In the short clip below, NASA bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe talks about the ethical implications of ‘designer brains’. His basic premise is that being able to manipulate the genetics of our offspring signals a quantum change in the way we reproduce. What are the implications as we begin to contemplate ‘micromanaging’ the genetics of our children? What traits do we wish to enhance? Those which improve productivity and competitiveness, or those that improve social cohesion and altruism?
Wolpe is not opposed to ‘designer brains’ per se – he is however concerned as to how humanity will use the underlying technology. He has a very valid point in this respect. There is as much potential for abuse, but also for good. Which way will it go? The jury is still out on that question, but human nature being what it is, there is surely much valid cause for concern.