Stossel: Don’t Be Scared of Designer Babies

Stossel: Don’t Be Scared of Designer Babies


Soon some of you will try to make “better babies.” Designer babies, where parents can pick eye color as well as things like intelligence and height. Already, some people pay labs to examine embryos and pick the one with the DNA they like. People choose the gender, and screen for diseases. But so far you’ve been limited to harvesting genes that exist naturally. But that will soon change For the first time Chinese scientists used new technology to alter DNA in human embryos. The designed babies are supposed to be immune to many diseases. He Jiankui says the twin sisters were born with immunity to HIV He was put under house arrest Sheldon Krimsky, who’s advised our government about genetic engineering says the Chinese are right to punish that scientist. There’s absolutely no justification for creating a eugenic society. Most Americans agree. There’s a poll here on designer babies, and it asked whether it would be okay to boost intelligence, 83% say taking medical advances is going too far. Of course they say that. Philosophy professor Jason Brennan says people always resist new medical innovation. [Operation sounds] when you have any kind of intervention into the body that’s new, people think it’s icky. And they take that feeling of “ickiness” and they moralize, and think it’s a moral objection. I would like to have a child not a robot, and I understand if you want to protect [applause] They’re with you. I mean where does it stop? You know and I think the other thing is, there should be things that we leave up to God. To the universe. **applause** one of the Bush daughters telling me that God doesn’t want it, I’m not really sure I’m going to take her word for it. If God appears before me and says, “Don’t do this,” I’ll stop. But why would God say “stop”? [Piano sounds] We already give our kids music lessons, braces, tutoring, karate lessons. Any advantage we can. Why not also give them better genes? Imagine, he says, a world where people are much smarter, maybe smart enough to avoid wars, to take us to other planets, and other things we can’t even imagine. Maybe we’ll turn them into X-Men. One objection to “customizing” babies is that at first, only rich people will be able to pay for it. This is going to be a new way to create disparities in wealth. But every bit of technology that we enjoy today follows the same pattern. You look in your automobile, and you have a CD player or an MP3 player, and a GPS, All of these things, when they first became available, were incredibly expensive. The rich pay the infrastructure to develop the technologies, and then they spread and they become commonplace for everybody to have. A cassette player, or a GPS system, people can live without. But if some kids are smarter and taller and faster, that’s just really unfair. But we can make it so that everybody is healthier and happier. But the rich get raised first. They do get raised first, and then they pay for everyone else to be raised second. Rich people got a lot of things first: airplanes, Lasik surgery. Then the prices come down. Even if this price came down for this, it would create more injustice. If some people are better, we’re all better off for it. Einstein’s existence helped everybody. You can’t use the argument that because we’ve had technological breakthroughs that have helped people, that every single effort on using technology is going to help people. You’re just against change. You’re on all these committees with the government. You just want to stop progress unless you give permission. You’re an old fuddy duddy. I love change. But I think there are some boundaries. There are some things that shouldn’t be, shouldn’t be fuddling around with Most countries now have laws banning creation of designer babies. But its still going to happen. So say here in the US, where you’re not allowed to buy a kidney if you need one, that doesn’t mean people don’t buy kidneys. They just go and buy them elsewhere. Banning this kind of technology will just guarantee that it will be available only to the super rich and only to the politically well connected. It’s going to happen anyway somewhere. Well, if it does, it doesn’t mean it should happen in the United States. Once other people start doing this, we’ll all feel we have to, to keep up. It’s not so clear why that’s a problem. If everyone is making their kids healthier and stronger and smarter, and less prone to disease, and you feel social pressure to go along with that, good. Shouldn’t you do that, as a parent, for your child? [baby laughing] I would. I’d want to use science to help my descendants be all they can be.


100 thoughts on “Stossel: Don’t Be Scared of Designer Babies

  1. My only concern is for young babies like my son. I cant shove him back in and tweak his Genes a bit, and he will surely be alive when this takes off. I'll be either dead, or so old it wont matter I'm not enhanced, but the generation being born now, before the enhancements, they will have a tough go of things I think.

  2. Germ line edits anyone? As long as everyone has their genetic history publicly available I guess this libertarian approach might work.

  3. The world would be a profoundly better place if everyone was genetically modified to at least have an IQ of 100. Don't believe me? Read the Bell Curve.

