Get Smart

We are now at the point where we can realistically expect to see interventions that significantly increase human intelligence.

Some approaches build on our real but limited understanding of how the brain works.  For example, by adding an extra copy of the NR2B gene, the Doogie mouse developed better memory. Today there are about 30 genetically modified mouse strains with improved memory, most making use of various tweaks of the same enzyme path influenced by the NR2B gene.

But I am not going to talk about those here. My favored methods lean very heavily on natural selection. The beauty of these approaches is that you don’t have to understand the mechanism. Dog breeders have successfully developed dogs with special behaviors without having any understanding of the neurochemistry of those behaviors. Medieval farmers
developed Guernsey cows without knowing a thing about how milk is produced. In a sense, of course, even the understand-everything approach leans heavily on natural selection, since it tries to comprehend an already-existing complex phenomenon, rather than invent it from scratch.

I should probably address one concern before I go further. Some people might worry that since natural selection optimizes traits, increasing human intelligence would naturally upset some balance, mess up some precise tradeoff, and so such attempts are foredoomed.  Forgeddaboutit.  The tradeoffs are optimized, all right, but for past environments, not the present.  We have a lot more elbow room nowadays; you could say that the trade space is roomier. Certain costs of intelligence that were once crucial are no longer.  If a more active brain used up 10% more calories, that’s a sacrifice that most Americans would be willing to make.  If higher intelligence requires a larger brain, well, we have C-sections.

I see five feasible approaches: selection, spell-checking the genome, QTLs for intelligence, cloning, and hybrid vigor.

The first approach, old-fashioned selection, is powerful, conceptually simple, but slow. It’s already happened. The gradual increase of human intelligence over the past couple of million years, the existing differences between the races, and the increased intelligence of genetically isolated merchant castes such as the Parsees and Ashkenazi Jews are all products of natural selection. A government with consistent and lasting policies could select for intelligence and achieve striking results in a few centuries, maybe less.  But no state ever has, and no existing government seems interested.

Natural selection for intelligence may furnish us with some examples of alleles that noticeably boost intelligence (such as the Ashkenazi sphingolipid mutation).  If so, those alleles could used in other, faster approaches.

The second approach, spell-checking the genome, might be also called taking out the trash. The idea is simply to fix most or all of the broken genes.  There are a lot of them.  The effects of genetic errors do not merely take the form of serious diseases like PKU, which causes severe retardation in untreated individuals with two copies of the defective gene.  Carriers of PKU, those with only one copy of the defective gene, also suffer ill effects, mainly a slight depression of IQ.  Everyone carries single copies of damaged genes that would be lethal in double dose – in fact, geneticists estimate that the average individual carries as many as five lethal genes.   As a carrier, you may produce half the normal level of some enzyme, which usually does not cause severe trouble in itself but does decrease efficiency. The average individual, indeed every individual, is thought to carry many more than five less serious genetic errors, perhaps as many as 100, as these less serious errors are only slowly eliminated by natural selection. In other words, every person has many hidden genetic flaws that reduce performance and efficiency in many ways. The total
impact of these errors is thought to be quite large, and must surely be very significant for human intelligence, which is probably the most complex of all adaptations.

If we could edit the genome, we could fix them all.  Probably no one would object to fixing any particular genetic error, and that must mean that there could be no objections to fixing all of them.  After all, he who has said A must also say Z! The difference between humans whose DNA has been spell-checked and normals is likely to be large. They would almost certainly be smarter and healthier, and this kind of change is, I think, guaranteed to work and be safe. We know that the unbroken form of any given gene is safe, since almost everyone else already has it.  You could compare these spell-checked humans to a Lexus – every little thing is done just right. There is no innovation at all in this kind of genetic intervention, almost no risk, and the resulting advantages are likely to be very significant.

The third approach is to find and take advantage of the genes that are responsible for the fraction of IQ variation that is not due to mutational pressure, not just caused by typos.
These take the form of multiple alleles of a particular gene, one associated with slightly higher intelligence and the other(s) with slightly lower intelligence.  Each variant is fairly common and not thought to be a genetic error. If we could identify these polymorphic genes affecting IQ, and were able to edit the human genome, we could choose the variants associated with increased IQ.  If we made such changes in most of the genes with significant effects on IQ, we could produce individuals with high IQs, quite possibly higher than any ever observed.  Since no single gene seems to account for much of the variation – at least in the populations we have studied so far – this would require fairly heavy editing of the genome, perhaps comparable with that required for spell-checking.

