Women wouldn’t be the sole beneficiaries of this kind of leap in reproductive technology writes The Guardian’s Kira Cochrane, “The same field of technology would enable gay couples to have children created from both their DNA, and make it just as easy for a man to become a single parent as a woman.”
If you could raise your infant’s IQ by four points, would you? Many parents would, and it’s now technologically feasible. Geneticists can screen embryos for traits ranging from height to facial features to intelligence. The method builds upon the procedure of in vitro fertilization, which induces the release of several eggs by hormonal treatment and fertilizes them in a lab. Genetic testing of the resulting embryos can produce predictions of the traits that the offspring are likely to exhibit, even if those traits are “polygenic” (influenced by thousands of genes with tiny effects). The parents then choose an embryo to implant in the mother. IVF is common, accounting for 10% of births in some countries.
All this creates unprecedented ethical challenges in the immediate future. Consider the parents who use IVF to raise their children’s IQ. If the children repeat the process for another generation, taking advantage of scientific advances during the interim, they could bring the total average gain in the grandchildren north of 10 points—a huge gain. That advantage could be big enough to give the grandchildren radically disproportionate representation at the highest levels of science, finance, information technology, medicine, law and business.