  4. “Above all, I must not play at God.” -Hippocratic Oath

    Man should not have the ability to mess with the genes of other humans. God did not intend this nor did He want Man’s desire to be their own god to supersede another man’s right our God’s sovereignty.

  5. It is a good point, but if the experiment fails at any point, you will have disastrous consequences.

  6. Parents who can't even make the right call on circumcision, are not going to make the right decisions on designer babies either.

    This is far too early, and far too easily abused/politicized.

    For example the suppression of gay genes, or more radically suppression of genes that are linked to individualist attitudes. If they are there, they may be abused.

  7. You are responsible for your own body. Who will be financially and legally liable for the genetic tampering with children? The parents? the scientists? the lab? the government?
    Utopia, even genetic utopia does not exist.

  8. There is a lot about the He Jiang case that is not mentioned here. The guy misled the babies' parents into consenting into the program – they were told it was a program investigating vaccines. The genetic changes he made were, unnecessary, ineffective, and put the babies at net greater risk to other things.

    Despite this, I am a strong proponent for human genetic engineering. I think its a moral necessity.

  9. My problem is, we really don't know everything about genetics and biology in general. It is dangerous and we are toying with childrens lives. We might make them geniuses but if we them sociopaths as well? Extreme caution is necessary at the very least.
    Not to mention this might very well lead to eugenics. You might need certain genes to get into certain schools or jobs. And with the way abortion is going, we might just off people that don't fit our idea of perfect.

  10. I don’t think we know enough about this stuff. The kids born in China will die early because of their DNA changes

  11. That Chinese hack of a scientist had zero right to alter the genes of the twins. He defied the council that explicitly told him that more research was needed and could possibly cause many other issues in their future. That moron is not the face of change, but rather the face of science that is not under control.

  12. Lol, and I thought that intelligence was all about the environment and not the genes :-). I love seeing the left twist itself into a pretzel 🙂

  13. Gotta love the obsession with HIV immunity despite it basically being impossible to get.

    Also, the requirements for braces and glasses are largely if not solely attributed to our terrible diets basically being void of any source of vitamin A, k2, etc.

  14. "Dad, I got HIV from a hospital, I thought everyone was genetically immune now?"
    "Son, it would be immoral to allow you to be immune to HIV because there are kids in africa who can't afford to be immune to HIV."

  15. I have a dear friend with Cystic Fibrosis (a genetic disease that dooms the patient to severe organ problems – particularly the lungs – that generally end life by 50), and I knew a family in church with a kid who had Down's Syndrome. If "Designer Baby" tech could cure these diseases in the womb, I say accept God's blessing, rather than pontificating about what you think He wants. Can we clone organs next, please?

  16. Gattaca was an anti-genetic engineering propaganda film. It never actually happened, it was written by people with an ideological agenda. People need to drop it. Genetic inequality already exists naturally. If anything, this would decrease genetic inequality.

  17. This is how stupid, ideological leftist socialists are:

    "Do not make future generations better. Kill them before they even have a chance!!!!"

  18. Life already isn't fair so instead of giving people a little more say in that reality, let's just assume the worst and ban it.

  19. Stoping disease and making humans stronger faster and smarter sounds like a good idea. God is a shitty designer and we need this.

  20. Thanks for promoting eugenics. Don't you see that the side effects might be terrible. You oversimplify an unbelievably complex subject while taking a stance using weak reasoning. Trash journalism.

  21. Designer babies doesn't mean intentionally designed.
    It means tampering, altering and re-engineering babies and calling it better.
    Just like the GMO seeds.
    Apparently the results was not meant to be, it questioned the ethical and moral principles.

  22. Genes are complicated, errors will be made and there will be unintended consequences that may or may not be good. What do we do with the fabricated babies? Let them out into society or cage them up for study? Do they get the same human rights? What do we do with sports? Is there going to be separate divisions for natural an modified humans? Do you really want a modified with more strength than a natural human competing in MMA? There will be several issues and it opens things up to new regulations. In a society we can't all agree on something like abortion I dont see how we will get a consensus on this. It will take a communist or dictatorship government to make it happen. Do we trust them to take the lead on this? Such a complicated subject. I do think it's more or less inevitable this is going to happen. I dont look forward to the shit show of us trying to figure out how to handle it though.

