection itself from a moral perspective. I'm not religious, and think the gains made would be pretty amazing for humanity, so even if it's a little messed up, it would be worth it.

    3. Nazi Germany allowed it, so I see a major hole in your theory.

      1. We were doing it in the USA, and most of the rest of Europe too. We just didn't like their EXTRA hardcore version.

        It would be likely different countries might set different limitations on what they deem acceptable. Kind of like current abortion laws. A few countries outright ban them. Others have very strict rules, but allow some forms. Others are a lot more loose.

        This seems a likely outcome for this kind of stuff.

      2. Nazi Germany pioneered high-class superhighways, so we'd better tear down ours!

        Nazi Germany was in favor of humans breathing oxygen (most of us humans at least, I guess), so we'd better stop that too!

  20. >>>It would be deeply immoral to require parents to select for particular traits, but it is also wrong to deny them the chance to make life easier for their children.

    not certain life is easy even for those who you think it would be

  21. So a few things. I have always been very angry when people say eugenics doesn't work... Because it very much does. We know that almost all traits are heritable. The question was always the HOW, and the morality of the HOW to achieve eugenics.

    For the most part, this takes away most of the "bad" parts that even the nicest systems might have been able to employ in the past. This now enables 2 very genetically bad parents to have kids that are well above average... Either through LOTS of embryos, or simply crisper being employed to "fix" the flaws in their kids, while leaving all of the rest of their parents okay traits in.

    Funny thing is this is what I have always said is THE ONLY way anything remotely approaching "true equality" could be achieved. Because naturally, some people are just superior to others. This would finally level the playing field. Leftists ought to love that!

    Frankly I love it too. It is very sad that super low IQ people exist... Because they're simply not smart enough to do much with themselves, because they're just not capable of it... And this means they're doomed to living a life of poverty relative to people of higher intelligence.

    If everybody is smart, everybody is at least capable of doing more with themselves. Not all will, but at least they had a shot. Also, imagine how well intelligent people will do whatever mundane jobs still exist... Far more competently than the people that do them now.

    1. This may finally end global disparities as well, since like it or not for SOME reason IQs vary widely around the world. PC scientists say it's purely environmental... But most evidence points to IQ being 50-80% heritable, with 60-70% being the most common results. Either way, this shit could fix the problem.

      A weird thing I've heard discussed too with designer babies, other than some of the weird issues already discussed above about intentionally giving them "bad" traits like deafness, is some of the weird stuff that would pop up.

      For instance, lighter skin, hair, and eyes are considered more attractive by basically all ethnic groups around the world.

      So one could end up with WEIRD combos that never or only rarely happen naturally. Think Chinese people who perhaps have the same eyes/facial structure, on the extra pale side for Chinese skin, but have naturally green eyes and blonde hair. Indians or blacks may choose to dramatically lighten their skin tones, or change facial features some even. Stuff like that would likely be VERY common.

      1. That's not even to mention shit like naturally BLUE hair, red eyes, or exotic things that don't naturally occur in people, but will probably be easy to figure out. ACTUAL red skin anybody? How about tiger stripes? Shit could get real nuts with the nut jobs in the world.

        Although shit could get really weird once you get into stuff like that... Overall this will be a GREAT thing for the world. Nobody should have to suffer being dramatically inferior in any way. It's not nice for that person, and it's not good for the world either. A world filled with smart, healthy, pretty people WILL be a better world.

        The only reason I can think of for not raising intelligence is if we discover there is a direct trade off with bumping IQ up which lowers some other highly desirable trait. But I don't see that happening, as plenty of ultra smart people are totally awesome in any and all other ways I can think of.

        If we don't end up becoming cyborgs first, this 110% WILL happen.

        1. Sometimes what we think we know is knocked down a peg by things that we don't know.

          1. All true. We could find there are a lot of weird interrelated things and it takes us an extra decade or 2 to detangle it all to know what we're doing. Time will tell!

      2. This may finally end global disparities as well [...]

        Only if we go socialist with the tech and provide it to folks who don't "earn" it.

        If we do that, and make cheap gene-editing available to basically everyone regardless of economic prosperity, then sure. If we don't, then we're more likely to be moving towards a "Gattaca" scenario of where the disparity between the "homo superior" haves and the "homo sapiens" have-nots grows with each generation.

        1. Well, it will probably filter down if nothing else.

          Africans don't have the latest iPhone right now... But they have a couple generations back iPhones, or equivalent Androids now in most of Africa.

          Rich nations may get this stuff years earlier en masse, but it will reach them eventually.

          I also think many people would voluntarily support charities to help out poor places. Hell, I might even do that. I am totally against hand outs... But to me, this is a "teach a man to fish" type of thing. It would be enabling those places to take care of themselves, not becoming dependent.

      3. I'd be surprised if there weren't some purely genetically based difference in IQ among different human populations. That said, 60-70% genetically determined leaves a lot of room for environmental effects.

        1. Yeah. The whole idea that we have TONS of known biological differences physically between different groups, INCLUDING within "races" as the term is generally used... But claiming there are ZERO mental differences... It is completely contrary to evolutionary theory. AND all known facts on the subject. The only reason people hold this theory to be true is because it is not politically correct to say otherwise.