Rare, regional IQ-boosting variants may also be valuable, just as the genes of wild relatives of domesticated crops can be useful, or the genes of regional landraces.

We know that it is possible for healthy individuals to have a higher-than-average numbers of alleles favoring intelligence, but we do not know the consequences of having the high-IQ  version of every possible gene. There has never been any such person.  So, guided by experience, we might feel safe in imitating the QTL constellation of a healthy, successful, and stable individual with high IQ, but as for going all the way.. It’s a bit scary. The kid might go into convulsions, or explode in a flash of green light.  Better to be cautious.

The knowledge that a particular high-IQ QTL setting works could be very useful, and the only real test is whether it has worked before.  Thus, knowledge of the genotypes of highly intelligent and creative individuals would be valuable.  Robbing the graves of the great might become very lucrative. Before we’re done with this, we may have armed guards protecting Feynman’s tomb. And of  course someone is going to steal (and sequence) Einstein’s brain (1).

This leads us to the fourth approach, old-fashioned cloning. The clone of a very intelligent person will also be very intelligent.  Many people say that this is not necessarily true, and, strictly speaking, they’re right – we could accidentally drop the kid on his head – but the IQs of identical twins are, on average, very similar.  There are not a huge number of high-achieving twins, let alone twin pairs, perhaps in part because twinhood itself is slightly disadvantageous, but consider the odds of a pair of identical twins both being sought-after string theorists or astrophysicists (not mere rocket scientists).  It happens.  Another strength of cloning is that it duplicates complex non-additive interactions between genes, which we don’t know enough to design on purpose. Cloning by itself will not produce individuals that are smarter than anyone has ever been before; still, a society in which John Von Neumann was the norm would be … interesting. This approach is relatively low-tech, since we are able to clone some mammalian species already, nor does it require any genetic editing.

Fifth, we might able to harness hybrid vigor. Sometimes hybrids of two populations are considerably more vigorous and productive than members of either parent population. The best-known example is hybrid corn, which is genetics’s biggest practical success.  This can mean being smarter, as well.  For example, mules are stronger, hardier, have more endurance and are more intelligent than  either of their parental species.

Hybrid vigor is unpredictable, in that some pairs of parental populations produce improved offspring and some don’t.  Two populations whose exhibit hybrid vigor are said to ‘nick’. It may be that some human populations ‘nick’. If so, we would have a practical zero-tech way of producing enhanced humans. Of course, with our usual luck, one or both of the two nicking parental populations would be rare, obnoxious and only available by  paying inordinate sums to some third-world dictator.  Worse yet, within a generation or two, prominent enhanced members of our society would be spouting eloquent bullshit about why we have to intervene in some pointless geopolitical dispute involving either or both of their gormless parental populations.

Mixtures of these approaches are possible.  Take someone highly intelligent, spell-check his genome, and then clone him.  It should work.

Having no design innovations, humans enhanced via any of my five preferred approaches would be fully back-compatible. Unions with ordinary humans would be fully
fertile.  The children of spell-checked people and normals would have about half the usual amount of genetic load and would still be mighty impressive.

A country or tribe that did this first, on a large scale, would be competitively superior to everyone else.  This might be the case even if they had been constitutionally competitively inferior before. In fact I see a bunch of losers as the most likely to take such a radical step – not to invent it, but to take it.   After someone did it, the rest of the world would have to take some kind of drastic catch-up measure or sleep with the Neanderthals.   Frankly, I don’t see why they wouldn’t just go ahead and do some spell-checking themselves. But they could also, say,  make a pre-emptive thermonuclear strike, unleash a tailored virus,  fire up the time machine and  nip the whole thing in the pre-bud, go cyborg (Mechs versus Shapers),  or escape temporarily through space colonization.

1.   Westminster Abbey would be a prime target. Shakespeare would be more
valuable than Einstein – he could write scripts.  Of course, there’s a curse.

‘ Good friend, for Iesus’ sake forbear
To dig the dust beneath these stones.
Blest be he who leaves me there,
And curst be he who moves my bones.’

