China Is Engineering Genius Babies
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 jerkoff 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 that 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 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 those 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.