6 Things to Think About When Designing Your Child

Designing your child is designing the future. Do it wisely.

Congratulations on your decision to procreate! This is a short guide to some questions that you should consider before meeting with your genetic architect. If you intend to combine your genetic material with others, we encourage you to discuss these questions with any co-parents in advance.

Everyone wants their descendants to be healthy and happy, but how is that best achieved? When designing your child, keep in mind that you are designing not just an individual, but a member of society. Consider in particular how the child will relate to you and your family.

Here are some questions you should consider:

Size: While it is possible in principle for children to be a continuum of sizes from miniatures to giants, public infrastructure is optimized to support only the three most common sizes: small, classic, and large. Half-sized children are by far the most economical. These small kids, or “demis,” consume less than one quarter of the resources of classics. They can live in split-floor housing and take advantage of split-seat transportation. Also, their shorter neurons allow them to think faster. Large children, or “supers,” are also a popular choice, especially for parents who value athletic performance. Keep in mind, however, that their advantages in physical power come with greater needs for space and other resources. Supers can also be a challenge to raise, especially for small and classic-sized parents. If you’re living in a city with older infrastructure, or if you value a traditional lifestyle, a classic-sized child may still be your best choice.

Additional appendages: While some parents still opt for the traditional pair of five-fingered hands, we recommend that you consider at least one additional appendage. Prehensile tails have pluses and minuses, but there is very little downside to an extra set of fingers or a few small tentacles. Studies have shown that children without these features often wish they had them.

Mental predispositions: Choosing your child’s brain type requires some trade-offs. For instance, every parent would like their child to be good at abstract thinking and have high sensory awareness, but these two traits fundamentally compete with each other. The same can be said for emotional and rational intelligence, self-discipline and spontaneity, loyalty and open-mindedness. Our general recommendation is not to push for extremes and strive for a balance. While it is true that people with atypical minds make some of the greatest contributions to science, art, literature, music, and politics, these people are generally not the happiest. If you are concerned that your child will be lonely, consider clones.

Accessories: Wings, tusks, antlers, and trunks are generally not recommended. Extra eyes, redundant internal organs, extended range vision and hearing, cyber interfaces, and extended memory are all worth considering. If you live an aquatic lifestyle, webbing and fins are a must. Gills can extend submersion time, but they are not as useful as extra lung capacity, and they are difficult to keep clean. Echolocation is another popular accessory. The only real limitation to accessorizing is neural bandwidth and metabolic consumption. Your genetic architect will help you find a workable combo.

Gender: Deciding whether to install a Y-chromosome is just the beginning. Contrary to common assumptions, it is not just a matter of picking out primary and secondary sexual characteristics and sexual orientation. You also have a choice of hormone balances and how they vary with time. Sexual preferences, as well as level of sexual interest, can be programmed to change on a monthly cycle. Give some thought to pheromones. It is important that sexual attraction is in sync with sexual attractiveness. And don’t underestimate the value of those additional appendages.

Aesthetics: While the exterior covering of a child may seem superficial, the reality is that many parents devote most of their planning to this feature. Fortunately, you have plenty of options for expressing your creativity.

The biggest decision is whether you want to go with a classical pattern of beauty, or something unusual. One popular approach is to select a generally admired form, such as Elf, Prince, or Venus, and customize it with special coloration. Skin pigments are available in all the colors of the rainbow. 

Most parents stick to a single hue, using patches of fur, scales, or feathers to add contrasting highlights. Keep in mind, though, that those additions create challenges for thermal control and can be hard to groom. Patterns such as stripes and spots are possible, but their exact shapes cannot be programmed. Dynamic coloration, or “chameleon effects,” can be charming, but will be difficult for your child to control. A good rule of thumb on coloration is to avoid the temptation to follow the latest trend. Those lime and fuchsia stripes on the hottest pop star may look fashionable today, but imagine how your child will feel every time they run into someone their own age, sporting the same pattern. It is generally better to go with coloration that is either traditional or unique. Of course, whatever you do, resign yourself to the fact that most children will seek genetic cosmods when they come of age.

These guidelines are just a starting point for your conversation. Your genetic architect is an expert in helping you design a unique addition to our diverse human society. Remember: Your child’s happiness will rest largely on their ability to interact with others and play a positive role in society. 

Designing your child is designing the future. Do it wisely.

This thought experiment was excerpted from the book Neo.Life: 25 Visions for the Future of Our Species.

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