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83 Responses to Get Smart

  1. Jim says:

    In science fiction this usually ends badly. There’s a reason why The Federation outlawed this stuff, the genetically superior have little tolerance for “equality” with the monkeys and you get “The Wrath of Kahn.”

    • The key part of this article is “After all, he who has said A must also say Z!” If we grant that the transmission of human life can be modified like this, then we will have spillover effects. It’s happened before.

      Margaret Sanger, George Bernard Shaw, and all of the other cool people promised that free love and artificial contraception would make society so much better. Instead, we have good-for-nothings breeding like…well…good-for-nothings and the hard-working smart people barely have children at all.

      Pope Paul VI made four predictions about the effects of artificial birth control: it would lower standards of morality, it would make men disrespect women, it would make infidelity more common, and governments would start shoving them down everyone’s throats. That’s four for four. Once again, what the cool people promised did not happen while what the bigots prophesied came to pass.

  2. dearieme says:

    Perhaps rather than worrying about IQ, what about making us better able to cope in a world awash with antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

    • Nyk says:

      And WHO is going to find ways to cope with resistant bacteria? High IQ people. The more of them, the more ways to cope will be discovered.

      • dearieme says:

        No use being high IQ if you’re dead.

      • Nyk says:

        If there are few high IQ people to think up ways to cope with those bacteria, people will die anyway. The major bottleneck in science is not with the funding, it’s with the scientists – there are simply not that many people with IQs and motivation levels high enough to discover new things at this point in time.

      • Tim says:

        Cochran’s methods here for increasing IQ lean heavily on natural selection.

        So using high IQ to cope with resistant bacteria is an indirect way of relying on natural selection to deal with it.

        You can use natural selection more directly to cope with resistant bacteria. You don’t need high IQ for it.

  3. dave chamberlin says:

    “In fact I see a bunch of losers as the most likely to take such a radical step- not to invent it but to take it.”

    My money is on China, and I don’t see them as losers. If they can impose one child per family on their people they can easily impose genetic engineering that increases intellegence. Spell checking the genome might be an easier sell then the others and opposition to it may evaporate quickly, if it works.

    I would guess people are going to think Cochran is just another sci-fi dreamer for another ten ot twenty years, and then when the advances in genetics keep coming and these possibilities start to get serious, then the kooks will come out fighting it tooth and nail. They are not going to like it one little bit when they find out not only is evolution real. they are next.

    • melykin says:

      People in China are already quite smart, on average. But just being smart isn’t enough. Is there some way to select for traits such as honesty and kindness as well as brains? Or are these things more cultural?

      Some interesting books about China:
      “Why China Will Never Rule the World”

      “Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the China Production Game”

      “Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage”

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Japanese-made products in the 1950’s were of poor quality. The same for those of Taiwan and South Korea in the 1970’s. It is true that many Chinese-made products today are of poor quality. However, I see no reason to believe that the Chinese are incapable of ascending the techno-quality ladder that their cousins have previously done. I see no reason why China cannot become a fully developed country by 2030-2040 period. Whether they will be “hegemonic”, or even interested in being hegemonic, is a another issue.

      • melykin says:

        I’m sure China is capable now of producing high quality products–Ipads for example. However, I don’t believe they will be a fully developed country any time soon. Communism seems to leave a tremendous amount of corruption and dysfunction in its wake. I was especially shocked to learn from the book “Silent Tears” that babies born with, for example, cleft lips, are frequently abandoned by their parents and sometimes die of starvation and neglect in orphanages. No one is willing to pay for surgery for them, and because they can’t suck properly they don’t get enough to eat. This is happening in China in the 21st century, even as China is lending money to the West and many Chinese people are becoming extremely wealthy.

      • Nyk says:

        I wish China the best, but in spite of knowing that they have higher IQs than Whites I’m still worried about them for historic reasons. They simply didn’t have what it takes (creativity? non-conformism? curiousity? cultural-specific traits?) to even come close to the discoveries of lower-average-IQ Whites. There are no Chinese Euclids, Galileos, Newtons. This doesn’t bode well for them.

      • AG says:

        Greg Cochran methods here actually would help Chinese take care of those problems you guys listed here. These methods could help them not only increasing IQ but also verbal skill, creativity, many other talents.

