Future

Now That I'm Younger, I'm Thinking About Becoming a Father

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Before we got married way back in 2000, my wife and I decided we didn't want children. As a transhumanist, I would sometimes quip, "We'll have kids when we're younger." My nontranshumanist wife usually responded to this witticism with slightly exasperated eye rolling.

Now it's the 2050s and I'm about to celebrate my 100th birthday. Forty-some years ago, Harvard geneticist George Church predicted that researchers would be able to reverse aging in humans sometime in the early 2020s. That was a bit optimistic, but he wasn't too far off. As a result, millions of us survived into the modern era, in which rejuvenation researchers have achieved longevity "escape velocity": Life expectancy now increases by more than one year for every additional year of anti-aging research that's conducted.

Due to advances in anti-senescence and age reversal treatments, I'm now physically much younger—about age 30—and have the energy and focus to devote to rearing a child.

While my also-younger wife is still disinclined toward motherhood, she has recently agreed that it would be OK if I were to become a father. So I'm exploring the idea of becoming a monoparent. Happily, mid-21st century science makes this possible.

Reproductive technologies have evolved in much the way Stanford University bioethicist Henry Greely outlined back in 2016. In his book The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction, Greely foresaw that most people would use gametes derived from their skin cells to create scores of in vitro-fertilized embryos. He accurately predicted that by the 2050s and '60s, half of all American babies would be born through "easy pre-implantation genetic diagnosis," or Easy PGD.

Why are more people choosing Easy PGD in 2050? Because parents can choose among embryos based on a preferred combination of genetic traits. Among other things, you can avoid having children afflicted with debilitating genetic diseases. And because the gametes can be derived from one or two people's skin cells, you don't even need a conventional partner! That allows monoparental reproduction but also makes it feasible for same-sex couples to have offspring genetically related to both parents.

Easy PGD is distinct from cloning, in which unchanged cellular nuclei from a single parent are installed in enucleated eggs to produce embryos. Of course, we also have cloning now. The genomes of the parent and the cloned child essentially make them age-separated identical twins.

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm more comfortable with Easy PGD. Gametes created from my skin cells would be much like those created via the natural process of meiosis: Bits of my chromosomes undergo recombination such that when a skin cell is transformed into gametes, the set of chromosomes in each daughter cell contains a mixture of my genetic traits but not necessarily the same mixture as in the other daughter cells. In other words, unlike clones, monoparental children are not genetically identical to their mother or father.

Once my skin-cell gametes are combined to produce embryos, their whole genomes will be sequenced to see exactly what combination of genetic traits they carry. Each one will then be analyzed to generate polygenic risk scores. That process assesses multiple genetic variants that together are used to predict the embryo's chance of developing a disease, being taller than average, or doing well in school. Reproduction technicians can even feed the embryos' genome sequences into a phenotype reader that will generate a picture of how each one would likely look at age 18.

It's at this stage that my reproductionists and I would discuss how to use gene-editing to correct undesirable mutations and enhance the most promising embryos. I already know I carry gene variants that predispose me to conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and substance abuse. Although modern medical treatments keep these problems under control, it would be better if my future daughter, through gene tweaks, could avoid them altogether.

Although much progress has been made, ectogenesis—growing embryos in artificial wombs—is still not possible. Fortunately, gestational surrogacy is widely practiced and well-compensated. The old legal confusions have been resolved, and it is now universally agreed that the genetic parents are legally responsible for the rearing of children born to surrogates.

I have not completely made up my mind to pursue monoparenthood, but there's no particular hurry. Barring accidents, I'm likely to remain physically young and live many more decades yet.

NEXT: Brickbat: Upon Further Review ...

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  1. Will there be soma in 2050? A gram is better than a damn.

  2. Here’s hoping this is true. About a year ago, I decided I can’t die in the next few decades because I have too many books still to be read.

    1. Luckily for you, by 2050 all the books in the world will be downloadable into your brain-quantum-cpu hybrid.

      1. Or burned. There’s always that possibility.

    2. Oh you must be waiting for The Winds of Winter too.

  3. Well it sounds like the Church has lost all its power by 2050.

    1. Well theys shoulda paid the electric bill!

  4. Bailey is dabbling in dystopian fiction now?

    1. Nah. He’s describing the “honeymoon” phase, when everything is still new and shiny and everything is possible.

      The dystopian phase hits sometime after that, when the caste of immortals grows more and more distant from the merely-mortal humans, when the usual cycle of wealth accumulation and distribution to children is broken, when the reins of power are never relinquished to the next generation.

      But he’s not talking about that part. He’s just waxing future-nostalgic about how great the honeymoon will be.

  5. Missing data: What is the tax for creating another resource consumer in 2050?
    I assume that there would be a tax sufficient to cover the average cost of caring for this new consumer for it’s expected, overly long lifespan.
    Second missing data: when you eventually grow young enough to become a fetus again, who has the ‘my body’ right to abort you?

    1. The State retains that right throughout the whole ordeal. Subject to licensing to a competent vendor.

  6. You people and your fantasies to live longer.

    Why not just enjoy this time in “Hell” and die a glorious death?

