After Harvard geneticist George Church told “60 Minutes” that he was developing a dating app that matches users based on their DNA, critics quickly took to the internet to decry the plan. Many compared the app, which we now know is called Digid8, to the eugenics movement, which advocates selective breeding based on genes.
According to Church’s FAQ page, the Digid8 team isn’t trying to force anyone to do anything — a key distinction between it and the notorious eugenics movements that existed in the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere between 1884 and 1974.
“We are opposed to the eugenics of interfering with families having healthy lives and children (governmental or any other form of social bullying),” he wrote, “whether this is via killing, forced sterilization, imprisonment, etc.”
However, that’s not to say Church is opposed to giving people the option of choosing their mates based on DNA. His FAQ notes Digid8’s support of Dor Yeshorim, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that provides Jewish people with genetic screening in the hopes of eliminating diseases common among that population.
“The point is to improve carefully vetted options,” he concludes, “rather than ideological coercion.”
READ MORE: Here are some actual facts about George Church’s DNA dating company [MIT Technology Review]
More on the app: Famous Geneticist’s Dating App Would Match Users Based on DNA