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At Mind Matters News: Could we really increase human IQ via genetic engineering?


One suggested approach is to only implant “intelligent” human embryos and discard the rest, to
avoid editing individual genes:

First, there are obvious problems like, how much is genetics and how much is environment? From MedLine: “Studies have not conclusively identified any genes that have major roles in differences in intelligence. It is likely that a large number of genes are involved, each of which makes only a small contribution to a person’s intelligence… A person’s environment and genes influence each other, and it can be challenging to tease apart the effects of the environment from those of genetics.” Recent genetic studies point to some genes but provide no clear guidance.

It gets more complex. The interaction between genetics and environment plays a big role in intelligence: “… the right question is not a question of Genes v. Environment, the right question is how do genes and environment interact to shape behavior?” (Psychology Today)

And then there’s the Flynn effect: “… people living in the United States were gaining a little more than 3 points per decade on tests of human intelligence.” James Flynn (1934–2020) attributed this effect to the greater opportunity that modern societies offer for abstract, problem-solving approaches to life…

From available knowledge, intelligence boost proposals have all the makings of either nothing or the next ethical train wreck.

News, “Could we really increase human IQ via genetic engineering?” at Mind Matters News (August 4, 2022)

Takehome: It’s not clear what, explicitly, human intelligence is or even how it originates. Ethics aside, there’s no way to decide who to save and who to throw away.

You may also wish to read: Can science really engineer a bigger human brain? Computational neuroscientist Daniel Graham wonders why we would bother. There is no strict relationship between brain size and intellectual achievement. The human brain has actually been shrinking in the last 30,000 years, the same period that has also shown great intellectual achievements.

The human mind requires time and a relatively peaceful environment to develop properly. Many people are poor and/or in the middle of some military conflict. Day to day survival uses up most of their time and energy. Now that the human genome has been completely mapped, the next challenge is figuring out what everything does. Some progress has been made. There is also some evidence that the human mind has quantum connections at the molecular level, further complicating any analysis. The term "natural interests" is too vague to be useful. Once a person has secured food, clothing and shelter and has a job, other 'interests' may be considered. However, there must be a plan. A person has to be practical or he may find himself in a situation he'd rather not be in. relatd
Eugenicists and social Darwinists tried this already and failed. The search for the superior man led to a lot of misery In Germany, the Soviet Union, North Korea, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, etc. When people are free to pursue their natural interests, greater advancements come to society. BobRyan

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