Eugenics refers to the idea of humans controlling which genes they pass on to their offspring. The reasoning behind this is that the human race, by circumventing natural selection through its use of technology, is in a state of gradual genetic decline. (See Did technology kill evolution?)

I am personally all for eugenics, but there are a TON of problems that go along with it, and it could really only be implemented sucessfully with a lot of effort and money put in by the human community at large. I believe that if we can put into motion a concerted effort to clean up the gene pool, we should. It'd be better for our children and for the human race in general... if we do it right.

Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to do it wrong. To get a good argument against eugenics, watch the movie Gattaca. In Gattaca, the world has embraced eugenics. They don't do it the barbaric Nazi way, i.e. sterilizing those thought to be genetically unfit to bear children. Instead, they have an intimate knowledge of the human genome, and they can weed out a number of fertilized human eggs to find the most genetically healthy ones, then implant them into the mother. They can pick the sex, hair and eye color, physical build, personality traits, and aptitudes. Sounds all nice until you realize that, with the price of healthcare, only the well-off can afford this procedure, so lower economic classes are forced to do it the "old-fashioned way." This effectively splits society... not into black and white, or male or female, but "valid or invalid" (read: Genetically cultivated or freeborn.) The "invalids" can't get good jobs, good educations, or good places to live simply because of their genetic makeup.

So, in order for eugenics to be done right, it has to be a worldwide effort that encompasses people of all economic status equally. There can be no lines drawn, or it will only divide humanity even more.

Obviously, at this time, this is all a pipe dream. Genetic manipulation services are the last thing most third-world countries are worried about. So if eugenics becomes a reality, it's obvious who's going to see the benefits first... the rich.

So that's the state of things to come. The technology to do it successfully is already in our grasp. I remember a news story from when I was in high school that a couple of people had their zygotes tested for certain hereditary defects and then had one zygote that passed implanted into the mother's uterus. As the Human Genome Project winds down, we're going to begin seeing more and more genetic traits being isolated, and hence more and more traits added to the list of things we can look for in our potential children.

Unfortunately, our ability to handle this technology responsibly is probably NOT within our grasp. I fear we're going to start using this technology before we're really ready for it.

Still, I know I'll be one of the first in line.