Dating apps are the go-to nowadays whether you’re looking for love, a fling or just trying to meet new people. When we’re sorting through those people the things we tend to take into consideration before swiping right include age, proximity, physical attractiveness, common interests, etc. The one thing everyone seems to overlook when trying to meet their match, and that Harvard geneticist George Church has put front and center in his new dating app is DNA compatibility; all in an effort to eradicate hereditary diseases.
The app has not yet been developed, but theoretically, its purpose is to prevent two people from matching if they had similar genetic mutations that could result in rare, hereditary diseases. Although it may sound like such an app would make your dating pool a lot smaller, Church insists that his idea offers users more choices rather than limit them. He said: “Rather than restricting people’s options for their health and their families, we’re expanding them.”
The geneticist has immense hope for the future of his app and makes big claims about it that seem a tad unrealistic in my opinion. In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” he claimed that his app could be the key to the elimination of all genetic diseases. He was asked by the interviewer if he was suggesting that if everyone has their genome sequenced and the correct matches are made, that all of these diseases could be eliminated. “Right,” Church replied.
Some concerns that were sparked by the idea of this app include whether or not it would promote more stigma against disabled and chronically sick people, trans people or certain races. Church retorted that it would only restrict matches that would result in offspring afflicted with “illnesses that cause very premature deaths, often with pain and a lot of medical costs”.
He also said it would probably rule out only 5% of a person’s potential matches, which is a contradiction to his previous claims of “expanding people’s options”.
I’m not quite who this app’s target audience is, because as far as I know most people do not have their genome sequenced; nor are they willing to consider their DNA compatibility when picking a partner. After all, two carriers of a recessive gene for a genetic disease still have a chance of having a healthy child, and the average person would be willing to take that risk in order to have a family with the one they love.