This may start off as pretty off-topic, but trust me I will try to tie it all together. The other day I checked out the movie Gattaca on Netflix:
I’m not going to completely spoil the plot of this movie, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, but the general idea of the movie is what I’d like to discuss. The movie occurs in the “not-too-distant-future”, where people are able to have improved, nearly perfect children through genetic manipulation at the time of inception. This means they could pick their child’s gender, eye color, hair color, etc. And they will even remove traits that cause anger, violence, etc. These children grow up to be highly-regarded in society and are called “Valids”. They get the really good jobs.
Then there are children who are conceived naturally, without any genetic manipulation. They’re called “In-Valids” and are relegated to menial jobs. There’s a scene where an “in-valid” baby is born and a nurse prints and reads off a list of probabilities that the baby will have something wrong…on it was something like “ADD, 50%….heart disease 91%…estimated life span 30.2 years…”
The parents of the natural child regret their decision and use genetic manipulation for their next child. They constantly remind the oldest son of his possible flaws, pointing out that his heart can’t handle things, even though there was no proof of a heart condition with him. Valids have high-status jobs, but are always subject to urine and blood testing to ensure they’re genetically superior, and they are who they say they are.
And I’ll stop there…you should watch the movie, it’s a good one.
My real point in discussing Gattaca is this idea of having the “perfect baby.” I remember attending a conference last year where one of the speakers was discussing the future of healthcare technology. She talked about physician holograms, mobile vitals collection, etc. But she also talked about the way future and the idea of “Designer Babies.” In essence, the same thing as Gattaca, and that the major issue for employers is how to balance the workplace when you have employees who are modified to be stronger, faster, smarter, etc., verses those who were born with basically the luck of the draw.
I’m sure the thought of having a 100% healthy baby appeals to pretty much everyone, right? I mean there’s a chance you’re on this blog because you’re experience is the opposite of that. The big question for me is this: let’s say we had this technology in place and we were able to have two completely healthy babies. What would that look like for me? No clue. Would it be easier? Yes. But I’ve said it a million times that I’ve been learning to turn this CHD thing into a meaningful thing. If everything was smooth sailing, would I be content with mindlessly coasting through life? Or would something else come up to give it meaning? Oh the crazy, crazy questions. What are your thoughts? Will we ever get to the world of “Designer Babies?” And will it spell the end for CHDs and other birth defects? Would we benefit from a “perfect” world?
The next thing that got me thinking is that if this technology suddenly comes to fruition in the very near future, that Nolan – and all my boys – would eventually have to compete in a world with genetically enhanced people. I’d hate to think my child would be marginalized merely because of his heart. Sometimes it’s our flaws that make us interesting, it’s our scars that share our stories.