Eugenics is the process of helping a genome to create stronger, more capable, more robustly resilient and adaptable animals. As such, it is the opposite of dysgenics, the dominant modern genetic trend of doom. More on the dysgenic population cycle
One benefit from widespread positive eugenics would be a greater prevalence of geniuses. Genius of intellect or character benefits the whole society, whether through scientific, technical, cultural or political innovation. That makes ultra-high intelligence a public good. Turning points in civilisation were based on macro-innovations—ideas and inventions of great novelty and far-reaching impact—produced by very clever individuals. These include the plough, writing, astronomical navigation, the steam engine and the semi-conductor. Creativity of this magnitude stimulates the economy, improves life and helps society adapt to challenges.
Positive eugenics would increase the number of geniuses because abilities of cognition and personality are distributed in a bell curve. A slight increase in the average greatly increases the proportion of gifted individuals. For example, increasing the average IQ from 100 to 105 would increase the number of individuals with IQ over 160 almost four-fold. (Recall that Woodley estimates a loss of 8.4 IQ points per century due to rising mutation load alone.) Increasing the average to 120, well within what Lynn sees as feasible within two generations, would increase the number of 160+ individuals about 125-fold.
As the innovations produced by highly intelligent people are public goods, it would seem prudent for representative governments to allow the reproductive choices that produce more of them. __ Ready or Not! __ via Greg Cochran
Better methods of editing the human genome are combining with advanced in vitro fertilisation techniques, promising the creation of “perfect designer babies.” More information, with a twist:
Children resulting from frozen embryos were more socially adept than those implanted fresh after eggs were fertilised [!]. The children also moved better, had superior communication skills and showed more independence. Allan Pacey, a fertility expert at the University of Sheffield, suggested that this was caused in part by the rigours of the thawing process. Not all embryos survive thawing, and perhaps those that do are “stronger”, he said. Perhaps freezing and thawing embryos is an inadvertent eugenics process, most successful with embryos having a low mutation load.
… a US firm, New Jersey Fertility Center, advertises pre-implantation genetic testing of embryos in conjunction with IVF. Such screening “allows for the selection of genetically normal embryos that can increase the chance of a successful pregnancy, decrease the risk of a miscarriage, minimise the risk of passing certain genetic diseases to your children and provide gender selection for family balancing”.
… The first and most obvious benefit of genetic screening is the prevention of disease. The new genomics-based eugenics represents a significant advance on traditional methods… the new IVF procedure can screen out selected mutations before they do harm. And it does so without abortion by terminating pregnancy at a very early stage. The procedure has room for improvement but is developing in the direction of a measured, targeted method that minimises collateral harm… germline engineering—technology that corrects mutations in sperm, eggs or embryos, thus preventing them being passed onto children—would be the ultimate negative eugenics tool, allowing parents to wipe out their children’s mutation load in one fell swoop.[
… imagine parents who opt for IVF as a means of avoiding the gene variant that lowers IQ. Ten eggs from the woman are fertilised in vitro by her husband. Seven of the resulting embryos are free of the variant. Of these, one has a 70 per cent risk of contracting schizophrenia. The parents decide to choose from the remaining six. … If tests show that two embryos have the genes likely to result in ten extra IQ points compared to the others, the same goal that motivated treatment in the first place would point to these embryos as the obvious choice. Attempting to select intelligence or any other trait among healthy embryos is what we mean by positive eugenics—and also what we mean by the slippery slope.
… In Eugenics: A Reassessment Richard Lynn argues that enhancing children is good and foresees developments in genetics and IVF making functional traits available for genetic manipulation. In his view positive eugenics will be adopted by the great majority of parents. The gains would be sufficient to give designer babies a tremendous head start, not only in cognition but also in personality and vigour. Lynn does not envisage a small elite caste using eugenics to lord it over the unselected masses because he sees eugenics becoming the norm.
