One of the most intriguing examples of gene editing is its power to “enhance” physical and cosmetic characteristics in humans. Darnovsky summarizes the social implications of this technology in his question, “Should arranging for children with financially or socially ‘efficient’ varieties of height and complexion be considered medical intervention?” (Darnovsky). It isn’t hard to foresee a day when the culturally subjective attributes of physical stature and intelligence can be customized with CRISPR. When that happens, who will decide which characteristics are good and which are bad? It’s unlikely, but perhaps humans will become a supremely intelligent perfectly proportioned utopian species. Its more likely that nations use genetic editing for a racial, military, or a propagandistic agenda. Both outcomes appear closer than ever before. Understanding the complete social, geopolitical, and economic ramifications of human germline modification requires time we don’t have.
Gene editing for the purpose of eradicating disease and suffering should be done in my opinion. If the technology to solve diseases and ailments like AIDS or cystic fibrosis exists, then not employing the gene editing could be considered unethical, even when acknowledging the possibility of long-term germline side effects. Harris is correct when he writes that “denial” of gene editing “costs human lives, day after day” (Harris). However, choosing aesthetic, designer characteristics in future children is where I personally draw the line. While such technology may be voluntary unlike eugenics of the past, their similarities conjure dark dystopian ideas in my mind. But in the end, it doesn’t matter where I draw the line, what social reservations scholars have, or even where large nations place regulations. Dr. Jennifer Doudna is right when she says, “people will use the technology whether we know enough about it or not” (Specter, 5). Human embryos have already been edited, and some lab in Korea, Area 51, or who knows where will use CRISPR on human subjects. In fact, they may already have.