It's long been said that our greatest advances are first met with ridicule, then with reluctant acceptance, and then thought to have always existed.
As science develops ever more rapidly, it becomes ever more essential that we don't let our initial "ugh, yuk!" response prevent us from doing a reasoned analysis of proposals.
For example, Julian Savulescu, director of Oxford University's Center for Ethics, wrote, "Our fundamental cognitive abilities, physical ability, even capacity to love could be influenced by changes in human biology." In other words, if society were to allow such research to be funded, parents could eventually use gene therapy to ensure their children had high intelligence, immunity to cancer, and a loving nature.
Many people viscerally cringe at such a prospect, recalling, for example, the Nazi eugenic atrocities. Yet as with all technologies, they can be used for good or evil. The Nazis goal was extermination of all non-Aryans. Allowing parents the freedom to ensure their children are intelligent, cancer-free, and loving is vastly different. And not only would the parents and children benefit, the world would be enriched by billions of wiser, kinder people. The likely result will be fewer wars, a cure for AIDS, not to mention unimaginably amazing iPhones.
Yes, we must address issues such as "Because it will be expensive, only the rich will do it. Won't that further increase the gap between society's haves and have nots?" A reasonable question. Society would have to decide, as with all health care, whether to, like immunizations, make it affordably available to all citizens, to subsidize it for the poor, or like a Lexus, to assert that the rich should be allowed to reap the benefit of their having earned more money without having to fork over more taxes so the poor can get it too. That's a reasoned discussion, not a visceral, antiintellectual "yuk" response. Let the discussion begin.