        A lot of Chinese problems can be traced back weak verbal skill which is critical to boast your value (of creativity, sale, income, achievement, ect). Greg Cochran provided brilliant solution to their problems.

      • Leon Kautsky says:

        I read the first book: Troy Parfitt knows a thing or two about banging hordes of Chinese girls, but not so much about history. As for the comment above mine, I have two remarks:
        1. Some measures of creativity correlate strongly with mental illness and cross-racial differences in those forms of creativity are well-explained by differential rates of mental illness.
        2. The “no Chinese Galileos, Euclids…” is absurd. Besides being in your history book, Newton, Euclid and Galileo do not belong to the same culturald or genetic lineage. There are *loads* of things invented in China before the West. The most prolific inventor of all time is Japanese.

        They will be fine.

      • dlr says:

        yes of course, honesty and kindness, as well as conscientiousness and cooperativeness are highly heritable, like all behavioral traits. Lots, and lots of room on the upside for all of them.

  4. SteveB says:

    Westminster Abbey would be a prime target. Shakespeare would be more
    valuable than Einstein

    Alternatively one could go to the Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, where he is actually buried.

  5. gcochran9 says:

    You’re right. Oops.

  6. j says:

    The techniques for breeding an improved population are available, yet no one is interested. Even where the mechanism to implement is in place, like cryobanks, it is ignored. Even Himmler’s highly selected SS was employed more as suicide troops than studs. I cant find one example in history of human meliorist effort. Why is that?

    BTW, the Holstein cow is far superior to the Guernsey.

    • Depends on whether you want cream or milk.

      • billswift says:

        You’re confused, it is Jersey cows that produce more cream. Guernsey milk is nearly identical to Holstein, a slightly higher fat percent, but less total production.

      • j says:

        Thanks Billswift. Dutch cattle (Holstein) is big, very productive and have a sweet disposition. Guernsheys are smaller and of very bad temperament.

      • pconroy says:

        @billswift, @j

        In terms of Size and Quantity of milk produced:
        Jersey < Guernsey < British Frisian Guernsey > British Frisian > Holstein

        I grew up on a dairy farm in Ireland, and for more Northern climates, Frisians are hardier than Holsteins, who are very finicky – basically you need to supplement Holsteins with cattle nuts, whereas Frisians can live off of pasture/silage year round

      • pconroy says:

        @billswift, @j

        In terms of Size and Quantity of milk produced:
        1. Holstein
        2. British Frisian
        3. Guernsey
        4. Jersey

        In terms of Butterfat
        1. Jersey
        2. Guernsey
        3. British Frisian
        4. Holstein

        I grew up on a dairy farm in Ireland, and for more Northern climates, Frisians are hardier than Holsteins, who are very finicky – basically you need to supplement Holsteins with cattle nuts, whereas Frisians can live off of pasture/silage year round

  7. Anonymous says:

    A measure of fitness is reproductive success. When it comes to women, most guys care only about how hot they are. Smart women tend to go to college, then possibly law school, medical school… and by the time they get out, not quite so hot anymore or at the very end of their pretty years. Therefore, I respectfully submit that in our present society with no selective pressure, smart is decidedly not fit for women. I think that what’s happening with smart women more than compensates for the enhanced reproductive success of smart men.

    Ha, how about this:
    “By comparison, in England, which has one of the highest percentages of women without children in the world, 22 percent of all women are childless. According to the new Center for Work-Life Policy study, 43 percent of the women in their sample of corporate professionals between the ages of 33 and 46 were childless. The rate of childlessness among the Asian American professional women in the study was a staggering 53 percent.”

    • Bob Arctor says:

      The typical college graduate is ~22 and the average law school grad is a couple of years older. That’s the dead end of their marriageable years? In any case, why can’t they meet a partner in college? What an utterly strange comment.

      Secondly, all the studies done on male IQ and fertility (e.g. Meisenberg) have also found significant negative correlations, albeit smaller than for females.

    • Sideways says:

      This is moronic. 30 year old women can get laid at will. College educated women have terrible TFRs because they choose not to have multiple kids. Yes, this effectively makes them less fit, but it has nothing to do with how attractive men find them..

