September 23, 2002
Culture Plus Genetic Engineering: Split Human Race?

Currently with Old Fashioned Reproduction (henceforth OFR) the only biologically based characteristics people can give to their offspring are those which are coded for in their own DNA and in the DNA of their mates. This places constraints on just how different each generation can be from the previous one on average. So what happens when people gain the ability to control what DNA their progeny will get? The outcome depends on what people want the outcome to be. But here's the most important thing to know about the coming ability to choose ideal genetic ideals of our progeny: we do not all share the same genetic ideals.

Lets start out with the choices that men and women make. It is likely that women, as a group, will choose different ideal characteristics than men will for offspring. How does this matter? Well, today it doesn't matter nearly as much as it will in the future because we are still using OFR. The men and women who have children together can't choose which portion of their own or which portion of their mate's DNA gets passed down to each offspring. Certainly. there are still choices being made. Men and women still have to jointly choose each other for the purpose of reproduction. Though even here there are exceptions. A woman can use sperm bank sperm or pick up a guy at a bar that she's chosen and get pregnant from the guy without the guy ever finding out that he was used basically as a breeding stud (I can honestly say that I know of women who have done exactly that).

Compare a culture where men have total control over the reproduction of women (some countries in the Middle East are certainly that way) with Western countries where the culture has changed to the point where governments allow women to go so far as to choose a sperm donor and have a child on their own without any male's consent.

A culture where mean dominate the genetic decisions for the next generation will make different choices than a culture in which the decision making is more evenly balanced between men and women or a culture in which women have the biggest say.

By Randall Parker at 2002 September 23 08:26 PM 
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