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China Biotech Science

Genome Researchers Wants Your Genes 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-say-intelligence-genes-i-say-smarty-pants dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) is looking for smart volunteers to donate their genes for analysis. They are seeking subjects with high intelligence; you can only qualify if you got a high score in SAT/ACT/GRE or got awards in competitions like Math/Physics Olympiads or TopCoder. They're also launching a drive to recruit US participants. Their first stop (PDF) appears to have been Google, which has run into trouble with the Chinese government. Also worth noting: BGI is registered in China as an 'Institutional Organization,' which by law requires it to report to a supervising governmental office or agency."
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Genome Researchers Wants Your Genes

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  • Those with a 33 (like me) need not apply, I guess.

    • "Those with a 33 (like me) need not apply, I guess."

      Nonsense! I'm sure they'll need a control group. At least that's what I suggested when I applied.

      • by tomhudson (43916)
        Logically, they'd want both those with high and low intelligence, to see what the differences were. This sounds more like a breeding program (let's breed intelligent western-looking kids to be our next generation of spies) or, more likely, just another hoax.

        Of course, if it IS an attempt to get western-looking donors of high intelligence for a breeding program, they'll be disappointed - most of them will look asian :-)

    • But those with a 36 (like me) could.

    • by Kreigaffe (765218)

      Wow, and they're looking for 1580 SAT scores or better (verbal/math only, apparently, which is how it was when i took it, 1600 max).

      That's 780V and 800M. Nothing less than perfection in math. There's a joke about the chinese and math in here somewhere, I'm sure of it.

  • Intrusion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @05:08PM (#37156460) Journal
    After World War 2 people were appalled to find out that the Nazi government were building up files of peoples measurements of faces and other such measurements to show / prove their master race theory. Isn't having DNA taken the exact same thing? There should be outrage over this kind of thing and where it could possibly lead mankind.
    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      There should be outrage over this kind of thing and where it could possibly lead mankind.

      Better?

      • The Nazi's thought they were going to improve the human race as well. That we've found a (possibly) better biological indicator of intellect does not mean that it would be moral to use that knowledge to 'improve' the human gene pool.

        Nor would it be a good idea. Cutting down the gene pool is a generically bad idea. Too much risk of damage, besides it's hard to imagine a way to restrict the gene pool without committing an atrocity.

        That being said, there's nothing wrong with studying this simply for the pure s
        • I'm leery of committing the "reductio ad Hitlerum" ("it's wrong just because Hitler did it") fallacy here. (However, "Hitler did this, and this is wrong because X, so Hitler was wrong in this regard” is perfectly logical; you do seem to take that approach.

          This particular discussion also doesn't get into other things the Nazis did, or other things that China is doing.

          However, I wonder if eugenics based on things like severe mental/physical disability is different in a practical sense from racial/ethnic

    • It's not intrusion since they're looking for volunteers.

    • Consider this scenario: let's say that, due to whatever correlation (e.g. exposure to testosterone/finger length), those measurements indeed mapped to greater brain weight, less cancer risk, you name it. What happens next? Shall we drop those scientific findings because they are politically incorrect?

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Well you can either ignore the findings or start genetically selecting or modifying babies and hope you know what you are doing.

        We already do that kind of thing by looking for problems in the unborn, and optionally terminating the pregnancy if the child has a severe disability. Well, actually it doesn't have to be that severe, in the UK something like cleft palette is enough. I'm not going to get into making a judgement here, I am just pointing out that we are already half way down that very slippery slope.

    • by zakeria (1031430)
      Your bang on the ball mate, and China should be feared!!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      A couple of generations ago, eugenics got a bad name by taking things too far under the Nazi's.

      Social liberalism experiments of breading a permanent underclass of welfare recipients should get just as bad a rap.

      Unless you love the smell of barbarians burning your civilization.

    • While it is true we don't really know why they're after this (their motivations are what we should be appalled at), in this case it's voluntary. With the Nazi's many of their subjects for those purposes did not have a choice. So at least their methods in this case are better in that regard.

    • by nukenerd (172703)
      I call Godwin's Law, and BS.

