[ExI] article about Rafal and his daughter

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Fri Jun 24 22:32:05 UTC 2022

Quoting Jason Resch:

> To play devil's advocate:

So in this case, is the devil the plaintiff or the defendant? ;)

> 1. These ethics implicitly assume we know better than nature. Some things
> we may interpret as a disease may offer survival advantages for the group,
> or in different environmental conditions different from those we are
> presently in, and by eliminating those genes we may inadvertently weaken
> the survivability of the species.

Nature doesn't have an ethic and it doesn't really know anything. It  
just throws genes against the wall to see what sticks. Genetic testing  
and selection of embryos doesn't necessarily eliminate genes, it just  
allows for parents to deliberately speculate on genes rather than just  
getting stuck with whatever hand nature has dealt them.

> 2. The economic pressures it will impose on those who refuse to genetically
> select their children (e.g. as in gattaca), it indirectly removes the
> choice, or at minimum imposes a very high cost for refusal, for all parents.

What made gattaca dystopian was not the technology, but that society  
used it to discriminate against people. Discrimination is made no  
worse when based on comprehensive genetic testing, than when based on  
superficial traits like skin color. If it becomes a problem, then laws  
can be passed to combat it just as has happened with race  
discrimination. In the USA, HIPAA already somewhat protects people  
from this sort of thing.

> 3. It will reduce the number of unique people and genes that will exist
> across the multiverse. If the same deterministic algorithm is used to find
> the best sperm and egg sample between any two parents, it drastically
> shrinks the diversity of unique individuals who will be born somewhere in
> reality. Is this a good thing? Not sure but it I can see downsides to it,
> mostly relating to the difference in trade offs between "exploration and
> exploitation" or "diversity of experiences vs. quality of experiences".

If everybody used the same algorithm to select their embryos, then yes  
lack of diversity might become a problem. But why would everybody use  
the same algorithm? They certainly should have options available to  

> There are surely certain universally bad diseases, like fatal early
> childhood ones. But how abd where do we draw the line?
> How do we determine when there are no compensatory benefits for what some
> consider a disease? E.g. if some genes cause someone to develop rashes
> easily, a dermatologist might say it's a disease, but an immunologist might
> later find their overactive immune system gives them immunity to a wide
> range of certain novel diseases. Can we accurately weigh such unknowns?

Perhaps that is a good reason to keep a gene repository so that we  
don't inadvertently discard any useful alleles.

> Gene manipulation of our own species is an area where we must tread
> cautiously as our power vastly outstrips our wisdom in this area, and some
> bells can't be unrung.

Why? Nature certainly doesn't tread carefully; nature throws  
asteroids, super-volcanoes, and gamma ray bursts at her children.  
99.9% percent of all species that have ever evolved have gone extinct.  
With the odds stacked against us like that, I would think that we  
would be trying all sorts of desperate measures to try to increase our  
survivability. If that means genetically modifying ourselves into  
dozens of subspecies, then viva la difference!

Stuart LaForge

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