Oops, 7 Days. Hey look I don't update on weekends.

how we're all going to look like

Yesterday we discussed this a little, and I expected a lot of the variation - including the ugly parts - would remain.

However, I forget about the artificial selection that is already taking place, and the possibilities of which are limitless.

Today, in India and China there are less then 9 girls born for every 10 boys. The direct consequence of selective abortion after echo-pictures.

In the west, most Down syndrome children are no longer born, because of early testing.

The number of tests will increase dramatically in the near future, enabling to find all kinds of properties. Parents will use this to stear the genetics of their - few - children as much as possible. Ethics to prevent this will loose.

Eugenetics will become a part of humanity. As parents are inherently ambitious for their children, the more so when they have few.

For our looks this will probably mean that we will look prettier on average then now, and I think it will enhance extremes. Less brown hair, more full black or very blonde, and not thin, but all full and long. That kind of thing. Bodies will become athletic.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 16th, 2006
THAN

when comparing, it's THAN, not THEN

Good Christ
Permalink Mark Warner 
January 16th, 2006
LOSE
It's 'lose', not 'loose'. Those are two different words. Good Christ!
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 16th, 2006
Pendantic bastard.

You're upset because you'd never be born in the future that Erik is describing.
Permalink Almost H. Anonymous 
January 16th, 2006
Yes, but there will always be throw backs like me that don't even find out the sex of their child until it comes out screaming into the world. My wife and I would not want to know in advance of sex, congenital disease etc. Its our child whatever happens.

Of course people like me will continue to muddy your perfect gene pool forever I hope...
Permalink O Canader 
January 16th, 2006
I don't advocate this future. I only think it is highly probable.

The numbers of India and China are not made up.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 16th, 2006
You haven't watched Gattaca?
Permalink Peter 
January 16th, 2006
O Canader, free medical let's you friggin' NDPers (of are you one of those more complex marijuana party folks) run rampant doesn't it. Fornicating roots and bark eaters.
Permalink -blank by choice- 
January 16th, 2006
We don't eat roots and bark.

Tree sap thats been boiled and lots of mad cows maybe but not roots and bark.
Permalink O Canader 
January 16th, 2006
No, didn't see Gattaca, but there have been thousands of SF stories around this theme ever since Brave New World (1932).

It is just over the last 10 years that the first application of the principle is beeing applied on a large scale, and the technology is on the point of exploding.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 16th, 2006
Yes, this is like the sexy explosion I make insidah my wife!
Permalink Borat 
January 16th, 2006
And its eugenics. Not eugenetics.
Permalink Thirsty None Given 
January 16th, 2006
Then I'm going to recommend you watch Gattaca. It is rather entertaining and looks at some of the questions you seem to be asking.

Old fashioned reproduction is wasteful (only 2 out of 5 fertilized embryos survive to term = 60% failure rate). But nowhere near as wasteful as current technology for genetic engineering (a 99% failure rate is considered successful).

People won't be able to select characteristics from a catalog in the next 50 years. There *are* tests for inheritable diseases, and will be some more testing in the future. Testing to see if your kid has the "gay" gene? Check. Adding new things? No. Making sure your kids are blue eyed aryans? Not for a long time. Not in your lifetime. Determining if your kid has higher/lower succeptibility to disease_X? No, too much paid interference by industry. It took 100+ years between the first research showing tobacco was harmful, and the general public recognizing/accepting it is harmful. The book Trust Us, We're Experts goes into details about this.

Long before there will be designer babies, there will be surreptitious/illegal cloning of movie stars/models. Think things are bad enough that names are fashionable? Imagine tens of thousands of Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt clones running around.

Crippling limiting factor:
To get "designer babies" to happen will require the ability to clone humans. The technology needed to insert "fresh" nuclei into eggs is the limiting factor. Mammals are very hard to clone. Inserting designer genes is incredibly wasteful. Just look at the waste involved in making the green pigs. 265 embryos used to produce 3 live births: a 99% failure rate. Last time I checked, human eggs ran about $5k each ("models" 4-10x higher). The pro-life movement is currently intentionally ignoring in-vitro fertilization and fertility clinics, but should this happen on a much larger scale with human embryos, man, they'll make alqeda seem like teletubbies.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4605202.stm

To get "designer babies," the technology will have to go through many orders of magnitude improvement. Just to get it to where billionaires can afford it will take several orders of magnitude improvement. Think of the difference between computers made with vacuum tubes and current stuff. That took the cold war, plus the Manhattan and Apollo programs to fund the technology to build the tools to build the tools to make the stuff. What multi-billion dollar programs with hundreds of thousands of workers are going to make designer babies? None.
Permalink Peter 
January 16th, 2006
I disagree!
Permalink drive by pedantry 
January 16th, 2006
Who cares if you disagree?
Permalink Zulu Nation 
January 16th, 2006
Man, those babes in Gattaca were hot. I'd like to nail me some of that. If hot babes from eugenics are wrong, I don't wanna be right.
Permalink PanogX 
January 16th, 2006
Peter, you are far to 'pessimistic' - no morals meant - about the development in this field.

