Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"Let the Chinese Sort It Out"

Warner Bros. Blade Runner image 
I absolutely love this sort of stuff. Absolutely. I've lived to see more than my share of techno-miracles, but the pace is geometric, isn't it? I also read today that a new iPhone has 270,000 times the computing power of the Voyager spacecraft that recently left the solar system.

Here now there's an effort in China to allow the selection of human embryos based upon intellectual qualities. Read it in the English tabloid, The Daily Mirror.

I suppose that's just a ramped up version of folks from Downton Abbey recognizing that one shouldn't marry out of class. Poor Tom Branson.

Of course, this gets a person thinking about all sorts of stuff. For example, those Red Commies are now full-blown rapacious capitalists, right down to the embryonic stage. That's fine. A free market is a democratic stand-by. Well, let's say regulated free market.

Back to the Chinese: according to the article, there seems to be no socio-ethical rejection of this sort of thing—breeding up a math whiz. There isn't that sort of acceptance in America, but as long as we stick to artificial insemination and blind chance, we seem to have no great chagrin. The Chinese are apparently taking it a few steps further, seeing no ethical problems in selecting the specific embryo. That's another thing interesting to me because I have been raised—my morality and ethics are based upon—westernized Judeo-Christian principles.

But what's the degree of morality between an American woman choosing artificial insemination (for whatever reason) and analyzing the intellectual qualities of the sperm donor when compared to a Chinese woman analyzing the quality of an embryo? 

A rude suggestion might be that the Chinese will need plenty of smart folks since that nation (and many of its neighbors) seem to be the earth's major polluters currently. Are the Big Thinkers in China contemplating a race between human smarts and human pollution? Maybe so.

Two books I reviewed recently have posited the idea of wiping out a majority of the human race in order to preserve the planet. Both were novels, idle speculation, of course, and both offered the lowly virus as a ... cleansing agent.

I don't like pollution. I am ashamed of the Pacific garbage patch. I worry about polar ice melt and the injection of too much chemical-laden exhaust into the atmosphere. On the other hand, I am on what I infer as the Chinese side when it comes to the question: I think human technology will win out, although I am a bit of a pessimist and think the earth may more resemble the landscape in Blade Runner than Hawaii at the end of it all.

Long ago, a young fellow moved to a farm in Missouri, and his father purchased a few milk cows. No big dollars then, those cows. A few hundred dollars, perhaps. Then the cows gave milk and the milk got sold. And it came to pass that the young fellow learned his father could call a man, and any one of the cows could be impregnated by One of the Best Dairy Bulls in the World. Yes, it cost. But it didn't cost as much as buying and maintaining a bull. And the dairy cow's offspring, were it female, would be the heifer of One of the Best Dairy Bulls in the World, and the little heifer would grow up to give much milk after it too was bred to Another of the Best Dairy Bulls in the World.

And the young fellow was bemused, not realizing that things would become evermore amazing.

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