Rather than appreciate making babies the natural way, scientists and the media seem drawn to dystopian novels.
Making babies is a central feature presented in the dystopian novel, Brave New World. But only by factory production. Making babies through sex is considered unspeakably filthy. Twenty years ago the movie Gattaca portrayed the same thing in a totalitarian future.
So why are scientists acting like those dystopian warnings are an instruction manual? And why are thy being treated seriously in the media?
The Express Tribune reports, “Stanford professor believes in the future we won’t have sex to procreate.”
Today, Stanford University professor Hank Greely’s assertion that Americans will stop having sex to procreate sounds absurd. But in a couple of decades, he predicts, that will be the accepted reality.
Greely, director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Law and the Biosciences, believes that we’re 20 to 30 years away from a time when most American procreation will begin by selecting from a range of embryos created with the parents’ DNA in a lab.
This already happens on a limited basis for disease prevention and occasionally sex selection, but he argues it will become far cheaper and widely available thanks to stem cell technology that will allow couples to make eggs and sperm out of stem cells from their skin.
Prospective parents will start by screening those embryos for genetic diseases such as Huntington’s, but quickly expand to other traits, he predicts. Perhaps they’ll weed out the BRAC1 gene for breast cancer, predispositions for Alzheimer’s, or they’ll be able to select cosmetic features such as hair and eye color, and even more complex traits such as intelligence.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to say this embryo will get a 1550 on its two-part SAT,” Greely said this week at Aspen Ideas Festival. “But, this embryo has a 60 per cent chance of being in the top half, this embryo has a 13 per cent chance of being in the top 10 per cent —I think that’s really possible.”