Gene Editing/CRISPR etc

Been mulling over this a little bit recently given the US Senior Scientific Committee recently green lit further research into performing gene editing on embryos

Whilst I’m happy that further work is being done in this area, I’ve been pondering wondering whether ethics is capable of keeping up with how quickly this technology is being developed and I wonder whether ultimately there’s going to be relatively few people who actually benefit from this. Anyone else reading about this stuff? Too serious for a Friday morning? Probably.

probably gonna watch Gattaca tonight.

Not a great film.

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It seems a bit light on the actual science there, or rather it’s written in a sensationalist way. It doesn’t sound like anyone’s about to make designer babies at all.

The technology has actually evolved quite a bit here’s a a fairly decent summary about how it works.

Just to add, in China this technology was used on nonviable fetuses (with varying levels of success).


This is potentially very bad.

CRISPr is potentially very, very good.

Crispr sounds like the dating app I can get right behind

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Potentially, yes. Capitalism will potentially fuck everything up though.

There is a requirement (if there isn’t already) for strict laws to be put in place to govern the use of such technology. Clearly this won’t happen everywhere however.

seems a pretty garbled argument tbh
"Once you start creating a society in which rich people’s children get biological advantages over other children, basic notions of human equality go out the window"

Ummm, I think a far greater, current issue of human equality is rich people’s children inheriting and retaining wealth, and all the immediate benefits that allows, rather than some vague notion I could maybe boost my rich kid’s IQ by a few points and have blue eyes

I think the argument is that this technology has the potential to further solidify inequality, as poor people and rich people will be physically distinguishable more so than they are now.

also has the potential for massive cost savings in the health system via preventative medicine, meaning we don’t have to spend trillions on treatment as nobody has diseases, and everyone is healthy and can work until they are 1000 and hoverboards

Not arguing that it doesn’t have the potential to be amazing, but in a potentially NHS-less future it could result in a dystopian nightmare world.

Have you not seen Gattaca???

I find aspects of that article a little all over the place. For one thing the current genetic testing surely means that the primary way of dealing with genetic illnesses is through abortion which for many people for various reasons might not be the route they want to go. CRISPR would simply provide an alternative.

I’m also not sure why he discusses genetic enhancement in the context of three parents children as this was specifically developed to assist babies who would otherwise be born with malfunctioning mitochondria, otherwise there’s nothing that different from having the child born “naturally”.

I would agree that there’s a degree of social inequality that could be exacerbated by the technology however just like Im_On_Safari suggested up above ultimately this is far less effective than the selection bias that is already in place in our current society (and societies all over the world).

mate, the robot masters aren’t even gonna let us breed in 40 years time

Aye, I’m not fully behind the article by any means. I would happily endorse preventing heritable disease as part of a socialised healthcare system. I don’t agree with the author that current screening methods combined with abortions are good enough in an ideal world.

But it’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where the technology is only available to rich people. I mean that’s just how healthcare is in the US for example. And who knows whether we’ll still have an NHS when this technology is economically viable on a large scale.

EDIT: I also don’t really know what he’s on about re: curing mitochondrial disease.

Absolutely fair point.

Yeah but I think this is just the cherry on top of runaway neoliberalism continuing it’s pattern of creating relative poverty, absolute poverty and inequality on an ever widening scale all over the world.

For those wondering about the article remember it’s not a neutral piece, it’s written by someone’s who is very firmly against the sort of thing. Would be nice to see a debate from both sides.

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