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Tucker Guest Column: Designer Babies

By Keith Tucker

Special to The Enterprise

If you could make your yet-to-be conceived children prettier, smarter, less susceptible to disease and able to live longer, would you do it? The technology to do all that is coming soon.  Sometimes, different technologies intersect and make the other much more powerful. Like a nuclear bomb is powerful, but strap it on top of an intercontinental missile and you have a game changer. 

Hence in vitro fertility tech and Crispr tech, aided by artificial intelligence, could make super humans. We know that in vitro takes eggs and makes pregnancy possible for those who can’t do so otherwise. But what is Crispr? It takes your DNA and snips out exact sections and replaces it. The use so far has been a cure for sickle cell anemia, with other diseases in trials. Where this gets tricky is doing the work on embryos. Currently it is not legal. Keep in mind some of this tech was used to make the Covid vaccine. Which is why it was able to be produced in record time. The reason it’s not legal is, do we really want to change our basic human DNA at the embryo stage on someone who has no say in the matter? I think not. However, if we can remove known disease-causing DNA segments, that’s a good thing. 

I remember a man from WWII who brought back a beautiful British bride. They had three wonderful children. She unfortunately had the Huntington disease gene. Neither she nor any of the kids lived to see 50 years old. To be able to repair that gene would have made those lives so much better. 

Where artificial intelligence comes in is it can tell us the results of changes to certain snippets of DNA faster and more accurately. So, what might take years to figure out would be weeks. However the urge to dabble in off-limit areas would be hard to police. Not so far away from what the Nazis had in mind to grow a super race.  

The Chinese have jailed one doctor who has already been breaking the rules. This has the possibility to do much good, as long as we don’t abuse it.

Keith Tucker is a Greenfield resident and owner of The Marble Shop.

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