    • dlr says:

      Remember, our current level of low birth rates is a very temporary situation. People who don’t like kids enough to make the sacrifices associated with having kids are rapidly eliminating themselves from the gene pool. People who DO like kids enough to reproduce, especially people who like kids so much they want eight or ten of them, are a minority right now, but in a few generations, no one will be left except their descendants. I expect philoprogenitiveness is highly heritable, and polygenic, thus as their descendants interbreed, we will get a population that wants kids to a stronger and stronger degrees. Due to cheap and easy birth control we are going through a population bottleneck now, but when we come out the other side, everyone will want children : a lot. It will be a core emotional desire, like sex is now. Maybe even stronger. Evolution always wins.

  8. Georgia Resident says:

    “If they can impose one child per family on their people they can easily impose genetic engineering that increases intelligence.”

    Since in China the one-child policy really only applies to the hoipolloi, while the Chinese upper class is conveniently exempted, one could argue that China already has a eugenic policy.

  9. Steve Sailer says:

    How long is this going to take? In 1999 I figured this stuff was coming up pretty soon, but now in 2012 it seems like it will be way out past my expected lifetime.

    • Abelard Lindsey says:

      I didn’t expect this stuff that soon in 1999.

    • AMac says:

      The first generation of tools that Greg Cochran is visualizing are already in clinical trials. Search for “ZFN” (Zinc Finger Nucleases). Being evaluated as a way to alter the gene for the major HIV receptor in white blood cells, thus preventing or slowing the virus’ incapacitation of the immune system in infected individuals. A program to cure Hemophilia B by reconstituting a functional Factor IX gene is about to begin trialing (it works in mice, FWIW).

      A separate, recently discovered/invented toolkit is also generating excitement; seach for “TALENs”. Like ZFNs, these are artificial proteins that can be harnessed to alter DNA, such as for spell-checking. A few years away from clinical use, though. The FDA is very cautious and very slow in these matters.

      By this point in their timeline, the Draka were already accomplished in most of the five approaches that Greg describes. 😉

    • dave chamberlin says:

      I agree with you, but hopefully the next decade gives us more encouragement than the last one. I honestly don’t see real progess until countries and corporations start spending some real money on this. They will when the rewards (or the fear of falling behind) becomes a whole lot clearer to the powers that be. It is still a long long way off because the complexity of life is staggering. One reason I favor China to make the real breakthroughs is because they will have the venture capital, the ambition, and the ruthlessness to do what they damn well please.

    • TWS says:

      Within twenty years. Everything is always ‘twenty years away’.

  10. Sam says:

    Unfortunately all of these strategies enhance the intelligence of future generations which I don’t give a shit about. I want *my* intelligence greatly enhanced.

    Where is my Larry Niven style Protector-stage virus? Get to work on it, people.

  11. Jim says:

    What if the genetically engineered individuals do not reproduce any better than natural individuals? At present there does not seem to be strong selection for high IQ individuals. Are the John Von Neumann’s
    of the present population outbreeding entertainment stars or atheletes or for that matter the average ghetto pimp?

    Also genetically engineered individuals would generally, at least at first, be breeding with natural individuals so the effect of genetic engineering would go down rapidily over a few generations as the
    descendents of genetically engineered individuals mixed with natural individuals and new copying errors
    also began to accumulate.

    For a program of genetic engineering to work (at least quickly) either the genetically engineered individuals would have to have a strong reproductive advantage or the reproduction of natural individuals would have to be controlled requiring a powerful totalitarian state. If the latter the simplest solution would be to kill all the natural individuals.

    Even then with a population consisting solely of genetically engineered individuals continuing control of reproduction would be required or new copying errors would be introduced.

    For domestic animals we can control their reproduction but is this feasible with human populations? Even with domestic cats we find ourselves with a large population of feral cats. Maybe we would have something like the world of H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” – a population of genetically engineered individuals along side a feral population of wild humans.

    • gwern says:

      > What if the genetically engineered individuals do not reproduce any better than natural individuals? At present there does not seem to be strong selection for high IQ individuals. Are the John Von Neumann’s of the present population outbreeding entertainment stars or atheletes or for that matter the average ghetto pimp?

