Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Eugenics the Draka way



We arrive at "The Domination" book 3, The Stone Dogs, and at page 632 of the collected edition. Yolande is discussing with her eugenicist the cloning of her recently-KIA best friend Myfwany (the clone will be called Gwen). Since the Draka are pretty good at life sciences, the eugenicist is able to suggest some improvements.
"See, on personality,, we're still not sure about much of the finer tuning. We can set the gross limits - aggressive versus passive, fo' example, or the general level of libido. Beyond that, the interactions with the environment are too complex. With your friend, most of the parameters are well within the guidelines anyway. So the heritable elements of character will be identical to an unmodified clone.

"Next, we eliminate a number of faults. Fo' example"—he paused to reference the computer—"your friend had allergies. We get rid of that. Likewise, potential back trouble . . . would've been farsighted in old age . . . menstrual cramps . . . any problems?"

"No."

Even with feedback and meditation, those times had been terrible for Myfwany; Yolande had only been able to suffer in sympathy. The child - Gwen, she reminded herself - Gwen would never know that useless pain.

"Next, we come to a number of physical improvements. Mostly by selectin' within the normal range of variation. Fo' example, we know the gene groups involved with general intelligence . . . Genius is mo' elusive, but we can raise the testable IQ to an average of 143 with the methods available. Fo' your clone, that would mean about fifteen percent up; also, we've been able to map fo' complete memory control, autistic idiot-savant mathematical concentration, and so forth. On the athletic side, we build up the heart-lung system, tweak the hemoglobin ratios, alter some of the muscle groups and their attachments, thicken an' strengthen the bones, eliminate the weaknesses of ligaments—no mo' knee injuries and so fo'th." ...

"Doctor, that's entirely satisfactory."
Did I mention that the Draka are a master race who have conquered half the world and subjugated everyone else as slave-serfs with the utmost cruelty? Naturally the Draka have some plans for their always-dangerous subjects ...
She paused. "Just out of curiosity, what's planned fo' the serfs along these lines?"

He relaxed. "Oh, much less. That was debated at the highest levels of authority, an' they decided to do very little beyond selectin' within the normal human range. Same sort of cleanup on things like hereditary diseases. Average the height about 50 millimeters lower than ours. No IQs below 90, which'll bring the average up to 110. No improvements or increase in lifespan so they'll be closer to the original norm than the Race. Some selection within the personality spectrum: toward gentle, emotional, nonaggressive types. About what you'd expect."

He laughed.

"An' a chromosome change, so that they're not interfertile with us any mo'; the boys can run rampant among the wenches as always without messin' up our plans."

"Yes," she said again, interest drifting elsewhere. "When can we do it?"

"Tomorrow would be fine, Tetrarch. The process of modifyin' the ova is mostly automatic. Viral an' enzymic, actually . . . Tomorrow at 1000 hours?"
Naturally a wench-serf will be the surrogate mother.

Just because the Draka are in favour of something doesn't mean it's necessarily wrong. What Yolande proposes for future-Draka Gwen is an example of benevolent, or positive eugenics, improving the life-prospects of your child-to-be. Every time you size up a prospective mate for qualities of appearance, physical abilities, health or intellect you are, in your amateur fashion, trying to do the same. We're all in the game for designer babies.

What the Draka intend for the serfs, however, is coercive, or negative eugenics as practised by the Nazis (and many other countries and governments before the second world war). In the modern, liberal West we do not put up our hands and vote for that kind of thing.

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Razib Khan has a post just up discussing how soon we can expect human genomic editing.

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