Are you hoping for a girl or a boy?

The moment of birth used to be attended by an answer to a nine-month mystery: girl or boy? Now, to anyone with the slightest curiosity and no mystical scruples, simple, non-invasive technology can provide the answer from an early stage of pregnancy. With both of our children, we chose to know the answer (in the UK about half of parents want to know), and I suspect the likelihood of the question continuing to be asked will diminish rapidly.

What's interesting is this is the first of many questions about the anticipated child that will soon not be asked. These will range from the trivial (eye colour, mature height) to the important (propensity to certain diseases and illnesses). The uneasiness many people still have about knowing the sex of the child suggests that society is vastly unprepared for the pre-birth answers to a wide range of questions.

LANCE KNOBEL is a managing director of Vesta Group, an Internet and wireless investment company based in London. He was formerly head of the programme of the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos and Editor-in-Chief of World Link.