Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming

“Super-intelligence may be a distant prospect, but smaller, still-profound developments are likely in the immediate future. Large data sets of human genomes and their corresponding phenotypes (which are the physical and mental characteristics of the individual) will lead to significant progress in our ability to understand the genetic code—in particular, to predict cognitive ability. Detailed calculations suggest that millions of phenotype-genotype pairs will be required to tease out the genetic architecture, using advanced statistical algorithms. However, given the rapidly falling cost of genotyping, this is likely to happen in the next 10 years or so. If existing heritability estimates are any guide, the accuracy of genomic-based prediction of intelligence could be better than about half a population standard deviation (meaning better than plus or minus 10 IQ points).

Once predictive models are available, they can be used in reproductive applications, ranging from embryo selection (choosing which IVF zygote to implant) to active genetic editing (for example, using CRISPR techniques). In the former case, parents choosing between 10 or so zygotes could improve the IQ of their child by 15 or more IQ points. This might mean the difference between a child who struggles in school, and one who is able to complete a good college degree. Zygote genotyping from single cell extraction is already technically well developed, so the last remaining capability required for embryo selection is complex phenotype prediction. The cost of these procedures would be less than tuition at many private kindergartens, and of course the consequences will extend over a lifetime and beyond.

The corresponding ethical issues are complex and deserve serious attention in what may be a relatively short interval before these capabilities become a reality. Each society will decide for itself where to draw the line on human genetic engineering, but we can expect a diversity of perspectives. Almost certainly, some countries will allow genetic engineering, thereby opening the door for global elites who can afford to travel for access to reproductive technology. As with most technologies, the rich and powerful will be the first beneficiaries. Eventually, though, I believe many countries will not only legalize human genetic engineering, but even make it a (voluntary) part of their national healthcare systems.

The alternative would be inequality of a kind never before experienced in human history.”

Scientists discover how to ‘upload knowledge to your brain’ 

“Feeding knowledge directly into your brain, just like in sci-fi classic The Matrix, could soon take as much effort as falling asleep, scientists believe.

Researchers claim to have developed a simulator which can feed information directly into a person’s brain and teach them new skills in a shorter amount of time, comparing it to “life imitating art”.

They believe it could be the first steps in developing advanced software that will make Matrix-style instant learning a reality.”

Genetic Engineering Will Create Super-Intelligent Humans Within a Decade

“Because intelligence is such a strong genetic trait, rapidly advancing genetics research could result in the ability to create a class of super-intelligent humans one-thousand times higher in IQ than today’s most brilliant thinkers.

Stephen Hsu, Vice-President for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University, believes we are only a decade away from identifying the many thousands of genetic variants that control for intelligence. These variants, called alleles, could then be selected for by the parents of a soon-to-be-conceived child, and possibly genetic engineering could be done on adults to boost their intelligence.”

Genetically Engineered Superintelligent Humans Could Have an IQ of 1000

“Could future humans be ten times as intelligent as the average human? In a new study, Michigan State theoretical physicist Stephen Hsu theorizes that genetic engineering could give the next generation of humans an IQ score of 1000. To put that into perspective, Stephen Hawking has an IQ of 160, Albert Einstein is estimated between 160-190, and the highest IQ ever recorded was between 250 and 300.

“The possibility of super-intelligence follows directly from the genetic basis of intelligence. Characteristics like height and cognitive ability are controlled by thousands of genes, each of small effect,” said Hsu. In his paper, he estimates that 10,000 gene variants have an impact on a person’s intelligence, and that certain tweaks to optimize the expression of all of these genes could yield a race of humans who “exhibit cognitive ability which is roughly 100 standard deviations above average. This corresponds to more than 1,000 IQ points.”

Hsu is also an advisor for BGI, a genomics lab that is rumored to be sequencing the genomes of the world’s 2,000 most intelligent people in order to genetically engineer superintelligent designer babies.”

Forget about designer babies – gene editing won’t work on complex traits like intelligence

This week, scientists gathered in Washington, DC for the International Summit on Human Gene Editing to discuss a technology called CRISPR-CAS9, which can insert, remove and change the DNA of basically any organism. It is relatively simple, inexpensive and accurate, and it’s already being used in laboratories around the world to make cells and breed laboratory animals with modified DNA for the study of diseases.CRISPR could also be used to modify DNA in human embryos, but the question is whether this should be allowed. Among the concerns scientists and bioethicists have highlighted are heritable gene modifications and the use of this technology to create “designer babies.” CRISPR provides new opportunities for disease treatment and prevention, but with unknown and potentially substantial risks that warrant an ethical discussion. And this discussion should be rooted in an understanding of what can and cannot be meaningfully edited.I study the genetic prediction of complex diseases and traits. Research in my field has consistently shown that human traits and common diseases are not genetic enough to be predicted using DNA tests. For the same reasons, it will be impossible to successfully program the presence of traits in embryos.

Any concerns that CRISPR could taken a step further to enhance babies by selecting favorable traits such as intelligence and athleticism may be unwarranted.

Do not try this at home: hacking your brain with electronics

“Struggling with your mathematics homework? Sudoku proving too hard? Depression? ADHD? Post-traumatic stress disorder?

There’s a solution: it involves strapping electrodes to your head and feeding a current through your brain. Sound good?

There’s an increasingly active community of amateur brain hackers, two neuroscientists told SXSW, with all the relevant electrical parts available to buy online for less than $100 and delivered to the privacy and, theoretically, safety of your own home.

When Canadian neuroscientist Wilder Penfield practiced pioneering brain surgery and research from the 1930s to the 50s, it involved poking or electrically stimulating the brain directly. Cameron Craddock, director at the Nathan S Kline Institute For Psychiatric Research in New York, showed a video of a patient in the early 60s who had an electrode attached to her brain’s nucleus accumbens, or pleasure center.”