The title means “Gattaca Arrived.” In this scene of the 1997 SyFi film Gattaca, Vincent Freeman’s parents are planning a second child, as their first (Vincent) was unfortunately conceived “naturally” and “passionately.” The geneticist-consultant shows them four candidate embryos:
Geneticist: You have specified hazel eyes, dark hair and fair skin. I’ve taken the liberty of eradicating any potentially prejudicial conditions. Premature baldness, myopia… alcoholism and addictive susceptibility… propensity for violence, obesity, etc.
Marie Freeman: We didn’t want… Diseases, yes, but– [looks at Antonio]
Antonio Freeman: We were just wondering if it’s good to leave a few things to chance?
Geneticist: We want to give your child the best possible start. Believe me, we have enough imperfection built-in already. Your child doesn’t need any more additional burdens. Keep in mind, this child is still you. Simply the best of you. You could conceive naturally a thousand times and never get such a result.
Less than two decades after the film’s release it is no longer cinematic fiction. Editing our human DNA safely and wisely is here and will soon be available to the public. What this means is beyond profound and will change life as we know it forever! Please watch this 16-min TED video presentation from one of the co-founders of the CRISPR-CAS9 gene-editor, Dr. Jennifer Doudna.
Some of the questions Dr. Doudna raises and those presented to her at the end of her presentation were very good, very paramount questions for her, the scientific-medical community, and people in general, legislatures in particular, to seriously consider. This has created two nascent scientific-philosophical fields: bioethics and genethics.
The therapeutic uses for this medical technology are unquestionable when it comes to relief of human suffering and early mortality from diseases. One of its uses I personally find fascinating and optimistic about is that of combating addiction, heretical or acquired. The U.S.’s addiction-crisis of the brain’s reward-dopamine abuse is absolutely a treatable illness and disorder! This neurogenetic editing-rehab would have a major impact on our species and societies. For a poignant assessment of this current mental health epidemic and its solutions, click here. At the other end of the addiction spectrum there is one form of treatment which has proven a failure: abstinence. In fact, abstinence has shown for the last 70+ years to exacerbate recovery for almost all addicts.
But rewiring and editing neurological and genetic strands does raise some sub-questions. For example, when is giving charity or open-love or generosity an addiction (clinical co-dependency), and when is it healthy and not an addiction? For hundreds and thousands of years of human history, nowhere, no one group, organization, belief-system, or society has ever had a workable and successful answer — until modern medicine and science.
Then there are some non-therapeutic questions too. For example, here are some I picked out from the National Human Genome Research Institute’s website posted August 2017:
Regarding Properly Informed Consent
- How can an informed choice/decision be offered to an unborn embryo of the edit(s) or to its descendants?
- What exactly should define Properly Informed Consent?
Regarding Justice and Equity
- How can the impoverished and disadvantaged (the world’s 80% – 90% population) people be assured that genome editing is available for all, not just the wealthy causing disparities throughout healthcare?
- How will our species avoid germline editing that creates classes of individuals defined by the quality of their (purchased?) engineered genomes?
However these issues and questions play out, like it or not, gene-editing is here to stay. Whether the U.S. and other democratic nations are at the forefront of this Venit/Arrived technology, other questionable groups, societies, and nations, depending on their “resources,” will get a hold of it eventually, or do everything within their power to stop it or corrupt it. Which brings me to another profound question.
Don’t we have a moral, humane imperative and responsibility to ease and/or stop all suffering?
For me, the answer is Of course we do! It’s a no-brainer. But I am also very happy to report that this positive course of action implies another wonderful reality!
Since a supposed “God” fucked all this up in the first place — or allowed Satan to do so, whichever — in that light we can start doing the work that the mentally retarded, lazy, “God” with no foresight whatsoever has refused to do for well over 300,000 to 500,000 years! Let’s at least keep moving forward helping our reality in practical beneficial ways!
If you’d like to know more remarkable news about gene-editing, watch this 12-min TED video “Gene-editing Can Now Change An Entire Species.”
The positive benefits of utilizing gene-drives and DNA-repairing editors are endless and must be increasingly understood and discussed. At minimum, THAT is indeed what we are responsible for doing. Staying with status quo or what I’ve often described to the religious as stagnate-in-antiquation is a sure-fire way to accelerate extinction.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
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