  23. Science is a powerful tool, and like any tool, it can be used for good or evil. The reality is we'll probably see both from designer babies.

  24. The arguments presented in this micro-reportage are so misleading and full of fallacy that it hurts the rational mind… is not really worth the for the name of the channel

  25. So the reality would be something like this…the very wealthy do use the technology to enhance their offspring and the end up creating a new social class who eventually realize that if everyone does this then no one will be on the top of the ladder and "we need" workers that aren't that intelligent so that they can be "controlled". Politicians are lobbied by the wealthy and the procedure is "outlawed" to the vast majority of society, only those who are connected can have this procedure. Comparing something like gene editing to CD players and Bluetooth in cars is insane.

  26. I have to say. I'm completely mesmerized how far science has come. I'm only 26 and the thing in sci-fi films I saw in my youth are becoming real. If we can have smarter people and prevent diseases and health issues I think we should embrace that. But I have to admit that I feel a bit scared, this is going to have huge implications in our society

  27. I think people are afraid that genetic modifications will lead to eugenics. Eugenics unfairly have a bad representation thanks to Nazi Germany. But some parts of eugenics is very important in the future of humankind. I don’t think government should be involved in deciding what genetics are ideal. But if we have private individuals and couples the choice to pick what traits and attributes their children have, we will have a better society. Again I understand where the anti eugenics people come from. Nazi Germany was awful. But they did have a few good points.

  28. I agree 👍. Jason Brennan hit the nail on the head. Give future children the ultimate liberties need be.

  29. What a fucking moron of a philosophy professor. Whatever your position on designer babies is, saying “whenever something comes out about the body, people feel icky about it. They moralize that and think it’s bad initially.” Morals are supposed to be a set of objective laws that people think govern human nature. Moral relativism holds that morals are made up by each person and are not universal. Either way, if people naturally feel icky then it’s not moralized. It is a natural inclination, a natural sense of morality. If most people feel that way, perhaps it’s universal. Not arguing in favor or against. I do believe messing with embryos is immoral, but I’m not arguing that in this comment. I just want to point out though that that is super poor philosophy and the guy sounds like a smug idiot.

  30. Wait? They arrested him for making a SUPERIOR Chinese? WHYYYY? I want to do this. This is gonna happen. Yeah, many are gonna look Brad & Angie.

    Southern Baptist, here. It's no different than curing polio and God isn't upset about that.

  31. I don't mind the choice of designing. Would love my kid to not have any past family illnesses or even asthma.

    You know how expensive treatment is including loss in quality of life because of it? Pretty sure my kid would be happy he was born healthy rather than ill and because of that illness, they can't enjoy life.

  32. Genetic engineering is not like other technology. Anyone can use GPS, any one can learn to use a smart phone or a computer. However not everyone will be able to use genetic engineering. There will be one generation that will get knee capped when they are moving into their 30's and 40's by the designer babies hitting their 20's. When this occurs those countries that engage in genetic engineering will need to be ready to deal with that backlash where an entire generation will be at a large disadvantage against the following one. Another double edged sword is the increased intellect. Once people are separated by two or more standard deviations in IQ they have difficultly relating to each other. This could create children that have nothing in common with their parents and can't even communicate with them and this could become a generational divide on a global scale. Then there is athletics where you'll have parents trying to design their child for a sport that they may not even like. Contact sports will become even more accident prone as more powerful athletes collide and eventually only engineered people will even be considered for sports.

    Then there will be the beauty standard, where average or above average will become hideous and where 9's and 10's will become just average. Parents will probably start putting custom design features like green hair or violet eyes just to try and make their children stand out. Amine world here we come. However in a world with emerging A.I. human genetic engineering may be the only way we can compete against computers and robots. Humans with 300 + IQ's and increased strength and reflexes might be the only thing keeping A.I. from making mankind obsolete.

    No matter what we personally think, genetic engineering is coming. For those in the USA and western countries it probably would be best to have such research being done in a free market with public oversight, then allowing a totalitarian or communist regime to get an edge in this area. However I would not be volunteering my own kids to be in the first run of designer babies as we have seen from cloning and other such things, they never get the first ones right. If the rich want to roll the dice on that one, they are welcome to it, they can afford to take care of the kids if something goes wrong.

