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Embryo DNA Experiments Hold Lessons For Tech
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kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
4/29/2015 | 3:57:06 PM
ethics is as ethics does
Disease prevention is always a laudable goal. After all when disease is prevented there are more healthy people to make sure everyone on the planet has a place to live and food to eat. The only reason i can see that scientists might be upset oer embryonic experiments is that once you start changing some genes you learn how to change others. And that embryo doesn't get a say if genetic changes lead to parents who want a child of a different gender, sexual orientation, of even better at sports or math, or say, more obediant. An adult that gets genetic therapy consents to only what they want changed. Even though these embryos were not viable, there are ethical questions in genetic therapy in that context, of what we should be allowed to change.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
4/27/2015 | 6:36:24 PM
It's a quality of life issue
I don't think ethics should be trumped by dollar signs under the guise of disease preemption.  It is irresponsible and unconscionable for science to extend life without ensuring that every human being who is on this planet has a place to live and enough to eat.  
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
4/26/2015 | 8:34:44 PM
Whats the vatican response?
What a thought provoking piece!

It seems that for a variety of reasons Chinese will take a lead here. And wealthy European couples will go to China for smarter and healthier kids.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
4/26/2015 | 5:16:27 PM
Re: Embryo DNA Experiments Hold Lessons For Tech
I couldn't agree more, Dave. Maybe it's no surprise at this point that US (and other) media outlets will be filled with exaggerated outrage over any and every bit of news, but when it comes to something science-oriented, I feel compelled to stand up on behalf of reason, especially when reputable science sources are amongst those doing the naysaying. Now, I'm not saying there's no moral debate here. As Mr. DavidK points out, we're all sci-fi fans, and there's no shortage of stories of gene modification gone wrong there. Apparently, there's an international "policy agreement"  specifically forbidding this kind of research, and the chinese researchers knowingly broke it. So, while you're right that our western morals have no jurisdiction over them, we're back to the other side of the coin. There is an international community to answer to when it comes to science, and it moves at a certain pace by design.

That's a far cry from going against progress, though. Terry makes a great point. The line of at what point we're mucking with 'nature's intentions' is fairly arbitrary, and to that end, religion should have no place in restricting the rights of others. History ought to have proven that enough times by now. I don't blame people for being heated - this is a heavy issue. Projecting ignorance, though, is only going to stifle us from making the important decisions when it's time to. It sounds like  the methods used by MIT are not even that different from the ones used by the chinese researchers - Crispr/Cas9 appears to be a subtype of crispr ("Cas" just means "crispr associated"). The fact that many of the people up in arms wouldn't even be bothered to read that far says a lot. Many STEM figureheads talk about how important a STEM-aware populace is for future generations. I agree with that 100%.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
4/25/2015 | 2:17:42 PM
Re: Good Stuff
It is an interesting concept. I think it would be great if there was a way to prevent people from developing a blood disease, especially those at high risk. It would prevent such people from struggling to live, running to many appointments, undergoing blood transfusions, and being ill. It gives people a chance to grow up with not such a risk. I do see how this can be a controversial experiment but it's worth putting on the table to discuss.
DavidK543
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DavidK543,
User Rank: Strategist
4/24/2015 | 6:47:35 PM
Re: Good Stuff
The same tech that can cure disease can attempt to adjust IQ... 

Once you have manipulated 1000 dna to remove diseases, you get "good" at it, not that hard for someone with a billion dollars to secretly do the same to enhance his kids, and scientists who would be overjoyed to help.  
DavidK543
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DavidK543,
User Rank: Strategist
4/24/2015 | 6:42:18 PM
Say YES to Khan
Khan Noonien Singh and his friends can make the human race better, stronger, smarter, faster.  We could be stronger than Klingons, sneakier than romulians, even defeat the borg with their leadership!

Don't listen to Kirk.  Kirk is a hypocrite!  If Kirk really cared about keeping human dna natural, he wouldn't be screwing around with all the green skinned alien girls!

I for one welcome our genetically engineered human overlords.  There is no reason why the rich should not use this tech to make their kids, smarter, stronger, sneakier...  so much better to rule the world with.  Countries may come and go but the multinational corporations will endure.  In Disney we Trust!
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
4/24/2015 | 1:19:10 PM
Re: Good Stuff
@TerryB- Thanks. the thing that really chaps me is that MIT is one of the larger sources of complaints about altering embryo DNA but they are the ones altering adult DNA. It strikes me as a perfect example of someone complaining more about competition than anything. 

Granted, i'm no scieintist. There is a difference. But you know who are scientists? The Chinese researchers. I trust them as much as the folks at MIT to take the right precautions. 

Either way, whether it is a law in Indiana, a hot new startup, or new science research, we know the money follows the best idea and the one society can tolerate the most. This will work itself out.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2015 | 1:13:46 PM
Good Stuff
One of your more thought provoking stories, Dave. I think this type of stuff will always rub people wrong on certain places of the religion scale. There are people who think having a doctor treat you is "messing with God's will". Personally, I'm not sure I see a whole lot of difference in altering adult DNA or embryo DNA. Assuming you can do it without side effects, I think the morality argument among the bulk of people will be what you are doing by altering the DNA. Curing serious illness, I think most will get on board with that. Increasing IQ or physical characteristics, I would suspect the majority might start drawing lines.

As far as East versus West, I think we are way too high and mighty sometimes. Take the Chinese initiative to limit population growth (which they are now relaxing), something like that would never fly in West, whether on grounds of religion or personal freedom. But to me, that was along the lines of the Spock-ism "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.". I'd be curious how many people would agree with that.


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