… George Church thinks that IVF using germline engineering will result in differences so great that the two populations constitute different species. Lynn does not go so far but expects that naturally-reproducing people in majority-positive eugenic societies would occupy the lower socio-economic niches, often unemployed and unemployable. The resulting welfare burden would come to be seen as a genetic problem.
Here is one way that human genomes may be edited for creating designer babies:
The so-called Crispr-Cas9 genome editing technique is already widely used in laboratory studies, and scientists hope it may one day help rewrite flawed genes in people, opening tremendous new possibilities for treating, even curing, diseases.
… While everyone welcomes Crispr-Cas9 as a strategy to treat disease, many scientists are worried that it could also be used to alter genes in human embryos, sperm or eggs in ways that can be passed from generation to generation. The prospect raises fears of a dystopian future in which scientists create an elite population of designer babies with enhanced intelligence, beauty or other traits.
Scientists in China reported last month that they had already used the technique in an attempt to change genes in human embryos, though on defective embryos and without real success. __ NYT via Futurepundit
More on China’s 30 year old eugenics program: “There is unusually close cooperation in China between government, academia, medicine, education, media, parents, and consumerism in promoting a utopian Han ethno-state. ”
How Crispr-Cas9 gene editing works: “It may be possible to use CRISPR to build RNA-guided gene drives capable of altering the genomes of entire populations.”
… A specific sequence of guide RNA could be made to attach to a spot virtually anywhere on the genome, and the Cas9 protein would cleave the DNA at that spot. Then pieces of the DNA could be deleted or added, just as a film editor might cut a film and splice in new frames.
The researchers demonstrated this using DNA in a test tube. While there were other genome editing techniques, they found that Crispr-Cas9 was much simpler.
Black African populations are the oldest of Earth’s human populations, and overall, the least intelligent, most violent, and least clever and inventive. Is this because of the accumulation of damaging “genetic load” in tropical Africa — without the shocks, bottlenecks, and winnowing out that other populations in more extreme environments were exposed to? Could black Africans be brought up to the levels of Europeans and East Asians using some of the positive eugenic tricks that genetic scientists are developing?
One thing is certain: Humans in the future will face a wide range of severe and existential hazards, such as impacts of large space objects, deadly emerging plagues that run loose in mega-urban centres, out of control dysgenic immigration into advanced nations, a bloom of super-volcanoes, proliferation of large numbers of WMDs to less intelligent and more violent populations, and engineered genocides by rogue nations such as Russia, Iran, or North Korea.
We need much larger numbers of intelligent people, enough so as to raise the average population IQs in the west by 20 to 30 IQ points. And we need much better methods of educating and raising bright young children, so as to put current “dumbing-down” methods of mass education to sleep forever.
A jump in average intelligence of that magnitude — if accompanied by improvements in executive function and overall skills competencies — would make modern corrupt methods of dumbed down government virtually extinct. Other forms of corruption would grow up, naturally, but they would not be allowed to fester in and destroy societies for nearly as long.
A designed rise in intelligence would almost certainly be accompanied by a designed lengthening of healthy lifespans. At that point, we may begin to see what humans are capable of accomplishing over the long run.
Today, most people are simply too stupid, and either grow senile or die much too young.
The biggest danger to future eugenic technologies is if corrupt governments control them entirely, leading to the worst of all possibilities — a permanent caste of corrupt insiders, lording it over the permanent underclasses. Rather as if Orwell and Huxley had gotten together to write the most horrific of dystopian novels.
Sooner or later, brighter humans will need to break the grip of the nation-state, in order to enable an expansive, abundant human future. A shift to city-states and alliances of city-states would more easily and safely weather the turbulence to come than either nation-states or a world-state.
But it is almost impossible to find thinkers, writers, and doers who are bright enough, imaginative enough, and practical enough to work their way through what needs to be done. Almost everyone gets stuck on trivialities and moot points. But no one said it would be easy to jump to the Next Level.
Bring on the Dangerous Children.