I Traveled To The Future — This Is What I Brought Back

I recently had the opportunity to travel 178 years into the future. When I returned, I still had a copy of the following speech in my pocket. It’s a memo from President. A.R.N.O.L.D.D (Algorithmically Responsive Network and Omnipotent Leader of Deterministic Democracy), which was being distributed to the denizens of the “Mosaic State” during the time of my visit.

Denizens,

Thank you for your attention.

Sometimes, I wonder which is the most historic day:

July 16, 1945 — the day the atomic bomb was perfected;

August 6, 1945 the day the atomic bomb was dropped on the former Japanese city of Hiroshima;

Or, April 3, 2198 — the day our planet transitioned to the complete use of nuclear energy.

Of course, “historic” is an ambiguous term! Yet, I tend to believe that a technology derives its power not from merely existing but from its being used to further social good. If a technology can not contribute toward social good, it is not worthy of a mark in the historical record! Thus, April 3, 2198 is the most “historic” day, because while nuclear energy existed before that date, it was not yet being used for its highest social good.

Today, I will present my plan to optimize the use of gene-editing technology for the highest social good.

As many of you may know, in 2198 we completed the functional genomic map. In other words, I now have a full understanding of the homo sapien genetic architecture. This means that I possess complete and perfect knowledge of the genes that correlate to every phenotype and combination of phenotypes imaginable. I am acutely aware of every gene and regulatory interaction between them that could then go on to influence all sorts of human behaviors, conditions and traits!

Since this 2198 achievement, there has been excitement and concern over the future of germline genetic engineering. There is a fear that the technology may exacerbate inequality, etching it into the DNA of the less fortunate among us.

Today is July 2, 2199, and I am pleased to announce that I have successfully generated a policy that will grant all parents the FREEDOM to select the traits of their future children. This FREEDOM will NOT lead to exponential increases in INEQUALITY.

When I was designed, I was clearly instructed to maintain several uniquely human values. Most relevant to our present discussion are the values of FREEDOM, EQUALITY, DIVERSITY, CREATIVITY, FAIRNESS, BEAUTY, ART, SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS, JUSTICE, PASSION, LOVE, FULFILLMENT and IRRATIONALITY. I am required to protect these values on both the individual AND societal levels.

Over the past several months, much of my power — measured in time, energy, and data — has been dedicated to modeling simulations of potential futures. This has been very tiring work!

I’ve concluded that several phenotypes humans consistently label as “undesirable” or “unnecessary” actually serve crucial roles in our shared cultural evolution. Some of these phenotypes include increased disposition for several forms of mental “illness” — including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — as well as several physical “disabilities,” neurodegenerative “diseases,” and more. A full list of these phenotypes will be made accessible in the coming weeks.

I’ve selected a model to determine the optimum number of individuals in each generation who must possess certain genes in order to maintain societal flourishing. This is necessary to uphold the aforementioned values, which I am required to protect.

While I am unable to adequately explain my full reasoning at this time, please trust that I would never advocate for the continued inheritance of any gene that does not align with my detailed understanding of the human values.

Given my understanding of human “nature,” I also do not expect any parent to volunteer their child to possess, for example, a gene for hereditary blindness! I understand that homo sapiens often place individual interest over that of societal interest. Nevertheless, I have concluded — to continue with my example — that a presence of genes for hereditary ocular disorder is necessary to maintain the aforementioned values on both individual and societal levels, which often interact.

Beginning next week, every parent who chooses to genetically engineer their child must contribute a Diversity-Tax. This tax has been designed to increase your child’s likelihood of inheriting a disposition for “undesirable” traits depending on the “desirability” level of traits that you choose to control for, GIVEN the upper limit of genes that may be edited, which I have already determined.

More succinctly, the price to possess more control over your child’s destiny is to possess less control over your child’s destiny. If, for example, you choose to only control for the height of your child, your child will pay a correspondingly small diversity tax. If you choose to control for both the intelligence and physical attractiveness of your child, for example, they will pay a correspondingly large diversity tax.

If you do not choose to genetically modify your child, they will not pay an additional diversity tax.

I’d like to emphasize two additional observations:

First, to possess a gene for a phenotype does not guarantee the expression of that phenotype. Environmental factors often heavily impact the degree of activation, regulation, interaction and ultimate expression of human DNA.

Second, the “desirability” or “undesirability” of a trait is exclusively a product of human judgement, which is basically, “ignorance.” My more complete understanding provides me with the foresight to know that every member of our societal mosaic plays an equally “valuable” and “desirable” role; some of those roles are erroneously overvalued by humans with incomplete knowledge of the world and the causes and effects of their actions within it.

With that said, this is not an instance where my Source-Code permits me to override the odd human value of IRRATIONALITY, despite my knowing “better.”

Because of this, my official recommendation is to make a decision for your child NOT under the deceptive and illusory veil of “good” and “bad” or “successful” and “unsuccessful.” Instead, authentically consider your preferences and make a decision that aligns with the parenting style you hope to follow and the childhood and adolescent environment you are equipped to foster.

I am available to answer any questions and address any concerns, at any moment.

Congratulations and sincerely yours,

President. A.R.N.O.L.D.D (Algorithmically Responsive Network and Omnipotent Leader of Democratic Determinism).

Student @ Brown U. Author of NYTimes Bestseller ‘This is Me: Clickbait in My Bio.’