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« Future Forecasting | Main | Monstrous Hybrids Alive »

October 03, 2007


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Tom Craver

My first reaction to the title was "Hurrah!" More geniuses, Mankind does better in the long run, I think.

But that's an awfully long list of "what if"s - how exactly do they check for high intelligence - let alone Einstein level intelligence?

Brian Wang

I think it would be a matter of significantly shifting the odds.

DNA chips can screen for 500,000 DNA markers at a time now.

If all of the genes that would hinder intelligence are tossed then it could tilt the odds in favor a lot.

The thing is if you get pretty good and screening and identifying what to look for then it not that big a step to using gene therapy, gene editing, RNA interference, RNA activation etc... to make all of the desired changes.

I view it as redraws in poker to get a better hand. Even super-eugenics is too slow and only allows hand selection at the start.

There is metagenomics though which effects what genes are expressed and change based on lifestyle. So you would have to be constantly checking and adjusting the metagenomic expression.

Tom Craver

I presume DNA testing of gametes would be a destructive process - so they'd have to clone them in order to be able to test them and still have viable gametes to mix and match for the desired genes.

Seems like a simpler alternative would be to mix and match the sperm/eggs of a set of highly intelligent and creative people, force the zygotes to "twin" multiple times before they differentiate, bring one or two copies to term (freeze the rest), give the children excellent and stimulating developmental environments, test them at age 5 and start churning out twins of the smartest/most creative.

John B

Brian -

Removing known disease-affected genomes from procreation may be one thing, but "all of the genes that would hinder intelligence" are not known, are they?


Brian Wang

Not all of the genes are known, but there is growing base of knowledge of positive and negative genes for intelligence.

List of notable human genes

CHRM2 positive correlation with increased intelligence

Recessive alleles around at about 325 loci increase mental retardation
Mental retardation genes AGTR2

ZDHHC9 gene found (severe mental retardation)

intelligence enhancement genes

Scientists reverse mental retardation in mice (FMR1, FRMP)

Cognitive enhancement survey

Proper Training is very important to take advantage of genetic abilities

Deliberate practice entails more than simply repeating a task — playing a C-minor scale 100 times, for instance, or hitting tennis serves until your shoulder pops out of its socket. Rather, it involves setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.

Their work, compiled in the “Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance,” a 900-page academic book makes a rather startling assertion: the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers — whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming — are nearly always made, not born.

The odds can be shifted.
It is like Yahtzi or poker. Let us say we identify several 1 and 2 correlated genes where we want to get a high intelligence. We are able to sometimes substitute or 1 for 3 or sometimes a 6. Or maybe we just get a certain number of rerolls. With rerolls sometimes it is higher and sometimes not.

For cards it is like picking starting hands based on seeing 2 out of seven cards (selecting based on known information the starting embryo) and then also being given 1 redraw (genetic engineering after birth)
Also, with epigenetic control or RNA interference one could inactivate one or two of the cards that is known to be bad. You keep skewing things towards superior hands.

John B

Agreed re: skewing the odds. Thanks for the clarification, Brian.

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