      Of course people were not "appalled". It was once quite common to take head measurements; it was called "Having your head examined". It was regarded on a similar level as fortune telling - seriously by some, or as a bit of fun by others. Thomas Hardy had it done for example, and there is a scene in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" where Marlow has it done as part of a company medical.

      Later "Having your head examined" became a joke term, eg saying to someone about to
    • by khallow (566160)

      After World War 2 people were appalled to find out that the Nazi government were building up files of peoples measurements of faces and other such measurements to show / prove their master race theory. Isn't having DNA taken the exact same thing? There should be outrage over this kind of thing and where it could possibly lead mankind.

      Two observations to note here. First, the files of measurements would have made no difference to the conclusion. The Nazis already knew what the "master race" was going to be. It was an empty ritual with a predetermined outcome. Second, how would you have expressed your disapproval of the Nazi's gimmick in a way that would matter?

      In other words, the Nazi research didn't cause the Nazi government nor their loathsome ideology. Nor would outrage at such research have made one wit of difference. So why shoul

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        The goal was to try and breed the master race by favouring parents who were more likely to produce children with the traits they wanted. It is unknown how far that would have gone but there was consideration given to enforced sterilisation on an even larger scale than they were already doing it.

        • by khallow (566160)

          The goal was to try and breed the master race by favouring parents who were more likely to produce children with the traits they wanted. It is unknown how far that would have gone but there was consideration given to enforced sterilisation on an even larger scale than they were already doing it.

          Yes, this is all well known. Again I ask the question. Why protest when the protest would be insignificant? Even if the Chinese (or some private entity that happens to be working with the current Chinese government) are trying to breed a master race behind the scenes, so what? Your and Wowsers's disapproval means nothing to them. Nor does global "outrage" which traditionally is toothless.

          To state the obvious, only overthrow of the current Chinese government by peaceful means or by force would make any di

  • by deains (1726012) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @05:09PM (#37156462)
    It's got to be super-soldiers.
  • Anyone smart enough to qualify should be smart enough to hold out for a better offer. :|

    • by hedwards (940851)

      My thought was that they shouldn't be using SAT, ACT or GRE scores as they're known to be more influenced by ones household income and motivation than intellect. Despite the complaints, the reality is that a properly designed and normed IQ test would be far more informative than any of those tests would be in this area.

      As for the other qualifications, not going to be of any sort of meaningful help as there are tons of ways in which one can win them, they aren't likely to find any useful genes as a result.

  • by houghi (78078) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @05:19PM (#37156530)

    My great aunt has given her body to science so people will learn as to why she became that old. I would like to do the same thing, but be sure that not some Monsanto makes a shitload of money from it by patenting the shit out of my dead body.

    I would realy like it to be some sort of GPL where findings are actually intended for the general public.

    Does anybody have any experience with such a thing?

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That's easy, she lived to become that old because she didn't die. As noble as it is, it's doubtful that they'll find any useful information as the people who lived to be 100+ years old are just the tail end of the distribution, there's as much luck involved as anything else.

      • by starless (60879)

        That's easy, she lived to become that old because she didn't die. As noble as it is, it's doubtful that they'll find any useful information as the people who lived to be 100+ years old are just the tail end of the distribution, there's as much luck involved as anything else.

        You give no citations to support your hypothesis.
        Sheer luck might perhaps be the case, but without research one might miss a genetic connection, which could then potentially enable either medical or lifestyle changes that could mimic the genetic differences.
        As one example of a possible genetic link to some aspects of aging see e.g.
        http://www.einstein.yu.edu/home/news.asp?id=454 [yu.edu]

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        That's easy, she lived to become that old because she didn't die. As noble as it is, it's doubtful that they'll find any useful information as the people who lived to be 100+ years old are just the tail end of the distribution, there's as much luck involved as anything else.

        Lazarus Long, is that you?

      • by houghi (78078)

        Getting old because she didn't die is true. The question is WHY she didn't die where others do. Why did she not develop malfunctions that others do>

        It might be luck, but there are many indications that that is not the case. About her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendrikje_van_Andel-Schipper [wikipedia.org].

        Hers was the first to have no signs of Alzheimers at that age. From time to time we still have contact with the doctor doing the investigation, so we know already that it isn't just getting old.

