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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

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

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I just received a comment on this last article on a single gene that seems to reduce IQ by an average of 20 points in the men who have it. In that article I point out that if this one gene proves to actually reduce the intelligence of these men by anything like an average of 20% and it could be neutralized through gene therapy or pharmaceuticals, then we have to ask ourselves, should we do that?

And should we make those resources to the general population, for any thus afflicted? One person responded:
I'm still suspicious of IQ tests. I don't like teaching to the test. I can't favor skewing genes for a test.

I replied:

Actually, I'm not proposing that we engage in mass gene therapy for any population based on just this one study. This gene may have some survival value on its own... or it might be a defect that hasn't been eliminated because a lot of men can get by without high intelligence (especially in an ancient or prehistoric setting).

But the point is, you first want to know "Does this gene have other benefits?" Then, "On average, how much will eliminating this gene help those people affected by it?" And finally, "How safely can we change, remove or neutralize this gene?"

If your answers are something like, "No," "About a 20% intelligence boost" and "Very," you'll end up having to seriously consider the implications of enabling a change. For example, allowing any U.S. citizen affected to undergo a safe gene therapy, covered by Medicare.

I'm not proposing this course of action (for one, I haven't heard definitive answers to the three questions above). But I am pointing out the issue. That's kind of what I do. =)


Future Imperative

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