A column in Current Diagnosis of the Catholic Peace Weekly by a Bio-ethicist gives us some thoughts to reflect on and begins with the words of Klaus Schwab, founder, and chairman of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland: "Advances in technology push us to the boundary of new ethics."
Schwab said in his book "The Fourth Industrial Revolution" in which he deals with the following questions. Will the tremendous development of science and technology be used only to treat diseases and recover from injuries, or can it be used to create a better human being? If we choose the latter, wouldn't it be a risk of expanding consumer society by turning our children into custom-made products? What is the definition of a 'better human being, etc?
We may have heard of concerns about customized babies. However, customized babies are likely to appear only in science fiction movies and novels. No room to worry about customized babies since we have difficulties overcoming Covid-19. Is it just Corona? There are more and more problems that we need to solve, such as the climate crisis caused by global warming and the New Normal in the post-corona era. Nevertheless, we need to talk about this issue in some way. Because a custom baby is no longer a story that appears in science fiction movies.
In 2016, Chinese scientists created the first genetically modified human embryo in human history. We can think of the first and the best as good, but not only the scientific community but also the whole world was shocked. Two years later, even before the shock went away, a genetically modified twin was born in China. And Western society struggled to draw up guidelines to apply genetic modification technology to human embryos, perhaps because of the impatience that it may lose its lead to China.
Of course, the voices of criticism were also loud. But starting to make guidelines means that we will now practically use genetic modification technology directly in human embryos. However, by distinguishing restrictions and allowances for their use, it seems to be ethical at first glance. In the meantime, it seems clear that governments will actively carry out clinical trials that modify the genes of human embryos and implant them in the uterus. But not many people will know about this. While everyone is making all-out efforts to overcome the Corona 19 crisis, it is proceeding quietly.
Paul Knoepfler a professor at the University of California School of Medicine, says a baby born through genetic modification, whether for medical reasons or simple parental choices, becomes an advanced new human being. He explains that all humans are special, but the reason why genetically modified babies are special is that genetic design makes them healthier or better babies. He then says that the meaning of what is "better" reflects social perspectives. At this point, let's think about what is the definition of a 'better human being that Klaus Schwab mentioned?
As Knoepfler said, if the meaning of 'better' reflects the social perspective, let's think about where that view comes from. There may be many factors, but the first thing that comes to mind is the Internet Global Companies present us with algorithms that predict consumer tastes.
The development of science and technology in the future is likely to put us on the border of new ethics in various ways. But within that boundary, a customized baby is coming. This is not just a question of whether parents can arbitrarily modify their children's genes. We need to wake up and see where the consciousness of 'excellent' and 'better' on what we understand 'humanity' to mean will be going?