Harvard biologist George Church, one of the pioneers of the Human Genome Project and gene editing, received quite a bit of bad press after he admitted to receiving funds from Jeffrey Epstein. But, in a recent interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, Church made another shocking revelation: he’s working on a genetics-based dating app, which many people see as treading on dangerous territory.
Those genes are hot
Church’s research is focused on reversing aging, making humans immune to viruses, and eradicating genetic diseases. Perhaps all of this time in the lab may have clouded Church’s judgment, who’s latest project is a dating app where you can only right swipe on people who match certain genes. The idea is to pair people based on the propensity of their genes, so there would be fewer children suffering from hereditary diseases.
Does that sound sexy? Well, that sounds more like a right swipe on eugenics to me. Historically, eugenicists advocated selective breeding to improve the genetic composition of the human race. Any discussion on eugenics eventually tangents into the WWII Nazi goal of cultivating a master race, which also led to the Holocaust and the extermination of millions.
During Church’s interview, the geneticist spoke about some of his latest projects, such as experiments that use Church’s own DNA to grow organs in the lab.
He also told CBS correspondent Scott Pelley that he regretted accepting money for his research from Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted pedophile, saying that he was sorry for “not knowing more about the donor.”
Epstein, who has long boasted of his scientific philanthropy and association with academics like Stephen Hawking, had some idea about genetics as dubious as his sexual predatory ways. He reportedly wanted to inseminate 20 women at a time inside his 33,000-square-foot Zorro Ranch in Stanley, New Mexico, much like cattle stock, in order to propagate his own genome.
The most shocking segment from the CBS interview was Church’s dating app — which is currently in development but with no other details released to the public.
“You wouldn’t find out who you’re not compatible with. You’ll just find out who you are compatible with,” Church said.
“You’re suggesting that if everyone has their genome sequenced and the correct matches are made, that all of these diseases could be eliminated?” 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley asked.
“Right. It’s 7,000 diseases. It’s about 5% of the population. It’s about a trillion dollars a year, worldwide,” Church said.
Ironically, if Church used his own app, he wouldn’t be the most eligible bachelor. The biologist has dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and narcolepsy, which should render him an incompatible match to many.
“If somebody had sequenced your genome some years ago, you might not have made the grade in some way,” Pelley said.
“I mean, that’s true,” Church replied. “I would hope that society sees the benefit of diversity, not just ancestral diversity, but in our abilities. There’s no perfect person.”
Church was poor with details but there are many things we’d like to know. What kind of genetic diseases will people be screened for and what would an algorithm that ranks people for their genetic superiority look like?