Chinese genetic researching firm, BGI (previously known as Beijing Genomics Institute) has been compiling the DNA of 2,000 of the world’s brightest individuals. Vice reporter, Aleks Eror, recently had a chance to speak with NYU professor and evolutionary psychologist, Geoffrey Miller, about his experiences with the project.
What is BGI looking for with their microscopic library of genius genes? They plan to sequence them and identify genetic markers for intelligence. Intelligence is an abstract trait, which makes this a monumental challenge. Once they can identify the genetic markers, they can move on to ensuring soon-to-be parents have the most intelligent child they can out of their genetic possibilities. Miller explains:
“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.”
And for those of us who have forgotten all our biology:
“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.”
This is certainly a possible way for China to jump into–what it feels is–it’s rightful place in the global pecking order, though it could also go wrong as well. Time will tell though, because if you had any doubts about their desire to move forward, BGI just acquired Complete Genomics, a firm which possesses cutting edge human genome sequencing technology.