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Gray-scale close-up of a compass. pointing north.

In a few short years, the parents of a newborn will know the baby’s full genome — every last secret buried in the bawling kid’s genetic code.

And in a few years, we will be good enough to reliably edit that genetic code, says one of Nebraska’s foremost scientists.

We may genetically rid that baby of Hunter syndrome. We may make her less likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life.

We also will have the gene editing tools to make her taller. Or stronger. Or smarter.

“Our technology is evolving much faster than our society’s ethical norms,” says Dr. Karoly Mirnics, “It’s time to ask a question. Are we running into a brave new world without knowing where we are running, or why we are running, or how?”

Mirnics runs the Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He’s a cutting-edge molecular neuro-biologist credited with identifying a gene that makes people more likely to become schizophrenic. In other words, he’s no dummy.

I sat down to talk to Mirnics and Dr. Omar Abdul-Rahman, another...