Paul Knoepfler: The ethical dilemma of designer babies
Paul Knoepfler - Biologist
Paul Knoepfler is a biomedical scientist and writer focusing on stem cells and genetics. Full bio
to go down that road together?
friends and coworkers
Marianne, next to you,
consciously made that decision,
they kind of look down on you.
a Luddite or a technophobe.
who lives right next door,
designer baby with numerous upgrades.
hired to do this
into a whole panel of human embryos.
that little tiny embryo, Jenna's embryo,
in your living room
each other for years now,
she's smarter than you,
a whole new generation
than their parents' generation,
of health conditions,
this sort of unsettling feeling,
just not quite right about Jenna,
about other GM kids that you've met.
in the newspaper earlier this week
who were born as designer babies
from Jenna's family.
to a special school,
than your daughter Marianne,
your family into a disarray.
to kiss her goodnight,
even be my friend anymore?"
this imagined 2030 story,
that I may have put some of you
frame of reference. Right?
in Halloween mode of thinking.
a possible reality for us,
on what we decide to do today.
kind of thinking in sci-fi mode,
had a huge shock earlier this year,
doesn't even know about it.
of genetically modified human embryos.
this new CRISPR technology.
they sort of cracked the door ajar
are going to run with this technology
may hold up your hands and say,
and create a designer baby."
including my country, the US,
so in theory, you could do it.
this year that resonates in this area,
not so far from here over in the UK.
has been the strictest country
of genetically modified humans
to prevent a rare kind of genetic disease.
these events are pushing us
about this CRISPR technology.
that we're all more familiar with,
is similar to the technologies
a genetic Swiss army knife.
is kind of like a magnifying glass
the genetic code in that location.
on the scene just three years ago,
so freaking exciting to scientists,
and we use it in my own lab,
is going to go that extra step
literally have this in hand today,
in designer babies.
going on with CRISPR.
now do genetic modifications
and cost millions of dollars
for a couple thousand bucks,
so much on science.
to be driving them.
or the chase for a profit.
for designer babies.
if we go back two centuries,
profoundly have impacted humanity,
a social Darwinism at work in our world,
of this CRISPR technology
one century to the last century
and he was born here in 1929.
had little baby Peter,
of the eugenics equation.
home for generations,
but they were heartbroken,
ever really got over leaving Vienna.
gentler, positive eugenics,
on trying to improve people,
of this new eugenics,
to make it happen.
about making better people.
about a human being?
we think we could be better.
more hair here, instead of baldness.
we could make those things happen,
in our children,
would be these risks.
to individuals as well.
healthier using genetic modification,
we could make them sicker.
important genetic modification research
the designer baby route,
an interest in genetic modification.
like they have lower health care costs,
may start trying to compel their citizens
the birth of 400 million human beings.
could be something that governments push.
are thought to be fashionable,
the new glitterati,
that we really could control?
about genetic modification,
or invoked more than anything else,
and all this other stuff.
and we think about it in the human context
costume their children genetically,
a Frankenstein 2.0 kind of situation?
it's going to get to that extreme.
hacking the human code,
in terms of what might come of that.
of transformative science
basically go out of control
and that is in vitro fertilization.
Louise Brown was born,
five million IVF babies have been born,
in four decades,
from a new technology
and designer babies.
we make in the next few months,
of genetically modified humans.
because if we, you in the audience, or I,
be genetically modified, and so on,
with human genetic modification?
creating genetically modified people,
and too unpredictable.
for me to say that in public,
self-regulation and things like that.
who not only disagree with me,
full speed ahead,
to follow in the next few months,
there may be no moratorium.
of the problem that we have
applying to humans,
this is a revolution,
in very personal ways.
is actually to change that
that there will be a role for the public
to 2030 again, that imagined story,
we make, again, today --
the next year or so,
is spreading like wildfire.
the sort of traditional route,
the place like mine.
are kind of swinging like this,
but compare them, right?
they're a better student,
you need to wipe.
might you make next time?
About the speaker:Paul Knoepfler - Biologist
Paul Knoepfler is a biomedical scientist and writer focusing on stem cells and genetics.
Why you should listen
Dr. Paul Knoepfler loves stem cells. He is working to figure out how we use safely them to treat many diseases and how stem cells sometimes turn to the dark side to cause cancer. Over the years he has made key discoveries about how stem cells and cancer are programmed. Now he is especially interested in how to hack these cells to control their behavior, including using powerful CRISPR genetic modification technology.
Knoepfler has also been a leading voice in the discussion about how CRISPR could be used to make designer babies and the risks of going down that path. He is a professor of cell biology and anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine in California, where he both does research and teaches. In addition, he is a prolific writer including his popular science blog, The Niche, and two books: Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide and GMO Sapiens: The Life-Changing Science of Designer Babies. He is excited about contributing to efforts to build an innovative, global community of interconnected people with a shared passion for biomedical science and battling fake science. Knoepfler’s outspoken, approachable nature in tackling some of the most transformative questions in science has made him a go-to scientist for journalists and ordinary people across the globe.
Paul Knoepfler | Speaker | TED.com