      The nice thing about technology is that we tend to hold onto it, and what’s done once can be done twice, or maybe even more times!

      (Also, biographies of von Neumann mention he was a ladies’ man, so it was an issue of choice/preference and not capability; if he had proper encouragement, I’m sure he could’ve had as many kids as Fisher.)

  12. billswift says:

    >The tradeoffs are optimized, all right, but for past environments, not the present. We have a lot more elbow room nowadays; you could say that the trade space is roomier.

    Also for differential reproduction, not individual or even group intelligence. In the absence of contraception, Bill Clinton would be the epitome of natural selection.

  13. An idea from computer programming may be apropos: bug-for-bug compatible.

    A mis-designed program gets used in a tool chain. Other programs in the tool chain get designed around the bugs in the first program and will break if those bugs get fixed. See The Unix-Haters Handbook or the history of MS-DOS for examples. The human body is a lot more complex than an operating system, ergo…

    You alluded to that in the middle of your article: “We know that it is possible for healthy individuals to have a higher-than-average numbers of alleles favoring intelligence, but we do not know the consequences of having the high-IQ version of every possible gene. There has never been any such person. So, guided by experience, we might feel safe in imitating the QTL constellation of a healthy, successful, and stable individual with high IQ, but as for going all the way.. It’s a bit scary. The kid might go into convulsions, or explode in a flash of green light. Better to be cautious.”

    Who’s going to be cautious? The scientist doing the tinkering or the poor son of a bitch who has to live with the consequences?

    • gcochran says:

      Deleterious mutations are rare: only a small fraction of people have a bad version of any given gene. If you fix all of those, the states you create are ones that work fine in 99.9% of the population. You really are just fixing defects, each one rare. I doubt if it is a problem. Anyhow, we can always check it out first on mice and chimps…

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  15. whatever says:

    Why would a perfect self-replicating von Neumann’s machine give a ***** about humanity? If it is really genetically perfect, all it would care will be replicating, not discovering new antibiotics.
    The average German Sheppard dog has the IQ of an approximately 2 years old human toddler (distinguishes between triangle, circle and rectangle), or about an IQ of 20; which falls within the lower end of human intelligence, still, it is within human IQ;
    We do not consider dogs to be intelligent species (can’t pass the mirror test) or humans.
    actually, we keep them on a leash. I would not be surprised if Cochran’s perfect being has an IQ or 300; there is no natural law, that puts a qualitative or quantitative limit to the IQ; There are ants of IQ of 1 and there are dogs with IQ of 20, which is 20 times higher. There are humans, with an IQ 5 times higher of that of dogs; no real natural restriction, that forbids IQ five times higher than the IQ of an average human.
    There will be no surprise if Cochran’s creature somehow reaches an IQ of 350 or 500; why care for creatures with an IQ of 100? It will likely care mostly of self-replication, since that is what genetic perfection would mean in terms of nature – a perfect or even exaggerated trend and ability to proliferate and replicate.
    However, I think I understand gcochran9. Such creature might be able to colonize space and proliferate human genetic heritage in the Galaxy. Worthy? Not too sure.
    Something tells me, that this might not happen;
    Cloning is a different thing; and there is something else besides cloning – enough preserved frozen reproductive material collected to make the existence of the entire gender pointless in therms of efficiency; it is less exposed to natural mutagens. There are already companies, that offer the same service to females – to extract and freeze human egg-cells, that could be fertilized in vitro at a later age and in convenient time for the career of customer – let say when the customer retires.
    One way or another, any of Cochran’s scenario might happen or might be already happening;
    as for artificially driven selection of particular trait in humans – it has been already done before. In Spartans. Ended with demographic collapse and demise.

    • j says:

      Whatever, You mention Spartans as one historical society that implemented artificially driven selection. We know very little of the Spartan reproductive habits but it seems to have led to an ever contracting demographic base and their permanent warfare policy was totally dysgenic. Apparently high IQ societies fall into a low fertility trap and collapse. Like modern Ashkenazi communities, like the Parsis, like many others.

  16. Greying Wanderer says:

    In my experience very high IQ people are almost as dysfunctional as very low IQ. Without the bulk of middling sorts to keep the support mechanism going a society of 130+ people would starve imo. Now robot helots might fix that for a while but of course sooner or later the 130+ would create robot soldiers to fight their wars and we all know how that would end.