  33. "your children", "my children", "my descendants"

    Except, genetically, they aren't any more. You're happy to end your entire lineage for the benefit of a genetic stranger?

  34. If only to regain the ability for those who have been through fertility-destroying treatments like chemotherapy, I support this

  35. I have some ethical concerns about this. However it would have been great if it were available 30 years ago and my brother wouldn't have been born with a genetic disorder. I see this as a two edge sword. On the one hand it is a great innovation on the other it can be used for ill will.

  36. Wow leftists are so against voluntary non violent eugenics.
    But perfectly happy to spread disgenics at the point of a gun to everyone

  37. You are just editing your genes to better fit this system we are all controlled by. The system doesnt like it when boys cant sit still for 8 hours during school so it is called a disorder when it happens. We are allowing a system to actually mold humans now. Nobody will question it when it comes out because our system we have despises the poor and if you dont increase your child's intelligence genes (if this is eve something that can work) your kids is likely going to be poor. If you are poor you will be forced to fend for yourself and be looked down upon by the people who were simply dealt a hand that better fit the system. Does this seem moral at all?

  38. Immunity to disease give you an advantage for survival. Giving certain classes of people longer lives and smarter brains increases their societal potency. You know that some of these people will use their actionable superiority to preserve said superiority. Imagine if someone like Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan or Hitler was able to live twice as long and be twice as clever. During the 1940s Hitler had his scientist do experiments to create super soldiers. Imagine if he was able to actually pull it off.

  39. For me, look at policies and ethics regarding abortion and apply them here. People who are against abortion will be against this and people who are for abortion will be for this.

  40. "We should leave some things to the Gods!"
    Seriously though….what's often glanced over and not as "scary" is more advanced genetic screening. We are about at the point where we can make a smart baby without altering it's DNA.

  41. My problem with “custom designed babies” is all you have to do is make one small mistake and you have god only knows what kind of medical problems impacting not only that baby but all of man kind

  42. I think we shouldn’t be toying with the things of god like that but my opinion aside If we go through with genetic engineering then we should have a generation of people grow up like that and see if it’s fine first

  43. Well, obviously, it's better to take a philosopher's opinion over a medic's opinion, I mean, he's just a scientist, what do they know about genetics?

    OK, problem of that video is that you did not tell about a major problem – side effects. Changing a gene made this kids more resistant to HIV. And a side effect it put them in a risk of developing different kind of diseases. Is it possible to rewrite a DNA without side effects? Not now. You don't want to modify genes of your kids to make it smarter only to learn that he'll get 90% chance of a liver failure in age of 50 because gene you modify also was responsible for some protein generation, do you? To learn about this you need a human experiments – and that's where thing gets immoral and that's why most of the countries put a ban on such research.

  44. Greater intelligence to avoid war? LOL! As if Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Castro, and the rest were low IQ. Judging by history, most likely the opposite is true. Less intelligence would better prevent war.

  45. Playing God is never a good idea. Equating tampering with the genome to improving the technology of your car stereo is beyond ludicrous. We have no idea how such tampering will affect personality. So you get a high IQ child that turns into another Hitler or the like. Some humility and care are in order.

  46. Didn’t they HIV immunity make them much more likely to contract influenza? Stossel is talking about things he has no depth of understanding of. It’s hilarious that libertarians like to talk about “unintentional consequences” yet he can’t seem to see how there can be alllll kinds of issues tampering with the human genetic code. Let’s have a future of Morlocks and Khan Noonien Singh

  47. The same people who argue against making a baby more intelligent would probably argue that IQ doesn't matter lol

  48. If I ever have a kid, I would gladly give up the majority of my money for them to have every advantage possible such as a higher IQ from genetic manipulation. This is a great thing, not bad. However, the future of society belongs to AGI, not humans.

  49. Wait till we get to the point where scientists don't understand the human genome as much as they've been pretending and people's children start killing themselves.

  50. There are some big problems with it. First once we start, there is no way to stop. At least once it's regularly used. This would likely lead to very little genetic diversity. At this point, stopping would probably cause human extinction

  51. I agree with John Stossel on many things, but not this. If you want your child to have blue eyes or to be smarter, direct human engineering is a bad bet. Let's get out of that business. The result will be freaks, experiments of humanity, Yeah, I want my child to be 7 foot tall barbie doll. This can happen.

