Making babies in the Year 2045

ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

Huge pools of health data collected over the past generation allow you to pick many of your child's genetic traits. Are you comfortable with that?

The year is 2045. The genomes of four billion humans have been sequenced, creating a huge pool of genetic information accessible to researchers. This process had been well under way in 2019, but accelerated rapidly once many countries realised that understanding human biology was the ultimate big data problem and a key to reducing healthcare costs and enhancing national competitiveness.

Widely sharing deeply personal health information had alarmed privacy advocates. But supporters of sharing genetic data argued convincingly that the benefits to society outweighed the privacy concerns of individuals. The debate may have once seemed abstract. But now you are in a fertility clinic and the issues are fast becoming real.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 21, 2019, with the headline 'Making babies in the Year 2045'. Print Edition | Subscribe