“We have entered the eugenics century” according to Laurent Alexandre, head of a DNA sequencing company and advocate of transhumanism, in an interview for the www.usbek-et-rica.fr blog.
The “turning point in history” is marked by the arrival of new prenatal screening tests (by detecting the entire genome as opposed to certain chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome). With the growing desire to create the perfect child, which is intrinsically linked to technological advances, Laurent Alexandre predicts the “disappearance of all mentally handicapped enmbryos” (stage 1). This would be followed by the “inevitable” phase – the eradication of diseases “which kill children before 15 years of age, such as serious myopathies” (stage 2). The selection of “good” embryos will lead to the disappearance of genetic diseases (stage 3). Finally, the last stage will involve modifying the actual embryo through gene therapy (stage 4). This will be the final stage because, at this point, “the baby will no longer depend on the ovules and sperm of its mother and father”.
There is evidence that we are heading towards intellectual eugenics which is pushing ahead in the light of progress in artificial intelligence. “Moreover, China is already carrying out research into genetic variants which will promote the highest IQs. The Beijing Genomics Institute has been involved in the DNA sequencing of 2,200 individuals with an IQ of at least 160”. Where will this intellectual spin-off, which is already in the pipeline, actually lead wonders Laurent Alexandre with reference to the case of Down syndrome? “No-one can answer this question to date”. This is basically because the State has little insight into these subjects, even “schizophrenia”, since eugenics is viewed as a crime on the one hand and is its own worst enemy on the other hand because of routine prenatal screening for syndromes such as Edward’s, Patau and Down syndrome. Similarly, there are no forecasts in the health sector. The first impact of this shortcoming: “Currently, up to the twelfth week of pregnancy, there is no longer any limit to abortion. During this time interval, a decision can be taken to abort because the child does not have blue eyes and the public authorities have no say in the matter…” Laurent Alexandre is therefore stating the case for medical futurology because, generally speaking, “the medical profession is far from equipped to respond to the challenges raised by the NBICs (nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, computer technology and cognitive sciences)”.
On the same subject, Gènéthique invites you to (re)read the interview in the Revue des deux mondes (Review of two worlds) between Jacques Testart and Jean-Marie Le Méné “L’humanisme peut-il faire reculer l’eugénisme?” (Can humanism keep eugenics at bay?) (2011).
www.usbek-et-rica.fr (blog) 29/09/2014