Genetically-Engineered Superhumans In Real Life?

17 Dec

I’ve been thinking about what might happen if genetically-enhanced people became common – in effect, designer babies. My general concept is that the treatment has to be performed once the egg has met the sperm, with the end result either implanted in the woman or brought to term in an artificial womb. It can’t actually be done after the child is born, although as technology advances it may be possible to ‘tweak’ the developing child. I think that military scientists would definitely be interested in creating a real Captain America, but that might not be possible for some time.

The changes are actually limited, at least at first. Improved disease resistance is one of them; the genies have perfect immune systems. Their skin tans very quickly, rendering skin cancer a null prospect. They can be tweaked to be stronger, generally fitter and perhaps (at least potentially) smarter than the average human. They’re not super-smart, but they do have improved memory and processing capability that tends to give them an impression of being smarter. And all of these changes are basically dominant – they will be passed on to their children, at least to some degree.

Doing this is, of course, very expensive, at least at first. It’s also likely to be one of those dodgy treatments that can’t be performed in the US or Europe because of laws intended to forbid it. (Rather like millionaires will go to Latin America to get a transplant from China rather than wait for one to be available in the USA.) What that all boils down to is that genies will be mainly concentrated among the children of the rich and/or well-connected. By the time the treatments become common (and legally available) there will probably be several generations of genies, all from richer families.

The genies are not insane, not in the sense of being Khan Singh-type superhumans with a dream of world conquest and/or using a tailored virus to exterminate mundane humans. At least, they’re not given to it any more than mundane humans are – which does suggest that there will be quite a few potential tyrants among the genies.

An additional problem is that the technology isn’t very well understood. As researchers try to push the limits, they create problems. Some kids get ill and die early, others miscarry…

So I was wondering – what effect would this technology have on human society? How would the world at large react to it? How about the religious communities? What might happen as the first genies grow up?

How would humanity respond?

Chris

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