    1. It is a good day to die.

  7. With everyone now a member of AARP, it must be pretty hard to vote any reforms into S.S. and Medicare?

  8. In truth when technology gets this advance the left will want to out law parents and sex. And just grow sexless sapience all the same color so that their will be no racism,sexism or classes of people. This is also the same thing that Hitler was trying to do when he had the grand plan of throwing all so called non Aryan’s in consternation camps. Buy hey the left does not see it that way. However if we can keep the utopians, socialist and other totalitarians at bay. We can have a great future if individuals are allowed to pursue it the way they want.

    1. Actually, once genetic engineering exists the world will be filled with paler skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed people… Because every ethnicity on earth finds those features the most attractive.

      I do think saaay Asians or blacks will retain touches of their original features, because they’ll feel too bad to just make their kids look like Swedes outright… So like all Asians will end up being super pale like the palest Japanese or Chinese are now, but with hair that is blonde, red, etc and blue, green eyes etc. Probably still Asian facial features though. Blacks might opt to make their kids all look like naturally blonde Beyonce types or whatever. Of course everybody will be tall and thin/muscular, with big knockers/schlongs.

      Evolution had its reasons for all the adaptions people have, but as far as beauty preferences go basically Europeans ended up winning that one overall. It’s gonna be a weird world man…

  9. Kids are fun, and troublesome. I have three. I don’t want any more.

    I certainly do not want to be a mono parent.

    I think the world would be a better place with fewer humans, not more.

    1. I think the world would be a better place with fewer humans, not more.

      It’s so strange to me that people who say this are always talking about someone else. Certainly you retain the right to bring three more people into reality, and you yourself aren’t about to take the initiative to checkout on everyone else’s behalf; it’s everyone else that really ought to stop ruining things.

    2. The world would be a better place overall with fewer people… The thing is there are structural reasons we don’t want the population to collapse TOO quickly. Life extension may well actually help with the rapid slide it looks like we’re going to end up with now, assuming it kicks in soon enough to tack on an extra decade or two of useful life for a good chunk of younger boomers/Gen-X etc.

      Who is breeding is also important… Idiocracy is indeed a thing, if genetic engineering of kids doesn’t come about. Unfortunately it ain’t there yet, and dumb people are far outbreeding the more intelligent.

  10. Yeah, this isn’t gonna happen.

    There is an expiration date on all people, and you reach it sooner or later.

    I don’t begrudge you the attempt to live longer though. I just plan on doing it the old-fashioned way, by taking care of my body (and being a crazed cyclist).

    …OK, that last part wasn’t too old-fashioned, but you get the idea.

  11. Sure, you don’t want kids but you expect to be able to use the energy giving blood of other people’s kids

  12. You aren’t getting younger Ron, you’re just getting healthier, spending more time looking after yourself, better diet, better medicine, etc. You’re living longer, but you’re not getting younger. Age will catch up to you.

    1. You aren’t getting younger Ron, you’re just getting healthier, spending more time looking after yourself, better diet, better medicine, etc. You’re living longer, but you’re not getting younger. Age will catch up to you.

      Yes. Younger people eat whatever they like, forego sleep, and run around like idiots. You don’t get to keep the discipline, the wisdom, the scars, and the muscle memory *and* get younger. Not to mention the (lack of) accumulated wealth that, increasingly, has little to do with biology.

      He’s wishing for or describing some disgusting manner of puritanical man-child who’s perpetually at the pinnacle of his strength but never uses it and who has physical and chronological resources to spare but asks his partner for permission before doing anything so cavalier as “mono”Parenting.

      1. I like Ron for the most part… But cucks gon’ cuck!

  13. There’s no way the National Health Service is going to pay for all this. In fact, they’ll be encouraging people to die sooner.

  14. Now it’s the 2050s and I’m about to celebrate my 100th birthday. … As a result, millions of us survived into the modern era, in which rejuvenation researchers have achieved longevity “escape velocity”: Life expectancy now increases by more than one year for every additional year of anti-aging research that’s conducted.

    Wow, so a planet projected to have 10B people on it now only has “millions” or did “millions” just diverge into a near-immortal über race and no longer consider the sub-race human?

    If you just discount the undesirable half of humanity that does you the disservice of dying, getting killed, or getting executed young, you can easily outpace chronological time with life expectancy right now. Ban cars, shoot all dissenters, obliterate them from the statistics.

    Otherwise, to raise the life expectancy of 10B humans in some manner of sustainable ‘escape velocity’ fashion, you’re going to need (assuming no crystal balls or magic wands) hundreds of millions of humans working tirelessly to prevent all manner of calamity, biologically or otherwise, induced… assuming we stick with “biology”.

  15. This is the kind of content I come here for.

  16. We’re all dead in 11 years and 9 months so this will never happen, denier.

  17. I have followed transhumanist stuff for a long time… And the crazy thing is, it is entirely possible something like 2050 might not be too far off.

    Thing is I would be STOKED about eternal biological life, with genetically engineered to be superior babies… The problem for me is that cyborg type shit seems to be almost unavoidable too… Robot arm? Sweet! Computer tie in directly to the brain… Now shit is getting weird.

    I don’t have much say so in how it all goes down, so I’ll just be keeping an eye on it all as it happens… I do rather hope AI and brain tied in computers happen A LOT later than biological improvements, or indeed prove impossible at all. I like the idea of better humans vs truly transhuman stuff.

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