Trope-a-Day: Designer Babies

Designer Babies: Of course. That’s called responsible parenting. What sort of parent leaves the health and future of their children up to the random genetic lottery? One might say that’s akin to child abuse!

(And the chief reason one wouldn’t say that is because legally, it is. Or, technically, “felony dysgenesis”.)

6 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: Designer Babies

    • We’re currently being asked to select between an authoritarian and a lunatic for the job of running the planet’s biggest military, not to mention a pretty major economy and assorted other appendages.

      …needless to say I, too, wouldn’t trust any human organization with that kind of authority. Or, much of the time, authority.

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  1. Boy, if I could guarantee that my children don’t get the sub-optimal bits of my genome (to say nothing of the hereditary disorder-causing bits), I’d be all for it.

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    • To be sure, to be sure. I don’t have kids in not insignificant part because I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and that’s not exactly a gift I’d like to pass on to the next generation. If I could edit that out, I’d do it in a New York minute.

      On the other hand, I think I’d feel a lot less comfortable about editing the genome of prospective progeny to make them conform better. But on the gripping hand, I probably would have no problem with doing that as part of a general effort to raise the sanity waterline, provided we had defined that sufficiently well.

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  2. Which, incidentally, raises the questions: What specific qualities are considered “undesirable,” and does eldraeic law have any recourse to remedies for a dysgenically reproduced sophont whose existence is a fait accompli?

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    • What specific qualities are considered “undesirable,”

      That would be a very long list, even beyond such trivial generalities as “hereditary diseases” and somewhat grayer areas like “stupidity, or unnecessary ugliness”, and so is mostly defined by exception. Specifically, the Citizen Eugenics Board define the alpha baseline for each species, which is the long, long list defining all the minimal acceptable standards for making a new person.

      (It bears very little resemblance to the actual species baseline, being augmented out the wazoo, but then, progress happens, and the genius of 792 could easily be the mental cripple of 7921. So it goes.)

      Basically, if your design falls below the alpha baseline in any way, you’re in dysgenic territory. You can, however, go sideways as well as upwards: you can, for example, trade the ability to breathe air for the ability to breathe water and still be safe, or swap out most normal integument and senses for different ones in the process of becoming a giant corona-dwelling space whale without trouble. But you can’t reduce your child below the limit unless they gain at least as much back somewhere else suitably appropriate or necessary.

      [It doesn’t apply if you’re building new bodies for the market, note: if you want to, or your customer wants to, informedly download themselves into an enfeebled moron, well, that’s their dumb-assed free choice. But you can’t inflict that on dependents.]

      and does eldraeic law have any recourse to remedies for a dysgenically reproduced sophont whose existence is a fait accompli?

      Well, they could sue their parent(s) for eye-bleeding amounts of weregeld and compensation, but the odds are the CEB have already done that on their behalf long before it would ever occur to them. It comes to the same thing in the end.

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