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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Could a Single Gene Boost Your Intelligence, Guys? If You Lost It? -- Bio, Soc

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According to this news article, the presence of a single gene in men can reduce their average IQ by up to 20 points, while having no effect on women who carry it. The article notes:
Scientists in North Carolina say they have identified a gene that affects IQ, a finding that, if confirmed, would be a significant step toward understanding the genetic basis for intelligence.

The new research could also have ethical implications because the effect of the gene appears to be quite dramatic: The scientists say that males who inherit a particular version of the gene have, on average, an IQ that is 20 points lower than males who don't.

"I have to admit, the ramifications of it are great," said Randy Jirtle, the Duke University biologist who led the new research, noting that current genetic testing techniques can easily determine which males have the gene version and which ones do not.

However, he stressed that the IQ results in his research were based on a group average; individual males carrying the gene version had a wide range of IQ scores. While females also can carry the gene variation, it does not appear to affect their IQ, he said.

This is one of those curious medical questions. If it turns out this gene has no real benefits, and yet it knocks down the intelligence of the average male carrier by something comparable to 20 points (with an American adult average of around 100 or 110 being common for most tests), then should we choose to turn this gene off? Or perhaps replace it altogether using gene therapy?

Remember, fixing problems related to just one gene is far easier when using gene therapy than when dealing with a whole set of interrelated genes. So what do we do?

And what impact will it have on our society if we do improve the intelligence of a large part of our society (wherever you may live) by an average of 20% or so?


Future Imperative

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