China Engineering Genius Babies
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14-04-2013, 06:32 AM
China Engineering Genius Babies
http://www.vice.com/read/chinas-taking-o...ng-program

By Aleks Eror

It’s not exactly news that China is setting itself up as a new global
superpower, is it? While Western civilization chokes on its own gluttony like
a latter-day Marlon Brando, China continues to buy up American debt and lock
away the world’s natural resources. But now, not content to simply laugh and
make jerk-off signs as they pass us on the geopolitical highway, they’ve also
developed a state-endorsed genetic-engineering project.

At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the
world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt
to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently
they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will
allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every
generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. Within a couple of
generations, competing with the Chinese on an intellectual level will be like
challenging Lena Dunham to a getting-naked-on-TV contest.

Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist and lecturer at NYU, is one of
the 2,000 braniacs who contributed their DNA. I spoke to him about what this
creepy-ass program might mean for the future of Chinese kids.

VICE: Hey, Geoffrey. Does China have a history of eugenics?

Geoffrey Miller: As soon as Deng Xiaoping took power in the late 70s, he took
the whole focus of the Chinese government from trying to manage the economy,
to trying to manage the quality and quantity of people. In the 90s, they
started to do widespread prenatal testing for birth defects with ultrasound,
and more recently, they've spent a lot of money researching human genetics to
figure out which genes make people smarter.

What do you know about BGI Shenzhen?

It’s the biggest genetic research center in China, and I think the biggest in
the world, by a considerable margin. They’re not just doing human genetics;
BGI is also doing lots of plant genetics, animal genetics, anything that’s
economically relevant or scientifically interesting.

Are you in touch with them?

I just got an email a couple of days ago saying that they’d almost finished
doing the sequencing for the BGI Cognitive Genetics Project, the one I gave
my genetics to, and that the results would be available soon.

What was their selection process?

They seem mostly interested in people of Chinese and European descent.
They’re basically recruiting through a scientific conference, through word of
mouth. You have to provide some evidence that you’re as smart as you say you
are. You have to send your complete CV, publications you’ve produced,
standardized-test scores, where you went to college... stuff like that.

How will the research be applied?

Once you’ve got that information and a fertilized egg that’s divided into a
few cells, you can sample one of the cells to figure out the expected
intelligence if it’s implanted and becomes a person.

What does that mean in human language?

Any given couple could potentially have several eggs fertilized in the lab
with the dad’s sperm and the mom’s eggs. Then you can test multiple embryos
and analyze which one’s going to be the smartest. That kid would belong to
that couple as if they had it naturally, but it would be the smartest a
couple would be able to produce if they had 100 kids. It’s not genetic
engineering or adding new genes, it’s the genes that couples already have.

And over the course of several generations you’re able to exponentially
multiply the population’s intelligence.

Right. Even if it only boosts the average kid by five IQ points, that’s a
huge difference in terms of economic productivity, the competitiveness of the
country, how many patents they get, how their businesses are run, and how
innovative their economy is.

Could it develop into something more sinister?

That same research does open up the door potentially to genetic engineering
in the future. But that would take a lot longer to make practical.



When do you think the embryo analysis might be implemented on a large scale?

Actual use of the technology to do embryo screening might take five to ten
years, but it could be just a few years. It depends on how motivated they
are.

Could this whole process be repeated with other characteristics, like
physical appearance?

Absolutely. In fact, almost any trait other than intelligence would be easier
to do. We know that intelligence depends on lots of genes while physical
traits—like hair or eye color—only depend on a few genes. Things like body
shape would be easier to do, physical attractiveness would be pretty
complicated, personality traits might be a little simpler than
intelligence—how hard working somebody is, how impulsive, how politically
liberal or conservative they are would be easier. How religious you
are—that’s definitely influenced by genes to some degree.

Shit. How does Western research in genetics compare to China’s?

We’re pretty far behind. We have the same technical capabilities, the same
statistical capabilities to analyze the data, but they’re collecting the data
on a much larger scale and seem to be capable of transforming the scientific
findings into government policy and consumer genetic testing much more easily
than we are. Technically and scientifically we could be doing this, but we’re
not.

Why not?

We have ideological biases that say, “Well, this could be troubling, we
shouldn’t be meddling with nature, we shouldn’t be meddling with God.” I just
attended a debate in New York a few weeks ago about whether or not we should
outlaw genetic engineering in babies and the audience was pretty split. In
China, 95 percent of an audience would say, “Obviously you should make babies
genetically healthier, happier, and brighter!” There’s a big cultural
difference.

What else is China doing that we aren’t?

Well, they’re also investing a huge amount of money in education, they’re
creating new systems of universities that emphasise more creative approaches
to learning, and they’re sending hundreds of thousands of college students to
America and Europe to see how our education systems operate so they can bring
their own systems up to our standards and above.

Do you think global domination is in the cards, then?

The Chinese Communist party has never really sought global domination. They
think of it as restoring China to its rightful and historical place as the
central culture of humanity. Europe got a temporary advantage, but they’re
just restoring the natural balance as the world’s most populous country. I
don’t think they have any imperial ambitions to spread China’s
borders—they’re not going to act like Nazi Germany or America in the 20th
century—but they do want respect and they do want influence and they don’t
trust America or Europe to run the world in the right way, in terms of issues
like global warming or equality or economic stability.

