TR: Creating designer babies seems like a procedure that, at least for a while, will be restricted to the wealthy. Will this be a biological equivalent of the digital divide?
Stock: All these technologies tend to be available initially to the more affluent and more motivated. That’s the way it works with every technology. In vitro fertilization was enormously expensive a decade and a half ago. And now, it’s come down to where a person can go through an IVF procedure for $6,000 to $8,000, which is not inexpensive but is certainly well within the means of a vast number of families in this country. There are about 25,000 kids born by IVF in the U.S. every year. And if you compare it with the cost of a car, it’s affordable.
These early users do us a great service. They test these technologies for us and even pay enormous sums for the privilege. In a way, they function as guinea pigs for the rest of humanity. If you had to think of who you’d like to test these technologies, what better group can you imagine? They’re well informed, highly motivated, eager, hard to coerce, and they are definitely volunteers.
I think the biggest gulfs will not be between the rich and the poor of one generation, but between one generation and the next generation and the next generation after that. This is because what is available today is so very primitive compared to what will be available 25 years from now, and that too will seem primitive after yet a further 25 years.