Predicting IQ potential of human embryos may be possible with machine learning, genetic data

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Image: MIT Technology Review

[T]he diseases that are most likely to shadow the average person’s life — cancer, heart disease, diabetes — are polygenic, meaning that they result from interactions between thousands of genetic signals. In the past, this has made these diseases — which kill millions of Americans each year — all but impossible to screen for with genetic tests.

But Genomic Prediction, a New Jersey-based company that analyzes genetic data using machine learning, is hoping to change that. Taking advantage of the new troves of genetic sequences that have accumulated over the past decade, the company is offering what is known as polygenic risk scores, a screening process that attempts to establish the statistical probability of a person developing diseases like diabetes or hypertension throughout their life.

More controversially, however, Genomic Prediction is also offering IVF patients the option of screening embryos for projected cognitive ability. While the company says that at this stage it will only inform parents about the risks of potential intellectual disability — defined as 25 points below the average IQ — it’s easy to imagine that this new technology could be the first step in a dystopian science fiction scenario: designer babies.

Read full, original post: What If an Algorithm Could Predict Your Unborn Child’s Intelligence?

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