Re: the "not to be born" right

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed Nov 22 2000 - 04:18:17 MST writes:

> Anders Sandberg, <>, writes:
> > Hmm, so if neobioconservatives hardwire their children for a "natural"
> > lifespan and add in some genetic diseases to give them a taste of the
> > human condition, we should applaud it? After all, things like that
> > will increase the range of human variation, and it may turn out that
> > it is actually a good idea as suggested by one of the futures
> > sf-stories in Nature, where a massive epidemic wiped out everybody
> > without Tay Sachs-genes).
> I suppose that if that future came to pass, then in fact people would
> applaud that devotion to genetic diversity in the past. However from
> our present perspective we don't know that this will happen.

Being heterozygote for cystic fibrosis apparently confers an advantage
against cholera. But if somebody tried marketing a cholera medication
that as a side effect had the effects of CF (including the much
shortened lifespan) I guess no agency would approve it and nearly
nobody would want to take it. There are better ways of treating

My point above is more about whether we should accept all changes than
whether a certain change *could* be beneficial. Being born with a
cross on your forehead (due to parents having odd religious views)
*could* be beneficial in some circumstances, but most likely not and
would impose quite a bit on the child.

> > Taking risks is necessary, but taking unnecessary risks is
> > irrational. The same goes for genetic modifications; I really doubt
> > many parents would select highly risky treatments for their
> > children-to-be. That is not really the issue here, but how to handle
> > the fact that if parents select genes they might create initial
> > conditions that are adverse to the person that later develops. Should
> > there exist some form of feedback or compensation system so that
> > children can express their rights once they have become persons? It is
> > not an issue of banning certain forms of radical changes, but rather
> > making parents aware of the different potential costs of different
> > changes.
> What about a parent who takes his child into space on some kind of
> irreversible journey (say, a traditional SF generation ship to the stars)?
> Should children conceived on such a trip be able to sue their parents?
> Should the children on the Mayflower have sued their parents for exposing
> them to the hardships of the New World? I don't think we can categorize
> such journeys into necessary vs unnecessary risks.

Isn't this a very different problem?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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