Op-Ed

In the fall of 2006, a BBC wire report speculated that global economic inequality and rapid advances in genetic engineering would some day combine to split mankind into two subspecies. "The descendants of the genetic upper classes would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the 'underclass' humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures." The BBC was careful to put its sci-fi scenario far into the future-100,000 years down the road. But whether or not such Wellsian predictions are realized, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: The day will come, perhaps even within a decade, when at least a subset of the human race will have the ability to control key aspects of its own evolution.

Although individuals with superhuman capacities have long been the domain of religious texts and science fiction, in the not-so-distant future, in the immortal words of the 1970s series The Six Million Dollar Man, we very well could make people "better, stronger, faster" than their unenhanced counterparts. But while the fictional Steve Austin was modified...