          I've read a lot on this subject, probably for going on 20 years now. I think the 60-70% figure is rock solid. I think it may actually be higher than that, as I have never seen a study that included grandparents IQs in to track heredity beyond the parents. I bet it would rise higher if one did.

          But even at 30-40% environmental, one has to realize that effectively means that the gaps we observe are more or less permanent... Studies show most of the raising comes from very minimal basic needs being met, not starving or having major diseases as a child.

          1. If we assume whatever small gains are left to be made by little things are equally distributed in all groups, that means the gaps are crystalized where they are now... Unless a massive effort was made to give EVERY kid in a low IQ group EVERY advantage, while going out of our way to disadvantage high IQ groups. That ain't gonna happen.

            Gene editing is the only way to close the currently observed gaps.

            THAT SAID poor countries still haven't all seen the gains from the basics being met. So many 3rd world countries are probably in for a several point gain when this happens. But we already know what averages for these groups look like when living in 1st world countries, so that's a reasonable cap for where they'll land. Africa may see 10-15 point rises depending on the country.

            It sucks that evolution didn't deal everybody an equal hand... But it is what it is. IQ gaps explain ALL racial disparities in outcomes the world over. There's a reason Korea become a 1st world country in a couple decades, and much of the rest of the world is still in abject poverty after 10x more money being thrown their way.

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  23. It is a complete strawman lie to suggest that people who recognize the immorality of killing living humans somehow oppose killing a "dumber" one less than killing a "smarter" one.

    If human life is created, it should ALL be protected by the principles of NAP.

  24. Pretty sure that the majority of opposition to such things is opposition to IVF/fertility-treatments and abortion in general (which the hardcore folk will say IVF requires, since not all embryos will be implanted).

    As such, arguing the morality of choosing "intelligence" isn't that effective, as it doesn't address the real concern... the morality of IVF to begin with.

    1. Yes. The morality of the criteria used to cull which embryos are not to be allowed to grow into an infant is a second order question relative to the morality of culling one's children in the first place.

  25. Second thought: In a world of Einsteins, who sweeps the floors?

    It's kind of a race between automation and gene-editing, isn't it?

    If widespread gene-editing becomes a thing before we make menial jobs obsolete, then you're necessarily going to be stuck with a generation of Einsteins who can't find Einstein-level work, and are stuck with unfulfilling jobs way below their abilities.

    If automation makes menial jobs obsolete before we have widespread gene-editing, then we're at an advanced scenario of our current one, where we have a whole mess of folks without relevant job skills to the jobs actually available, and no aptitude or ability to fix that.

    That said, gene-editing does need to become cheaply and widely available, such that even the couple on welfare can use it to try to ensure a "better future" for their kid, before this becomes more then a niche moral issue, and becomes a larger societal issue. Which is to say, it's fun to think about and write sci-fi stories around, but it's not one I think any of us should worry over as a practical matter.

    1. "...then you're necessarily going to be stuck with a generation of Einsteins who can't find Einstein-level work, and are stuck with unfulfilling jobs way below their abilities."

      New day, different flavor of same thing... Sad to say, we already face a version of this in today's society. Soooo many highly educated people, we have to dream up make-work for them!!!

      Too many lawyers? Invent more and more licenses and paperwork and permits and permissions to start a business or even scratch your ass!!! THAT will keep the lawyers busy!!! ("Help" you fill out the forms per the ten billion laws).

      Too many doctors? Require prescriptions for EVERYTHING!!! Like cheap plastic flutes!!!

      To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ ? This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

    2. Yeah these are concerns to a degree.

      One thing I like to think about though is this: Imagine how WONDERFUL a world would be where the guy taking your order at Burger King DOESN'T FUCK IT UP.

      Now, that particular job is basically already gone with current tech. But other similarly simple jobs won't be automated so soon. So it really wouldn't be THAT bad a thing. I have a high IQ, and I actually enjoy doing lots of mundane work with my hands. It is relaxing. I know many other smart people who feel the same. So it might not be that horrible.

      Also, the funny thing is we already kind of had this in the past. Before we had the excess productive capacity to allow so many people to do mental work, almost everybody had to toil away in manual labor jobs. That included the 115 IQ guy who would be an accountant now, and the 130 IQ guy who might be a doctor, and the 150 IQ guy who might be a leading physicist. They ALL planted food or were blacksmiths, with few exceptions.

      I'm more worried about implantable microchips in our brains... Genetically better humans I can handle... Cyborg shit creeps me out!

  26. Right. It makes you wonder what Rebublicans like Mitch McConnell are thinking.

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  27. Right. It makes you wonder what Rebublicans like Mitch McConnell are thinking.

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  28. I wonder what nuances and subtleties are being overlooked in the new human zeal for short-circuiting the evolution of the species. It's up to the would be parents to find out. Anything else is a clear violation of the NAP.

  29. Your argument has nothing to do with whether this practice is ethical or not. All you did was cite some research that suggests certain outcomes you personally consider positive are more likely when parents choose certain traits and outcomes you personally consider negative are more likely when those traits are left to chance.

    Are you developing some sort of ethical philosophy based on using statistical data to predict the chances of an indirectly related personally preferred outcome?

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  31. That's reproductive freedom, right? And it increases diversity for as long as the offspring hasn't yet committed suicide, is that right?

    1. yes, something like that

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