Eventually, a CRISPR baby will be born.* The (new gene-editing) technology is too easy. There is no world government to stop its use; many argue no one should do so anyway. At the point that baby emerges, perhaps modified to evade a particular disease or perhaps even to look a particular way, theoretical debates will become real.
Jennifer Doudna knows the influence she and her fellow scientists have is diminishing every day. “I would hope this would be used to create cures, to help people,” she says. Even if the technology is not quite there yet, CRISPR could eventually do plenty else besides. Every week a new paper is published finding more genes that influence looks, intelligence, stamina, even sexuality.
“The dystopic view would be IVF clinics that offer parents a menu of options for kids,” she says. “Nobody has kids by sex anymore. You go to a clinic, pick from a menu, say, ‘I want my kid to be this tall, have this colour of eye, this level of IQ,’ and all those sorts of things. I think that would be terrible.”
Tom Whipple writing in 1843 magazine
*Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies MIT Technology Review