Maybe they’re on to something.

Follow Aleks on Twitter: @slandr

“Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born.” - Lawrence M. Krauss
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14-04-2013, 06:34 AM
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
I have to say, GO CHINA!

It's about time someone took advantage of the technology and started putting it to good use. It's a shame that we are going to be left behind... by the look of things.

“Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born.” - Lawrence M. Krauss
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14-04-2013, 06:39 AM
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
No, unfortunately we actually failed . Kim the second placed an order. We delivered our best product. It's ... unexpectedly unstable ... We also feel ashamed.

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14-04-2013, 06:59 AM (This post was last modified: 14-04-2013 07:04 AM by DeepThought.)
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
(14-04-2013 06:39 AM)HU.Junyuan Wrote:  No, unfortunately we actually failed . Kim the second placed an order. We delivered our best product. It's ... unexpectedly unstable ... We also feel ashamed.

lol, it's still a few years away but i'd be interested in your actual opinion. Especially considering how much of an impact this sort of thing would have on society in China.

I'm suspecting that even China wouldn't have the capacity to screen all the populations zygotes. That means only a select few could get the children with this artificial selection intelligence boost. This could create a class system similar to what was seen in Gattaca. The smarter children earn more in turn ensuring that they, too get access to the advanced technology.

Junyuan, have you seen the movie Gattaca?

It's the people in America, Australia and elsewhere that will become the "Invalids"...

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14-04-2013, 07:26 AM (This post was last modified: 14-04-2013 08:26 AM by HU.Junyuan.)
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
Eugenics is no news for China or for the world. Thanks to prenatal tests, which is kind of a routine process for mother-to-be's, birth defects have been reduced. Since people are able to avoid the worst case scenario, with the help of bio-chips, there's no wonder that the best case scenario is avidly wanted, which is within our reach and has been done in small scales all around the world.

So, since it's no news and nothing horrible, its impact on the society is quite limited. And I agree that the CPC has never really sought global domination and that the Chinese want their rightful place among all peoples around the globe. Not the central culture, but one of the major cultures of humanity, and never again a culture which was enslaved by a handful of colonists who set up some cannons on the coast and ended up with the right to sell opium freely.

Engineering genius babies? Sounds like luxury to me.

And about the film Gattaca of 1997, I think the theme was "the soul is not determined by genes". I don't agree because there's no soul and people very probably will behave differently if their genes are different. But I do think that what we know think is best may not turn out to be as good in the end. The same for the worst. And I believe we are still at least a hundred years away from what was in Gattaca. I won't worry about it, just like I won't worry about Sky Net. By the time we reach that level, we will have been very different in thinking and doing.

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14-04-2013, 08:45 AM
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
(14-04-2013 07:26 AM)HU.Junyuan Wrote:  Eugenics is no news for China or for the world. Thanks to prenatal tests, which is kind of a routine process for mother-to-be's, birth defects have been reduced. Since people are able to avoid the worst case scenario, with the help of bio-chips, there's no wonder that the best case scenario is avidly wanted, which is within our reach and has been done in small scales all around the world.

So, since it's no news and nothing horrible, its impact on the society is quite limited. And I agree that the CPC has never really sought global domination and that the Chinese want their rightful place among all peoples around the globe. Not the central culture, but one of the major cultures of humanity, and never again a culture which was enslaved by a handful of colonists who set up some cannons on the coast and ended up with the right to sell opium freely.

Engineering genius babies? Sounds like luxury to me.

And about the film Gattaca of 1997, I think the theme was "the soul is not determined by genes". I don't agree because there's no soul and people very probably will behave differently if their genes are different. But I do think that what we know think is best may not turn out to be as good in the end. The same for the worst. And I believe we are still at least a hundred years away from what was in Gattaca. I won't worry about it, just like I won't worry about Sky Net. By the time we reach that level, we will have been very different in thinking and doing.

There is of course the problem with certain traits being tied to others. High IQ is generally tied to poor eyesight (instances of near sightedness run a very strong parallel to higher IQ scores) which could mean that they would be trading High IQ scores for near blindness. Granted Laser eye surgery could be used to fix the eyes but if it is a continuing trend how long until the weak eyes become non-functioning?

This is the problem with genetics it seems like traits are not singular but part of a grouping and not all of the group is good or bad. So I wouldn't be too worried about Chinese Super kids just yet.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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14-04-2013, 11:19 AM
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
This'll put Casio out of business for sure.

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14-04-2013, 01:07 PM
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
(14-04-2013 08:45 AM)Revenant77x Wrote:  So I wouldn't be too worried about Chinese Super kids just yet.

Really no need to worry about those Super Glasses-Wearing Exam-Experts.

And high EQ is more about fitness as a member of the society.

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14-04-2013, 07:01 PM
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
"Fitness as a member of society"
true commy.

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14-04-2013, 07:10 PM
RE: China Engineering Genius Babies
(14-04-2013 07:01 PM)earmuffs Wrote:  "Fitness as a member of society"
true commy.

What's the difference between P.E. in a capitalist country and a commie one? The gun comes at the end of the 40 yard dash.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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