    • by DRJlaw (946416)

      I would like to do the same thing, but be sure that not some Monsanto makes a shitload of money from it by patenting the shit out of my dead body.

      I would realy like it to be some sort of GPL where findings are actually intended for the general public.

      Does anybody have any experience with such a thing?

      Yes.

      Don't have a surgical procedure. Request cremation upon death. Those are your options.

      The surgical consent forms will specify that tissue removed during surgery is medical waste that becomes the property

      • I would realy like it to be some sort of GPL where findings are actually intended for the general public.

        Does anybody have any experience with such a thing?

        Yes.

        Don't have a surgical procedure. Request cremation upon death. Those are your options.

        Even then, you might run into problems. Many state governments are routinely keeping samples of all citizens from birth [slashdot.org] -- and many store them indefinitely, with no easy way for parents or citizens to get them released or destroyed. There have been cases where these samples have made it into the hands of private researchers with little or no oversight.

        Whether or not such policies have affected the GP is a different question, but for new people born nowadays, it's getting ever harder to stay out of such

    • by Jazari (2006634)

      be sure that not some Monsanto makes a shitload of money from it by patenting the shit out of my dead body.

      It takes work to turn a dead body into a potential cure, and then it takes lots of money to test that cure and make sure it's safe and effective. I expect that any company that undertakes such a project will want to be sure that they can get something back for their investment.

      Personally, I'd give my DNA away for free, and hope that I or my descendants can benefit from the new discoveries even if we have to pay for them. It's much better than not having access to these discoveries at all because they do

    • Since the researchers are in China...what about DNA piracy? Like creating your clone without you knowing it (assuming they have the capability).
      • by noodler (724788)

        If we could do it with sheep 20 years ago then why would you think that we cannot do it with humans right now?
        I think that the ONLY barrier is ethics and general denial from the general public.
        I mean, it's not as if they ask for people with a common genetic illness that they can study and cure.
        They specifically ask for very smart people to be studied, but what kind of study will this be and how will the results be applied?
        Cloning a bunch of super-smart people seems certainly like something they may asspire

    • by kenj0418 (230916)

      ...body to science..but be sure that not some Monsanto makes a shitload of money from it by patenting the shit out of my dead body.

      Damn. There goes their plans to make "Plants vs. Zombies" into a reality TV show.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      I hate to break it to you, but "leaving your body to medical science" is equivalent to "agreeing to let medical students learn anatomy on you".

      Old people are old because they haven't died of the things that kill people. That sounds trite, but it is literally a summary of everything we know about increasing longevity. People aren't living longer, the survival function is simply getting squarer.

  • the fact that they are limiting their selection to certain standardized test scores says a lot about the kind of society these people wouldn't mind creating.
    • Realistically, the trade deficit says just as much about the type of society that the Chinese are interested in creating.

    • by MagusSlurpy (592575) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @06:25PM (#37156898) Homepage

      No, the fact that they're limiting their selection means that they are looking for a specific link between high standardized test scores/academic achievement and the inability to recognize people by face [wikipedia.org]. No one is apparently bothering to read the first paragraph on that web page.

      We are recruiting subjects for a Genome Wide Association Study of intelligence. Our study of prosopagnosia has not yet begun; if you wish to learn more about this condition, please visit faceblind.org.

      • No, the fact that they're limiting their selection means that they are looking for a specific link between high standardized test scores/academic achievement and the inability to recognize people by face. No one is apparently bothering to read the first paragraph on that web page.

        Why are you surprised that the Chinese are interested in studying why people lose face?

  • No way, I just bought these!

  • From brutal experience I can attest to the fact that most people on Slashdot, save myself, are not that smart. ;)

    GC

  • From the ad it looks like they are looking at a very narrow definition of intelligence, that is the ability to perform on standardized exams or a PhD in Math, Physics, EE, or theoretical computer science from a "top" U.S. university. Not to be China bashing, but I think China is over emphasizing rote memorization or test taking ability to the exclusion of developing other, more creative forms of intelligence. I think China is in search of the SAT-taking gene, not the smart gene.
    • by sydneyfong (410107) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @06:18PM (#37156862) Homepage Journal

      All you people need to RTFM (and click the FAQ):
      https://www.cog-genomics.org/faq/ [cog-genomics.org]

      What is intelligence?

