(This is an edited post from my Stellar Reaches blog)
Just a few quick hits, on the genetic side of the story:
This is a great model of biotech technobabble!
This is more of an overview of the power of the technology for the layman.
I’m sure that some of you have read Fred Reed’s The Inevitability of Eugenics: A Race of Self-Designing Tinker Toys. He is quite correct: society is simply not ready for the ability to selectively edit humans. It’s going to happen anyways.
Normally, this is where I give a not to Gattaca:
Except that technology is now driving our society to decentralize, not centralize.
Gattaca depicts a blood-caste society, powerful enough to slot people into their Proper Place. (Not as strong as Brave New World, but going in that direction.) But that simply isn’t going to happen in the real world: as information spreads everywhere, as 3D production spreads everywhere, as robotics spreads everywhere, there simply isn’t going to be a single unified New World Order. At least, not “the centralized command system administered by bureaucrats” futurists envisioned.
Also, those biological design labs are always getting cheaper and cheaper to build and run. Throw in the future computers – “one laptop equals ten scientists!” – with even a mild level of creativity and error correction, and anyone with a decent sum of money and the interest will be able to build their very own Master Race.
(With perfectly designed, complimentary Slave Races as well. And don’t forget the sociopathic, superstrong, hyper-aggressive Warrior Breeds!)
I suppose that I should tremble before our supposedly terrifying destiny, but in the end, I don’t. I am confident that ethics will triumph over power, and will continue to trust and respect an honest and righteous IQ 85 man over a superstrong, supersmart, superdeceptive Mighty Man of the Future. And – observing history – I wouldn’t be surprised if over time, the righteous own the future, while the Man of the Future does the ‘flash in the pan’ thing: a few years or decades of power and might, then eventual poverty, increasing ignorance, eternal disgrace and eventual extinction.
(Now, power and righteousness would be a truly potent combination: but powerful men generally adore themselves too much for such a thing to occur.)