Designing Humans

Anyone who has seen the film Gattaca knows the scenario that we are now encountering: with scientific and medical breakthroughs occurring at an incredible rate, we are increasingly faced with the prospect of designing the next generation, eliminating suspectibility to genetically-based diseases and perhaps even enhancing natural aptitudes. Today we live in a world on the brink of Gattaca. The rapid mapping of the human genome and the functions of many of the genes, a feat made possible in part by ever increasing computing power (fueled by Moore's law), and the discovery of cheap, efficient and accurate gene editing technologies, most notably in the CRISPR group, have combined to give us the kind of genetic screening depicted in Gattaca. This will only become more powerful and cheaper, presenting a deep moral challenge for humanity. 

We have already moved several steps into the world of Gattaca, and one of the principal reasons has been the declining cost of sequencing the human genome. At the beginning of this century, it took almost $100M to sequence one genome.  By 2015, the cost had dropped to $1,245.  When you read this, it will probably be less than $1,000.  Gene screening has become an everyday procedure.

This is a radically new era. As sequencing becomes cheaper, it also becomes faster and more accurate. 

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