  52. We are bound to natural laws as much is nature is bound to its own laws – we are part of nature as much as any animal or plant on the planet.

  53. The lessons of Genesis 6 were not learned. Now these eugenicists want to repeat that mistake and create their own super-humans.

  54. Designer babies require creating large numbers of viable embryos, then selecting to ones with the desired traits. What happens to the rejected embryos? They are destroyed. That is what is unethical about this idea.

  55. It could definitely start with something small like bypassing genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, tourettes syndrome and etc

  56. You know what? You're right! We should make our own babies.

    I got a new idea for a type of baby: They're gunna come out blond-haired, blue eyed, really emphasize those Aryan traits…

  57. I am not happy yet. I wait for the simple technology that I can do- in my bathroom – something totally new. I want to enrich my DNA capacity with the following:
    1) perfect pitch – not the normal perfect pitch. I need one which lets me say from listening in the radio whether the Vienna or Berliner philharmonie is playing a concert from Mozart. The Vienna orchestra has got a higher note a (a few Hertz)
    2) longlivity . No limitation on that; so it depends on my will, to die and get reborn.
    3) New teeth after reaching 40 years and then in the same intervals or
    teeth of such quality that one needn't visit livelong a dentist.
    4) Third eye opening which gives me the capacity to read from the universal cosmic book containing past and future.
    These 4 qualities will be sufficient for the moment. I want to keep my modest character.
    Oh, I forgot to tell you my final aim. It is reaching and staying in moksa state feeling eternal enlightenment as long as I wish.

  58. Presumably a lot of this research is going to be done in universities.
    And looking at what they do to those naive, brainwashed kids just with textbooks and blackboards now, I wouldn''t put it past them to start secretly inserting a 'commie gene' into all the babies or something.

    A society with major institutions as utterly corrupt as ours is not ready to wield the power of genetic engineering…

  59. It starts with only the rich have "designer babies" and then it becomes available for the masses, but what they didn't discuss is what will happen with government intervention. Just as we have the vaccine debate today, with some insurances and even state laws (aka California) trying to pass legislation forcing vaccines on all children whether the parents want it or not (not trying to get into a vaccine debate here, only using it as an example). What will happen is insurances will stop insuring families who don't want eugenics, because they will see their "natural children" as a risk. Perhaps government will eventually step in and force parents to use eugenics when creating their baby because they feel they are doing what is best for the masses. What will start out as a choice for families will most likely become forced upon parents in the future.

  60. Why not do it? Because human beings are arrogant and stupid. They have no idea what they're getting into, blind and ignorant. All hell will break loose.

  61. The reason it's wrong, other than not being farsighted enough, is that God is the Master of life. He's got a plan for everybody (even if it's not fulfilled), to the point of deciding when you will be born. I'm sure people make it challenging to get his purposes done when they mess around with planning their children. It's not right to be playing little gods, planning the human race. Life is much more complicated than that.

  62. Why do we assume this is going to result in improving the kids? The Chinese girls' immunity to HIV cost them much of their immunity to other diseases and are slated to die young (nevermind that HIV is a non-issue for straight, sober people). Our knowledge of genetics has barely scratched the surface of understanding what we're be playing with, and yet we're already trying to put it into practice on people. I'd object on religious moral grounds but I don't think I even need to; the problem will probably solve itself, at least from the standpoint of the parents' will.

    However, the minute the Chinese government develops a genetic sequence to pacify its citizenry and make them more productive (read: strip them of their humanity and turn them into robots a la Capek), it's going to become mandatory. And it's not going to keep itself to condemning backwards, repressed cultures to permanent slavery either.

  63. Great video Stossel, with the advent of genetic engineering 21st century eugenics is not the same morally as the sterilisation eugenics of the past.

  64. This will happen you really can't stop it. If you try you will not only make sure only the wealthy will have the first "designer" babies but it'll take longer for the technology to trickle down to everyone else.

  65. Who gets to decide what is right for me? ME!!!! Any bureaucrat; get out of my life!!! Just give me the full information (good and bad) to let me make an informed decision!!!!

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