The Vatican is teaming up with Microsoft on an academic prize to promote ethics in artificial intelligence.
Pope Francis met privately on Wednesday with Microsoft President Brad Smith and the head of a Vatican scientific office that promotes Catholic Church positions on human life.
The Vatican said Smith and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Academy for Life told Francis about the international prize for an individual who has successfully defended a dissertation on ethical issues involving artificial intelligence.
The winner will receive 6,000 euros ($6,900) and an invitation to Microsoft’s Seattle headquarters. The theme of the Pontifical Academy’ of Life’s s 2020 plenary assembly is AI.
Chinese medical documents posted online this month said (here and here), a team at the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, has been recruiting couples in an effort to create the first gene-edited babies. They planned to eliminate a gene called CCR5 in hopes of rendering the offspring resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera.
Designer pets” are already within reach; mice have been turned green. Beagles have been doubled in muscle mass. Pigs have been shrunk to the size of cocker spaniels with “designer fur.” Woolly mammoths are being attempted.
Illustration: Chelsea Beck/GMG
They are predicting that half of the population with decent health care will–have eggs grown from human skin and fertilized with sperm, then have the entire genome of about 100 embryo samples sequenced, peruse the highlights, and pick the best model to implant.
traits could changed in a designer baby
Embryo screening involves a process called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Embryos are created by in-nitro fertilization and grown to the eight-cell stage, at which point one or two cells are removed. Scientists then examine the DNA of these cells for defects, and only normal embryos are replaced in the womb.
Three-parent babies are human offspring with three genetic parents, created through a specialized form of In vitro fertilization in which the future baby’s mitochondrial DNA comes from a third party. The procedure is intended to prevent mitochondrial diseases including muscular dystrophy and some heart and liver conditions.
Pros and Cons of Designer Babies
Reduces risk of genetic diseases
Reduces risk of inherited medical conditions
Keep pace with others doing it
Better chance the child will succeed in life
Better understanding of genetics
Increased life span
Can give a child genes that the parents do not carry
Prevent next generation of family from getting characteristics/diseases
Termination of embryos
Could create a gap in society
Possibility of damage to the gene pool
Baby has no choice in the matter
Genes often have more than one use
Geneticists are not perfect
Loss of Individuality
Other children in family could be affected by parent’s decision
Only the rich can afford it
Some scientists disagreed over whether certain types of gene-editing would be important for helping patients, with one prominent researcher contending the technology would not often be needed, while another described dire current clinical needs for it.
CRISPR is a powerful technology that allows editing—by way of replacing or repairing—of multiple genes at once in animal, plant and human cells. This biological tool could help unlock understanding of basic human biology and also help patients in need of medical care. However, This method has also sparked new ethical controversy.
Gene editing could include altering genes in one person—say to treat disease or make a cosmetic change—but, more controversially, it could also include making changes to the germ line that would then alter the genome for an individual’s children, grandchildren and the following generations, with potentially unknown repercussions.
Harvard and Brown universities researchers warn that in the future scientists may be able to create embryos from skin cells. It is already common for women and couples using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to choose the sex of the embryos being implanted. This new “motherless” technique would be another step in the progression of genetic engineering and a greater departure from natural conception, gestation, and birth.
Bioethicist Hank Greely says that” not only will IVF be easier and cheaper, but the rapidly developing field of genetics will make divorce sex from reproduction. Babies will be grown in labs: “What I think is going to happen, we’ll be able to take some skin cells from anyone and turn them into any cell type… I think we’ll actually see a world where most babies born to people with good health coverage will be conceived in the lab.”
The Rise of GMO Babies From Three Parents
IT’S A BOY Fertility doctor John Zhang holds a baby boy (face blurred for privacy) who is the world’s first child created by a mitochondrial replacement technique called spindle transfer. Such children have been dubbed “three-parent babies.”
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the US has combined both concepts and shown it is possible to grow human tissue within a pig. The achievement took four years, 1,500 pig embryos and the stem cells from 40 people.
Now the scientists are planning to genetically edit the pig embryos so they cannot produce organs in the hope that the gaps will be filled by human DNA, in the same way as in the mice experiments.
Imagine a human with rat and pig organs what type of treament or backup will physicians use to treat these hybrid humans when something goes wrong? Will the create Hybrid meds also?