Sunday, April 6, 2008

Designer Babies or Borgs? Deaf or Not?

I was reading up on the UK controversy regarding IVF and deaf embryos on i711's The Deaf Embryo Debate post and a few more on USA-L News. Here, it's more a question of ethics. Others have asked why are we trying to play God? This question has often been in forum- and list-demolishing abortion debates.

First, a little science fiction. How many of us are familiar with the Star Trek character called the Borg? Borg history is here -

"We are Borg. Resistance is futile."

Then on Jamie Berke's blog, Deaf IVF Embryos, Natural Deaf Babies, and Choices, I made a comment about the Borg and what keeps us from getting to the point where we're more machine than human.

"You will be assimilated."

When she said she was going to post about the UK controversy, something came to mind related to the Borg. What's to stop us from getting to the point where we're more Borg/machine than human or being born that way? Voyager had a scene where an away team beamed onto a Borg cube open a nursery ‘drawer’ that had a baby inside with Borg implants. This would be the "maturation chamber" shown in Voyager's Mortal Coil episode (season 4, episode 12). It seems Voyager had at least a point in asking indirectly where we will stop when we actually make a Borg. Then the question will be when being human stops and when being Borg starts.

"Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own."

What's to stop our "Borg-ed" offspring from "assimilating" others? Yes, I know it's science fiction, but even then, sci-fi has a way of coming true. Science has created nanomachines.

There was a book I remember reading where this doctor 'modifies' embryo genes so that the kid doesn't grow up to become an alcoholic or something like that. What's to stop that from happening so that deafness and other diseases are 'edited' out of the genes and 'perfect' humans are born? Some other TV show episodes have gone down this path. Historically, cultures have killed, hidden, or limited those with certain disabilities.

Think of what the total cost would be when IVF combines with embryo implantation and/or gene modification. A rich person's procedure. Something only done in sci-fi. Could it happen today or is it already happening?

What's stopping us from creating "the perfect baby and/or human" without illness or disability?

"Your culture will adapt to serve us. Resistance is futile."

Now that's Borg perfection!

1 comment:

RLM said...

So-called perfect human baby will be fallen to severe bodily infection which the Mother Nature's mysterious ways prevails the human meddlings.

I recalled my Home Economics class back in my eighth grade at the residential school. There were two seperate groups - boys and girls making dessert assigned by the home ec "hearing" teacher.

The male classmate and I sloppily measured all the interdigents and not really followed the receipe step by step. Another "girl" group perfectly followed the receipe and done very organized creation.

The time for the home ec teacher and classmates sit down and consume our dessert creations.

Guess what? The boys' dessert tasted GREAT than the girls' dessert - REAL AWFUL. One of the girls cried and cried unstoppable. She blurted out "I exactly followed what the receipe said". *sob* *sob*

The home ec teacher looked at me and another male classmate with confusion. Of course, both of us, boys laughed smugily.

That's why I always have the real faith in the Mother Nature and her unpredictable way of tearing down such abnormal human internventions and meddlings.