If Then

Tomorrow’s Children, Edited

The journalist who broke the story on the first efforts to gene-edit babies, joins If Then to talk about the controversial procedure’s history, future, and ethics.

Listen to If Then by clicking the arrow on the audio player below, or get the show via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play

On If Then, hosts April Glaser and Will Oremus discuss the ongoing fallout at Facebook over the company’s decision to hire a conservative PR firm to surface opposition research in order to attack Facebook’s nonprofit critics by highlighting their funding ties to the liberal financier George Soros, playing into a popular, untrue, and anti-Semitic right-wing trope. As internal and external turmoil continues to rile major American technology companies, their employees are organizing for serious change. The hosts dig into what they’ve accomplished so far and what continued employee pressure and mounting labor actions means down the line.


Then, an interview with Antonio Regalado, a senior editor at the MIT Technology Review, on a story he broke Sunday night: the very first efforts to gene-edit babies reportedly born this month in China.* The trio discusses the history of gene-editing technology and the debate about using it on humans. To some, gene-editing is a form of medicine, like a vaccination. To others, it’s a form of enhancement. How easy is this to do? And will we have a future where the health of tomorrow’s children, or those whose parents can afford it, will be determined before they’re even born?


14:13 - Interview with Antonio Regalado

32:02 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Stories discussed on the show:


• Slate: “Everything Facebook Admitted Just Before Thanksgiving When No One Would Notice

• Slate: “Facebook’s Former Security Chief Reflects on What Went Wrong

• BuzzFeed: “Despite Changes To Sexual Misconduct Policies, Google Walkout Organizers Say There’s More To Be Done

• New York Times: “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’

• MIT Technology Review: “Chinese Scientists Are Creating CRISPR Babies

• MIT Technology Review: “The Chinese Scientist Who Claims He Made CRISPR Babies Is Under Investigation

Don’t Close My Tabs:

New Yorker: Exploding Mojitos: The First ‘Sonic Attacks’ Targeting American Diplomats in Cuba May Have Taken Place Thirty Years Ago

New York Times: “A Business With No End

Podcast production by Max Jacobs.

If Then plugs:

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

*Correction, Nov. 29, 2018: An earlier version of this show page misstated the scope of Antonio Regalato’s initial reporting. 

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.