      No one knows precisely what intelligence is, and even experts disagree as to how it should be defined. However, it has been known for over a century that performance on different cognitive tests is positively correlated: for example, someone who is good at math puzzles is also more likely to have an above average vocabulary. Given a battery of tests and their correlation matrix, one can use probability theory to define a single parameter that, in a sense, optimally compresses the information from administering them all.

      In practice, a wide range of intuitively sensible test batteries and functions of their score vectors yield very similar estimates of this parameter. As a result, psychologists consider these functions of test batteries to all be reasonable estimators of a parameter called the General Factor of Intelligence, or g for short.

      From the use of phrases like "intuitively sensible", it should be clear that the definition of g is a little bit arbitrary. However, we believe that it's the most promising metric to base an intelligence GWAS on. The most important properties of g are:

      stability (scores tend not to vary significantly after adolescence),
      heritability (twin and adoption studies suggest that much of the variance in g is due to genetics), and
      predictive power (g scores are correlated with academic and job performance, income, longevity, etc., even after controlling for other variables such as social class).

      At least they know their results have limited scope.

    • by WorBlux (1751716)
      Not really. People with these sorts of scores are much more likely to have children with autistic traits or be autistic themselves. They are trying to find a gene linked to prosopagnosia, which is a characteristic on the autism spectrum.
  • What? You want my genes so you can patent them and start charing me a monthly fee, to live?

    Screw you!!!!!

    Where's a provocative, definitive Captain Picard lecture when you need one?

  • I mean isn't this where this is headed?

    Actually, as long as they're doing this, does anyone know if the volunteers get a copy of the sequence? Even for The forseeable future, a full sequencing of your DNA would cost thousands(?) of dollars. Might be worth it! (I wonder if I qualify).

    I also wonder if they're trying to obtain the DNA of some very smart people, dead or alive. For example the DNA from Einstein's brain which is preserved somewhere or perhaps Feynman (if they can find any samples, maybe on hi

  • Read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" (http://books.google.com/books?id=LBBhikJpLjwC&lpg=PP1&dq=henrietta%20lacks&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false) to find out why you should not necessarily volunteer your genetic material. You may save the world... but will you be remembered?
  • to avoid taking those tests or letting the government know how smart I am (or am not).

    =)

  • let me say: You need to work on your subject/verb agreement. "researchers wants"?

    While I qualify, I don't think I'll participate. Thanks but no thanks.

  • by djirk (763517) on Sunday August 21, 2011 @02:30AM (#37159068)
    and I didn't speak out because I was not a genius.
  • This is contentious. Do they mean maths/science smart? Or like art/abstract smart. Because it seems you can have different kinds of intelligence. For instance, someone could be a mathematician and be terrible in other subjects that involve different kinds of thought. I think it would be more useful if they got people who were accomplished writers, artists, musicians etc. and mapped their DNA as well, rather than just focussing on one particular kind of intelligence (scientific/analytical intelligence).

    • by Intropy (2009018)
      The best current science on that issue says that there are indeed different areas of intelligence. But there's also an overall intelligence correlated to all of those areas to different degrees.
    • They mean "at a very minimum, smart enough to read the FAQ so people know what they mean by smart."
  • "Genome researchers wants" our genes..? I think maybe our genes are belong to them already...
  • Is it just me or does the front page "China" graphic look like a Cylon's head?

    Just me then.

  • Who cares what they want it for? An organization that reports to a brutal and oppressive government is asking for intelligent volunteers. Does it really matter if our DNA would be used for research or something else? The gall of doing what they did to Google then asking their employees for DNA is mildly shocking. When you consider what they've done to Democracy activists and Tibetans, for them to ask anyone of conscience is even more ridiculous.
  • They can't have my genes. I'm wearing them! O wait... guess I'm not a candidate, anyways.
  • Help China? They can suck my dick.

    Oh wait...

"All my life I wanted to be someone; I guess I should have been more specific." -- Jane Wagner

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