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How do you think genomics will impact the way humans conceive of themselves? I know we tend to think of ourselves as core “souls” encased by a shell of “body”, so how does understanding genetic variants that relate to, say, intelligence, addiction, tendency to commit crimes/suicide etc change that? 

I do think that knowledge changes the way we think – fundamentally. Therefore, I do think that genetic discoveries will change (to some extent) the way we think about ourselves and about others. Like with any knowledge, there may be positive and negative sides of this knowledge. On a positive side, we will recognize that genetically everyone is special, individual and unique. We will also recognize that everyone carries risks for many traits – good and bad. That in many ways, genetics is a lottery – some people are more lucky than others – and we should recognize this. It is harder for some people to loose weight, to stay motivated, to be conscientious, not to get angry… It is easier for some people to do things. These are not excuses or achievements – they are explanations. I think genetic message is one of tolerance, of compassion, of equality despite differences.

On the negative side is that knowing may be a burden. People may try to run away from their ‘probabilistic’ fate, or worry about things that may (or may not) come, and this may affect them negatively… This is not a question about genetics only, it is more about any prediction.

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For someone like me who suffers from depression and mental health issues(schizophrenia) do you think it is immoral to reproduce?

 

Every individual should be able to and should be allowed to make decisions about reproduction themselves. Even if we discover all the genetic variants (polymorphisms) that are involved in complex traits, such as depression, the prediction of whether someone may develop depression will be only probabilistic. This is because genes will interact with environments, and the same genes may express differently in different environments. By the time we will be able to make solid predictions of traits from DNA alone, we may also develop better understanding of how to prevent or treat conditions, for example from targeting specific cells with drugs, or by providing specific environmental conditions early in development. In any case, the value of Life can not be evaluated or predicted in a mathematical way and will always remain a mystery. However, we can equip ourselves with the best current information when making any such decisions; be this through academic papers or medical consultation.

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Why are “designer babies” worse then the at random babies we have now? I mean you could choose a spouse now to put your child down a path, why not more control? We effectively control how our children emotionally/intellectually mature, why not appearance as well. In other words, I feel a giant meh while others are up in arms. GMOs are good, better genetics would be better?

Wide genetic variance is valuable to the population as a whole. Humans aren’t terribly good at knowing what’s to come, and traits that we deem “undesirable” may be beneficial in the future.

Also, you tread awfully close to eugenics. Sure, you don’t want your kid to be born with a debilitating disease, and most modern Americans would agree with you on that, but when it’s the norm for everyone to be born healthy, what other genes do parents want to omit? Tendencies toward same-sex attraction? Tendencies toward certain personality traits? Features associated with certain “races”?

Is it moral to say that people who aren’t perfectly healthy, gorgeous, outgoing, straight white men are not worthy of existing? No. No it’s not, and that means that there’s a moral line somewhere between “Let’s not have debilitating illness” and “You have full control of every aspect of your children’s genome.” It might be a blurry line, and it might take us some time to find, but it’s there and we should tread lightly until we find it.

 

Thank you to “NuStunt23” from Reddit for this response