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.