On the Improvement of the Populationon June 28, 2008 at 7:31 am
Two related stories, Slashdot‘s “Where To Draw the Line With Embryo Selection?” and Scientific Blogging‘s “Analyzing The Homicide Trend In Young Men” together evoke questions about the future of eugenics (improvement in the genetics of a population) and dysgenics (degradation of the genetics of a population) in the future.
Clearly we’re rapidly approaching adoption of relatively painless choice-based selection when it comes to the future generation. If parents really are concerned their kid will be unacceptably lazy, unacceptably dull, unacceptably slow, etc., they will be able to ‘load the dice’ by selecting embryos that offer the best hope in the desired dimensions. If we ban the procedure in the west, there’s no reason to think it won’t become a booming industry in China, in India, in Thailand, in Mexico, or in other countries already popular for medical tourism.
However, it’s likely there will be government controls anyway. Consider the thugs who commit crimes and cause other troubles. There’s nothing theoretically to stop them from selecting children that are more vicious, more hostile, and more anti-social than would otherwise be the case. To stop this, the government will ban these procedures. Though the underclass is as free as the rest of the population to seek medical tourism abroad, what did Voltaire say about freedom? Something like, In France, the law prevents both the rich and the poor from sleeping under a bridge at night!.
So we probably will have a de facto eugenics policy, where those who look to improve their kids are able to afford to do so, while those not able to are not able to afford the procedure.