The topic of "super babies" (genetically evaluated and altered babies) has me thinking a lot about the future of the human race.
We are now capable of some really incredible things. My sister, a genecist, as a professor at Columbia University helped to identify a single gene responsible for blindness in a group of people. While there are some hiccups with CRSPR, we are approaching the moment when we can remove that gene. A man has given birth. Men can become women, and vice versa. We can take a human heart from a dead man and put it into a live one. People with AIDS--the great terror of my childhood--can now lead a pretty full life. We can sustain or cure some truly terrible diseases that until recently claimed billions of lives.
But maybe...in a sad and weird sort of way, I meant "incredible" in its original sense.
In the days before developed medicines for it, diabetes killed all its own severist cases, and limited its own numbers-- this meant that (because of death), life favored less diabetes. The percentage of the population with a life-threatening malfunction would theoretically hold steady, as genetic odds worked themselves out. The same could be said of influenza, osteoporosis, and brain tumors.
But what happens when scientists have the power to override a life threatening malfunction? If you have the power to save one more person....well, we should--shouldn't we? I feel like that is certainly the trend of society in general, and the trend--hell, maybe even the POINT of "medicine" as a concept.
And suppose that the medicine to fight a life-threatening malfunction is drastic and high-risk and expensive...do we still do it? And if we are paying those bills as a taxpayer, should we still do it? And if we knew that the medicated person with a genetically dominant, life-threatening malfunction would stay well enough, long enough to go on to produce three more children with this same condition...should we do it?
If I had influenza (and I did, and I've been hospitalized), I would surely say yes, I want to live. If my daughter needed an IV in her arm to get water and nutrients into her body (and she has), I would surely say yes, I want her to live. I can only imagine that anyone, in almost any position, would say "yes, save ME".
And I am so, SO glad we had Stephen Hawking. And we could get another couple decades with Michael J. Fox, and...and Magic Johnson. And my brother Josh, who has lived with MS for twenty years. I dearly love them. And they all could have been me. In a way, they are all me. I am them. They are part of my human experience.
But the vast culimantion of these "yes, save ME" decisions multiplied across the face of an entire planet...as the incidence rate of each of these is (now incredible power to preserve and promote and prolong) now capable of spiraling, multiplying by exponents..what