They find genes for characteristics in an incredible rate at the moment.

Even without cloning, or injection of new genes you can steer enormously by just choosing between a couple of eggs. Recently this was done to choose a baby that would produce the suitable blood type to save his brother with cancer.

Eye color, skin color, hair color, they are determined by a few genes. This doesn't mean you have a catalog of faces, just a lot of choices to play with.
Of course this is pure 'luxury', and will not be 'available' after a lot of defect diagnostics have been developed.

Maybe the US and Europe will follow relatively late in this development. Korea, China, India are the countries where this will be accepted much earlier.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 16th, 2006
I do not believe I am being pessimistic. The hurdles that have to be overcome are enormous. A "test tube" baby runs far in excess of $50k, with numbers over $200k being not abnormal (some bad cases I've heard of, parents spent well over $1000K before they had a live birth). "Test and flush" isn't ever going to be common (or acceptable) in the west.

Apparently India banned "test and flush" in 1994.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4601184.stm

Normally, somewhere between 105 and 120 boys are born per 100 girls. Males have a higher death rate than females at every stage: from conception, to birth, to death. During the Victorian era, about 1/3 of all women never married (today, in the US, that number is under 10%).
Permalink Peter 
January 16th, 2006
>> Korea, China, India are the countries where this will be accepted much earlier. <<

I think you're right, in this. Those cultures seem to be much more willing to monkey around with DNA and genetic selection in humans.

Our queasiness with regards to stem-cell research will result in our being left behind.

Of course, there remains the question of whether this is a good thing to do or not. My main concern would be a growing lack of genetic diversity, as people select from a narrow supply of genes -- you'd have Ken 1 thru 8 and Barbie models 1 thru 14.
Permalink example 
January 16th, 2006
Get me one of them Eloi, hoo boy. Then we'll see who's got what.
Permalink Michael Morlock 
January 16th, 2006
Eric, haven't people been practising eugenics for millions of years? Now it will be less about external markers than "the gene itself" but still one would select a gene based on its effect rather than say the number of base pairs, or some other meaningless property, it has.

So it seems a question of degree of eugenics which will be practised rather than the either/or.

I'd also vote that Japan will be the first to practise cosmetic genetics like conceiving of blonde, blue-eyed haired children. It's richer than the other Asian countries, and intensely brand-aware and homogenous. It doesn't have the religious hangups of the US, or the historical ones of Europe.
Permalink Spinoza 
January 16th, 2006
"My main concern would be a growing lack of genetic diversity, as people select from a narrow supply of genes -- you'd have Ken 1 thru 8 and Barbie models 1 thru 14. "

Backwoods-style inbreeding, only in DD! I can just imagine the underground market for porn star clones. The genetic...erm..."raw material" shouldn't be too hard to acquire, especially for the males of that species. ;-)
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
January 16th, 2006
In the past humans could not/hardly afford eugenics.

Population growth has been too slow for humans to waste children. There was enough waste in disease and other losses. And because weaning was delayed until after several years, a woman would only bear child every three or four years.

Only very recently the chances of survival of children has improved so dramatically that we can - and even should - limit the number of children, and we can start to choose.
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 16th, 2006
"Only very recently the chances of survival of children has improved so dramatically that we can - and even should - limit the number of children, and we can start to choose."

What do you mean by "recently"? Infant survival rates in the West have been steady for quite a few decades.

In any case, your logic really is bass ackward. In most of the West there is a crisis that there are far too few children being born, leading to some serious ramifications as a population implosion occurs. Of course trends aren't forever, and there is definitely a push towards having more children again (so much so that national daycare is a serious voting consideration in Canada. 10 years ago it would have been derided as a `special interest' platform).

BTW: For those who have no idea, the cost for my two children to attend daycare = $2400 / month, or ~$30,000 / year. I get to tax deduct $14,000 total of that off of my wife's income, so it reduces her taxes $5,000 or so.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 16th, 2006
And you wonder why not everybody are laughing at the $1200 rebates ...
Permalink Rick Tang 
January 16th, 2006
"If hot babes from eugenics are wrong, I don't wanna be right."

Damn straight!
Permalink Bubba 
January 16th, 2006
When I say recently, I refer to a total timescale of around 100,000 years.

100 years is very recent in this respect.

It is believed that around 70,000 years ago there was a minimum in the total human (homo sapiens) population. Maybe as low as a 1000 individuals.

Which means that we added less then 7 zero's (1000 -> 6,000,000,000) in 70,000 years, is a tenfold in 10,000 years. Which makes for an average growth rate of 0.023%
Permalink Erik Springelkamp 
January 17th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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