Why Armenia is more likely to engineer super-children than China

Seems like everybody’s talking Chinese genomics and the art of engineering genius babies these days. But the nation that’s more likely to breed a generation of super-smart, problem-solving kids isn’t the global economic giant currently engaging in a complex, sinister-sounding genetics program—it’s Armenia, a tiny landlocked nation, pop. 3,000,000, that’s still mired in the shadow of a devastating genocide. And it’s going to do it with chess, the Motherboard writes.

Beijing Genomics Institute is essentially looking for a way for China to breed more intelligent children. And it’s the largest such effort in the world. More specifically, BGI Shenzen has “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 which determine human intelligence.”

“But there’s probably a better, less terrifying and Gattaca-reminiscent way to make an entire generation of kids smarter with already extant technology and no hint of scary eugenics: Make playing chess mandatory in school,” the article reads.

While China may be paving the way for genetically-optimal brainiacs in giant genomics labs, Armenia is modifying its youth’s intelligence the old fashioned way—with smart policy and good education. As such, Armenia’s actually more likely to boost its youth’s IQ than China—using gaming technology that’s been around for over a thousand years.

“Aremenia is the only nation in the world where chess is a compulsory part of school curriculum, thanks to a $3 million initiative passed in 2011. Beginning two years ago, chess has been a mandatory in the third and fourth grades—students play chess two hours a week every week for two years. Part of the program’s aim is to improve children’s logic and reasoning skills. But, as with China’s more sci-fi approach, part of the aim is to engineer a generation of smarter, savvier children.

The article posted on continues that “There is a decent body of scientific evidence that suggests that learning and playing chess can actually raise a child’s IQ—no test tubes required. University of Sydney professor (and chess grandmaster) Dr. Peter Dauvergne has long argued that chess has significant educational benefits, and that a raised IQ is chief among them.”

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