In November I attended F.ounders, a tech conference in Dublin. A lot of prominent people attended including Elon Musk, Bono, and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston.
A partner at Google Ventures, Wesley Chan, also attended. I asked him how Google Ventures decides which technology trends to invest in. Google Ventures has backed startups like Uber and smart hardware company, Nest.
Chan says his team downloads all of the top apps in the App Store and tests them out. That’s one of their strategies. Another strategy is asking experts from a variety of fields to come in, speak to the firm about future trends, and aid them in brainstorming sessions.
Chan mentioned a genetics expert who had recently stopped by Google Ventures. He opened with a startling statement:
“In the future people will only have sex for fun, not to procreate,” this person said.
Chan explained the reasoning:
Thanks to medical advancements and DNA sequencing, people will soon be able to hand-pick their children’s genes. They’ll be able to select physical traits, like hair and eye colour, as well as talents and health factors. By selecting the perfect genes, parents and scientists will be able to create the healthiest, happiest, most perfect children who have the longest life-expectancy possible.
When that happens, traditional child birth will seem too risky. Expectant mothers risk unforeseen accidents. Or they might consume something harmful. Their children can be born with birth defects or diseases for no apparent reason.
Why leave something as important as your children to chance, when science can ensure they are perfect?
Francis Collins is the director of the National Genome Research Institute. He believes there’s a lot of good that can come from genetic technology. But he also describes how challenging genetic issues — like the ability to hand-pick children — will become.
“We say knowledge is power, but knowledge also carries with it tough decisions and responsibilities for making those decisions,” Collins tells PBS.
“Right now one can test for a small number of things [with genetic technology]. In the future, that list will grow … And the difficulty in making the decisions will also grow. And if we’re having trouble now, hold onto your hat. It’s going to be much more challenging for couples.”
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