    However selecting to maintain a minimum average is neccessary and selecting for good health is full of win. Even then though i’d go the slow stock breeder way just to be safe.

    • Nyk says:

      I for one would be satisfied if the average world IQ were the same as the Ashkenazi average IQ, 110. That might be enough to discover artificial ways to enhance human intelligence, as the transhumanists predict.

      • dave chamberlin says:

        just think of the decrease in human misery if all we did was fix stupid

        • saintonge235 says:

          What we need to fix is foolishness, far more than stupidity. When I look at the great fuck-ups of relatively recent history, we find highly ‘intelligent’ people doing incredibly destructive things. “Stupid” people would have destroyed the USSR fairly early, “smart” people supported it.

  17. says:

    “A country or tribe that did this first, on a large scale, would be competitively superior to everyone else.”

    Many of its ‘improved’ citizens might decide to emigrate and enjoy high status and earnings in other countries, where there’s less competition for them.

    • spandrell says:

      Awesome. Sharing excellence with the world. Can’t wait.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      A country or tribe that did this first could sell their technology to prospective parents in countries where it doesn’t exist for a fortune. Illegality wouldn’t be any more of a hindrance than any other prohibition of a desired and expensive product. Couples would go on a cruise (in international waters where there are no laws) on a luxury ship that just happens to have the appropriate labs on board and the Mrs would come back pregnant with a future extremely fit MIT student. I’m presuming the country that did this first would do this in a way that would build allies because they definately would have some enemies. The opposition to this technology would find themselves feeling more and more like the Amish with every passing generation.

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  19. ron says:

    what about smart drugs that promote neuron growth? cerebrolysin comes to mind. being tested on the sick but why not use on the healthy?

  20. Rachelle says:

    Unfortunately, given our ‘social justice’ oriented society we seem to be selecting strongly for stupidity.

    On the other hand, commerce may be intervening in a small way in the opposite direction. A friend of my who could not conceive on her own was wealthy enough to select a sperm donor from a catalog of contributors with attractive qualities–intelligence and health being high among them–and then she went to the catalog for the female donors and selected similar qualities. After in vitro fertilization the mix was implanted in her and she carried the child to term. She repeated the process and then gave birth to twins. So far all three children are healthy, attractive and intelligent. Apparently the donor advertising was not too far off the mark.

    I think it is wonderful that she could do this; but in sheer numbers, the welfare, crack mothers are likely to out compete those we want to reproduce selectively.

  21. Sean says:

    Wouldn’t natural selection have led to ‘insurance’ against most ‘typos’ in the form of back up pathways and spare capacity in metabolic networks, to take up the slack for the inevitable weak links? EG a bottleneck at typo damaged enzyme – that induces the other parts of the system to kick in with compensatory boosting of activity upstream or downstream of the problem. I’m wondering if fixing typos would make an appreciable difference.

    It works in mice, but are there human genes for IQ with a big enough effect to make it possible to boost IQ with relatively minor tweaks? Humans may be already massively optimized for IQ. Single genes with an appreciable big effect, the ones I know about, seem to have disadvantages, like short shortsightedness or Tay Sach’s . The research that I’ve seen on humans suggest the big effect IQ genes don’t exist.

    Cloning a proven super IQ person would work. But computing power is advancing fast. Do you think computers’ will have intelligence similar to and transcending biological intelligence soon? If so, I expect no one will bother with troublesome biological units.

    • spandrell says:

      So Von Neumann didn’t exist.

      Also go to Northern Australia and tell me that humans are massively optimized for IQ.

    • gcochran9 says:

      It seems that most mutations happen in males, due to many rounds of replication in germ cells. Thus you would expect to see higher amount of mutation pressure in the children of older men – and you do. The rates of autism, manic-depression, schizophrenia are clearly higher, and there is also IQ depression.

      So you’re wrong. Although there are some backup pathways, more typos means more trouble. I might also add that there is a big range of IQ in humans, most of that range is due to genetic differences, and a lot of it must be due to varying amounts of typos.

