In November 2018, the first genetically altered baby was born after her embryo was genetically edited to remove her susceptibility to the HIV virus. Betting on Baby imagines a dystopic future in which gene editing has not just become a norm but the primary means of reproduction. In this speculative future, babies are created synthetically, and human gene-editing is regulated by the universal governing body to ensure that humans will no longer be born with rare genetic diseases or other undesirable traits. In order to prevent fully Designed Babies, chance has been reintroduced to reproduction by means of the CAS9NO. Future parents come to spin the roulette wheel that will determine their child’s genetics, and the CAS9NO becomes the new answer to the question, “Where do babies come from?” As children are designed, classism heightens, reproductive rights are threatened, and genetic disorders are eliminated. 


Betting on Baby invites you to step up to the CAS9NO, collect your chips, play your odds, and consider what kind of future you are willing to invest in. What are you willing to gamble on?

The Biodesign Challenge offers university students the opportunity to envision future applications of biotechnology in a competition that highlights student work. Our organizers connect classrooms with a team of biologists and experts to guide the students as they develop their ideas. At the end of the semester, the winning teams are invited to New York City to showcase their designs in front of members of the academic, industrial, and design communities at the Biodesign Summit in June of each year.

Betting on Baby was voted by Parsons School of Design to represent the school in the 2019 BioDesign Challenge Summit. At the Summit, the team was nominated for the Best Presentation and Best Social Critique.

The Museum of Modern Art hosts Day 2 of the two-day BioDesign Challenge Summit in New York City. Over the course of the Summit, competing teams have the opportunity to present and exhibit for representatives of MoMA, in addition to other leading professionals in design, biotechnology, fashion, art, business, and academia.

Betting on Baby was asked to present for the World Economic Forum's Precision Consumer 2030 conference, offered in partnership with Sparks & Honey in New York City in July 2019. Their presentation contributed to the conversation about the ethics of human genetic engineering.

From DNA to voice tech, image recognition to the microbiome, biometrics to emotion detection – digital biology has been propelled to the forefront of culture as the desire for personalization increases in our society. Consumers are starting to understand the value of their personal, biological data, as are organizations and policy makers.


Sparks & Honey, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, offered a special two-part briefing series on our Precision Consumer 2030 Culture Forecast. The briefings explored the future of precision consumption: the opportunities, challenges and long-term implications of digital biology for consumers, business leaders and our society at large.

Annalie Killian, Sparks & Honey

Introducing Betting on Baby at the start of their presentation.

Tess Dempsey, Briana Bachew, Erin Lee Carman, Molly Nelson

Team Betting on Baby presenting for World Economic Forum

Betting on Baby was asked by the BioDesign Challenge to serve as one of 7 teams who represent BDC in exhibition at MIT Media Lab's Global Community Bio Summit in October 2019. 

The Global Community Bio Summit is an initiative by MIT Media Lab to create a space for the global community of DIY biologists / community biologists / biohackers / biomakers and members of independent and community laboratories to convene, plan, build fellowship, and continue the evolution of our movement.

Exhibition at MIT Media Lab.

Interactive exhibition, in which the audience was challenged to interrogate their personal ethics and vote on how they personally feel about human genetic engineering. By using a poker chip, they are challenged to "invest in a future that we are all writing right now."

The BioDesign Challenge's exhibition label for Betting on Baby

Details from the interactive exhibition, including handmade CRISPR chips