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Have babies by email

A USB device which enables you to exchange DNA with an online partner
  [vote for,

This has been hanging around in my head for many years now but never became sufficiently focussed for me even to post it on here, but for some reason i've just decided to submit it anyway.

There's a throwaway line somewhere in the original series of 'Star Trek' suggesting that Vulcans reproduce by mail, which is not supported by the canon - i can't track it down but it's in there somewhere. This is the origin of that idea.

Anyway, many people pursue quite intimate and intense online relationships, often including cybersex via RP and presumably Skype, Chatroulette and porn sites. These are the ultimate form of safe sex because there's no way anything is going to insert itself into your genetic code in that manner, at least directly, and the chances of reproduction are rather low. However, what if you actually want to have a baby with this person who is half way across the planet and can therefore make a major contribution to the parenting?

The answer is a USB device which can assemble a haploid genome from your virtual partner and combine it with your own. Women have a probe which penetrates the ovary and removes an oocyte before scanning and recording its genome. These data are then compressed and transmitted via the internet to their partner's device. Men have a much less invasive receptacle into which they provide their sample, from which an individual spermatozoan is selected and similarly scanned and transmitted. DNA is then assembled at the other end and added to the appropriate isolated . I admit i'm hazy about this. The resulting diploid nucleus is then inserted into an ovum whose own nucleus has been removed and either injected into the man's greater omentum or the woman's uterus. Homosexual options are also available, trivially compared to the technology required to make this possible. Options also exist to have only one zygote between the two, or to implant several zygotes to maximise the chances of full term pregnancy.

The embryo implanted then goes through the usual process, any man involved taking the necessary hormones via implant, and the baby is then either delivered via C-section in the man's case or vaginally in the woman's. The other parent is available via a remote roving presence.

Then you've got the whole breastfeeding thing of course.

Incidentally, can anyone tell me if this is baked in SF? I'd be surprised if it wasn't but i'm not aware of it.

nineteenthly, Mar 23 2013

Maid outfit and 50 calibre http://www.youtube....watch?v=3XnMQUqjiH0
[not_morrison_rm, Mar 23 2013]


       where's the fun in that?
po, Mar 23 2013

       //Vulcans reproduce by mail, which is not supported by the canon   

       Well, this kind of thing gets you fired from the cathedral and there's a recession on, don't you know.   

       If Vulcan could reproduce by cannon, that would be more novel.   

       No doubt lead to any amount of etchings and other erotica for our pointy-eared cousins. Suggest start off with the small stuff, .50 calibre and move upwards. See link for Japanese version, probably sponsored by Canon.   

       But seriously, not come across any usage of email for procreation in SF...but presumably sperm and ova do get swapped about, presumably by Fedex or DHL these days.   

       Being of a pessimistic outlook it would need some serious security as hacking the DNA enroute could lead to a Alien-like experience.   

       If you currently get something from a sperm/ova bank it might not come from the donor you expected, for whatever reason, but at least you know it's going to be human.
not_morrison_rm, Mar 23 2013

       Tehcnologically infeasible but otherwise a grand idea.   

       One point, though - why bother isolating a gamete to scan, and on which to model the e-gamete? Far simpler to just fully sequence a boring old skin cell; then mix and match bits of the two haplotypes to create your e-gamete.   

       This way, you'd be able to pick all the best bits of you and your partner - a sort of royal flush in the genetic card hand of each partner. This would be a tremendous advantage. Moreovermore, you could eliminate most genetic disorders within a generation or few, simply by ensuring that only the good alleles were passed on; this might happen by chance in old-fashioned squidgy reproduction, but not consistently.   

       And, of course, if you're Photoshopping your genome, you could choose to edit out even homozygous dud alleles. While you're about it, you could also airbrush out any slightly-imperfect genes. The possibilities are unlimitless.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 23 2013

       As it happens, i was thinking that very same thing, [MB]. Also, whenever i consider the human genome in this way i start thinking about wonderfully efficient compression algorithms which first of all remove everything humans have in common, compress it as codons and so forth. I also considered the possibility of sponsored birthmarks but have no idea how i'd go about that.   

       [not_morrison_rm], i hesitate to follow that link while a lady's present but it will be followed avidly as soon as she exits the room.
nineteenthly, Mar 23 2013

       / /data are then compressed and transmitted via the internet //   

       So, you can store the genetic info into a database. And then, some corporation make an online store to get babies from genes of your favorites actors, models, etc.   

       And then, facebook let you upload your genetics chains, besides photos and videos. You choose: public or share with friends ?.   

       Five years later you see lots of kids resembling a famous young actor/rock star that isn't young nor famous anymore.   

       Yes, the possibilities (and consequences) are endless [+]
piluso, Mar 23 2013

       //"What happens when Bob and Alice get drunk?"//
This could be MFTL. I have been reading (even writing) about these two characters (who are the archetypal characters in most discussions of computer-based encryption studies) for years, but it never dawned on me to ask this momentous question. I would add the now-obvious: what happens if Eve lures Bob into her eavesdropper hideout late at night?
sqeaketh the wheel, Mar 24 2013

       //data are then compressed and transmitted via the internet //   

       "Goodness but that's a tiny baby!"
"I know. We forgot to unZip it."
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 24 2013

       //One point, though - why bother isolating a gamete to scan, and on which to model the e-gamete? Far simpler to just fully sequence a boring old skin cell; then mix and match bits of the two haplotypes to create your e-gamete.//   

       Would this work?   

       I read that experiments have been done with taking 2 egg cells, using the genome from one to fake up a kind of faux-sperm-genome, and using it to impregnate the other. It doesn't work - the embryos produced by this technique are riddled with birth defects, and reliably die before reaching maturity. The hypothesis is that this is something to do with the methylation of the DNA, which differs significantly between the egg and the sperm, even if the underlying base pairs are the same.   

       So it might be necessary to sequence a sperm, to get the methylation right.
Wrongfellow, Mar 24 2013

       //Would this work? //   

       Yes. The DNA in the gamete is a random choice of bits from the two haplotypes found in any cell. Animals are routinely cloned from somatic cells.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 24 2013

       So, if they clone mammoths, that would be from some arctic cells? I'll just go out and shoot myself.
not_morrison_rm, Mar 25 2013

       //if they clone mammoths, that would be from some arctic cells?// Probably. But it's very unlikely.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 25 2013

       If your baby doesn't arrive within 9 months, please check your Spam folder.
phundug, Mar 26 2013


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