      • Sean says:

        Repeated consanguineous marriage in Jews must have taken out many typos, possibly that partially explains Von Neumann. But if so, in a Englishman whose mother’s parents were third cousins, one would expect to see sub optimal intellectual attainment. Didn’t seem to do Darwin any harm though. (But then his mother was the daughter of Joshua Wedgwood). Sewall Wright & siblings – all seriously brainy.

      • Genobollocks says:

        > IQ depression
        Two recent studies found it, four to five recent ones didn’t (one in the same sample as one of the studies that found IQ depression). Aggregated sample sizes of the null or positive effect studies are more than 20 times as big. So, meta-analytically we do not find IQ depression with advancing paternal age.

    • saintonge235 says:

      There is no reason to assume that computers will EVER have intelligence. The whole idea is superstition.

      The only thing we can say for sure about intelligence is that we have no idea what it is.

  22. TWS says:

    What I think everything is missing is the ‘Titan’s Daughter’ scenario. James Blish wrote a book about genetically improved humans and I think the events in the book are more plausible than a ‘Wrath of Khan’ or anything else people imagine.

    In ‘Titan’s Daughter’ the genetically enhanced humans produce resentment, persecution, and violence simply by the nature of their being superior. Ask any Indian from Africa, Chinese in Malaysia, or the classical example, Jewish folks from Europe how much being visibly superior helps in society.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “…Jewish folks from Europe how much being visibly superior helps in society.”

      We’ll find out how much of Jewish success is and was due to innate superiority and how much was due to relative clannishness while living among a more individualistic and open majority as that open and individulistic majority is increasingly replaced by clannish peoples from around the world. Case in point: Jewish success in the Europe compared to their success in the middle east.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    We should make it mandatory for every US citizen to go through gene therapy at birth to correct any and all defects. Also it should be used to make sure that every citizen is the best capable functioning citizen he/she can be.

  25. Gorbachev says:

    Interesting effects would be observed by having a massive caste of high-IQ leaders, super-high-IQ scientists and thinkers, in the range of 200-300 IQ, and a few very very ultra-smart (but likely otherwise compromised) specialists behind the scenes.

    But the real advantage – from our current state – would be simply eliminating the lower 20-30% of socially and intellectually compromised individuals; genetic surgery on their offspring (which would be cured of the tendencies which drag down the bell curve while keeping the other ones; imagine the slums producing very smart, socially well-adapted forward-thinking kids that looked like their parents but behaved like college-bound scholarship winners).

    By cutting out this essentially nonproductive segment of the population – without interfering with any specific individual, mind you, so no enforced eugenics – you essentially oblige all parents to eliminate the genetic load in their offspring and you’ll
    – Cut health costs dramatically
    – Likely eliminate many social pathologies
    – Radically increase economic efficiency
    – Drastically infuse the culture with thinkers, artists and others
    – Eliminate the need for costly social services that never seem to help anyone

    Society would become so much more efficient, the gains from radically increased IQ would almost seem irrelevant. Eliminating the genetic load alone would give a society that adopted it such a monumental advantage over all others, it would make other societies look like haphazard groups of mindless trolls.

    There wouldn’t even need to be war. Such a society could just economically bury any society that didn’t follow the same path. When aid came, and it would, the disadvantaged society would be committing suicide by not also adopting the same strategy.

    I’d say this is all more or less entirely inevitable. There’s no way around it now. You’d need to destroy civilization to stop it at this point.

    The sooner people come to grips with this the better for everyone.

  26. Pingback: Intelligence Enhancement « The Veil War

  27. Sam Damith says:

    Hopefully the ones who take that first bold step are much more rigorous with their due diligence than the author. Such wreckless science.

  28. Pingback: Liberalism, HBD, Population, and Solutions for the Future | JayMan's Blog

  29. Pingback: Evidence for Cochran’s & Harpending’s Theory of Genetic Load: The Link Between IQ and Attractiveness | JayMan's Blog

  30. Discard says:

    Sterilize stupid and wicked people, and draft the bright daughters of Whites who support affirmative action for breeding duty. Tell their parents that they’re giving back to the community.

  31. genemachine says:

    Too slow. What we need is to reproduce the human lifecycle in a Petri dish. Skip the womb entirely for 20 generations of artificial selection followed by IVF. Has anyone tried this with mice?

  32. Pingback: Features and Bugs | JayMan's Blog

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