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In the 1997 film GATTACA, a couple anxious to have a child sit down with their doctor. He shows them the very best embryos that were produced from combining their gametes. The physician explains that he will help them to have a child who is the very best of themselves by choosing the best embryos and tweaking the DNA.  In 2014, BGI, a Chinese company, is hoping that it will soon be able to offer parents a similar option—choosing the “smartest” embryo.

As the world’s largest genetic research center, BGI has collected over 2,000 DNA samples from subjects with high IQs. These strands will be compared against the general population to see what, if any, DNA differs between the two groups. The goal is to find the genes for high intelligence (as defined by an IQ test). The second phase will be to use this knowledge to allow parents to have embryos created through artificial reproductive technologies tested for these high IQ genes. Then only the smartest embryos would be implanted.

In its information, the company assumes that 50-80% of...