The book, titled “The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction,” was authored by Henry T. Greely (an accomplished law and medical professor at Stanford University) and published by Harvard University Press.
According to Greely, stem cell research and in vitro fertilization have made “sexless reproduction not just possible but cheap and easy.” What’s more, despite the questionable ethics of “designer babies,” Greely argues that this kind of sexless reproduction will soon be perfectly legal, and rapidly become the preferred method for most parents.
Rather than shaking the sheets, Greely claims that parents of the future will rather unromantically submit sperm, eggs, and skin cells to a professional, who will then create an embryo with the best characteristics from the DNA of the two parents.
“Prospective parents will be told as much as they wish to know about the genetic makeup of dozens of embryos,” Greely writes, “and they will pick one or two for implantation, gestation, and birth. And it will be safe, lawful, and free.”
The last word of that statement is important to keep in mind. Talk of designer babies traditionally comes with the ethical concerns of the rich getting richer, and a “master race” being formed thanks to the monied classes being able to genetically ensure healthier, smarter offspring. But if the service were to be free, everyone would be able to reap the benefits of having children that are immune to diseases, or who have above-average intelligence.
“We won’t be able to say: ‘this child is in the top 1 percent of intelligence,'” Greely claims. “We will probably be able to say: ‘this child has a 60 percent chance of being in the top half.'”
Although all of this is surely scary, Greely’s vision of the future might make sense. For one, with this new kind of reproduction, hereditary diseases could be phased out of the human population.
The good news? If Greely’s prediction comes true, it doesn’t mean people are going to give up having sex for fun any time soon.