“Every single one of your ancestors got laid and had kids”

This is a frequently used argument pro having kids.

In other words:

“You came here through an unbroken chain of your ancestors from tadpoles till now
that all replicated, are you literally gonna be the first ones to miss that branch? […] I just can’t even imagine the thought that I have great grandfather’s and great-great grandfather’s who suffered all kinds of misery and hell to survive and to replicate… and I’m gonna say oh yeah, I couldn’t be bothered I was having too good of a time to actually pass the genes along” – Naval Ravikant

Until now, this was one of the strongest reasons for me to have kids.

Let’s reframe.

This is the typical tree of your ancestors. You’re the green person at the bottom. Above that are your parents, grandparents and so on.

In this representation, you’re the central person. It seems like all the people above you are just there for you. And by not having kids, you’re letting them down!

The real tree actually looks a bit more like this:

You’re not the only one. Your ancestors had multiple kids. You have brothers and sisters and first cousins and second cousins.

Oops. You’re not that special. The DNA will be just fine without you.

Now, let’s see what happens if you do decide to have kids:

You’re the green guy. After just 4 generations, your DNA seems to be quite insignificant. You’re one of the great great grandparents. That kid at the bottom? He won’t even know your name.

In 10 generations (about 300 years), your descendants will only share 1/1024 of your genes.

Scott Adams says he passes along his ideas through books and software. One could argue that memetic replication these days is more effective than genetic replication.

With rapid breakthroughs in genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and neuroscience we could be looking at a major shift away from biological reproduction in the next few hundred years or so. I know this sounds far-fetched.

I’m still not sure whether I want kids or not. I’m not saying either choice is better than the other. I just won’t be using the above argument any longer to convince myself I should.