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SF meets reality!

This entry on MSN caught my eye – people now have the ability, with near 100% accuracy, of choosing the sex of their children. Personally this doesn’t bother me at all – I believe it was inevitable.

What surprised me was that this is banned in the UK (and potentially other places) on the grounds that it is morally troublesome. I don’t see it, but OK. The article then suggests this is a slippery slope towards choosing the eye color, hair color, and intelligence of your children. Now, I’m no geneticist (but I play one on TV), but I have a contact in the ultra high-end genetic companies who tells me that figuring out the genetic blueprint for something as complicated as intelligence may be 100 years away – or more. Let’s not jump off the deep end here.

Of course, why is it bad exactly to make sure our kids end up smart? How is this bad for mankind? And without getting too Darwinian here (in deference to our creationist readers) this might be looked at as an extension of natural selection even.

OK, all this though isn’t what prompted me to post. Here is a paraphrased quote from the article (emphasis is mine.)

‘Just last week the President’s Council on Bioethics discussed proposals for possible legislation that would ban the buying and selling of human embryos and far-out reproductive experimentation, like creating human-animal hybrids.’


Seriously – this not only made me laugh out loud, but also made me think. Is there something wrong with experimenting in creating hybrids? I guess I’ll also point out that human-animal hybrid is an oxymoron given that all humans are animals. But what would be so wrong with, say, a human/bird that has wings?

I could really use eagle sight, condor wings, a dog nose, and let’s throw in gorilla strength, just for fun. Damn, I’d be a fine looking specimen to with my elongated nose, full body hair, and huge wings. The ladies would flock to me! So to speak…

I seem to recall that genetic manipulation to mankinds benefit is an important part of the Culture novels from Iain M. Banks (who totally rocks, btw.) All I can see are benefits – besides the inevitable few ‘The Fly‘ mistakes. But such is the price of progress…

6 Comments on SF meets reality!

  1. This was the background of an old James Blish novel entitled AND ALL THE STARS A STAGE. Something called “Selectrogel” was invented which allowed parents to choose the gender of their children.

    90% of them chose male children, predictably.

    Because men were a glut on the market, so to speak, society evolved into a matriarchy.

  2. Would people pick male children predominately though in America today? I’m not so sure…

  3. Wow, there is some seriously cool stuff on your site Nyrath. I really like the link to the do-it-yourself astrolabe.

  4. The trends in China and India are pretty interesting. People are choosing to have male babies, when they can.

    It is predicted that this will give rise to a shift in marriage customs in 15 years or so in India. There will be so few woman vs. men that the parent’s of men will have to offer the doweries, not the parent’s of the woman, as is the current custom.

    There are a lot of books that explore this subject. For example, Greg Bear looks at it in “Darwin’s Radio” (although in this case, man does not trigger the event). Stephen Baxter explores it in “Manifold: Time”. Greg Bear touches on the subject again in books like “Queen of Angels” and “/” (i.e., “Slant”).

    One screamingly funny story that I just read was “And the Bough Breaks” by Lewis Padgett (one of the pseudonyms employed by the husband and wife writing team of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore). In a story that weirdly foreshadows “Terminator”, the first “X Free Superman” sends teachers back into the past to teach his younger self. He originally did not develop his “X-Free” powers until he was thirty, so he figures he’ll get a jump on things by training his infant self.

    However, by giving powers to a baby, you end up with an obnoxious baby with superpowers. What the parent’s do is pretty amusing…

  5. BTW, there’s a fairly exhaustive list of sf books about genetic engineering.

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