Forget Longevity, How About Super-Intelligence?
Yes, longevity research might allow us to live longer. If I had my way, I'd increase my health span before increasing my lifespan. In the meantime, how about being smarter?
In Philip K. Dick's 1964 novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch a procedure called E Therapy was performed to increase the size of their brains:
The man's head reminded Hnatt of a photograph he had once seen in a textbook; the photo had been labeled hydrocephalic. The same enlargement above the browline; it was clearly domelike and oddly fragile-looking and he saw at once why these well-to-do persons who had evolved were popularly called bubbleheads.
(Read more about bubbleheads)
How hard could it be to get a bigger brain?
(Super Sizing Chickens 1957-present)
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. A rough lower bound on the number of common genetic variants affecting each trait can be deduced from the positive or negative effect on the trait (measured in inches of height or IQ points) of already discovered gene variants, called alleles.
The Social Science Genome Association Consortium, an international collaboration involving dozens of university labs, has identified a handful of regions of human DNA that affect cognitive ability. They have shown that a handful of single-nucleotide polymorphisms in human DNA are statistically correlated with intelligence, even after correction for multiple testing of 1 million independent DNA regions, in a sample of over 100,000 individuals.
If only a small number of genes controlled cognition, then each of the gene variants should have altered IQ by a large chunk—about 15 points of variation between two individuals. But the largest effect size researchers have been able to detect thus far is less than a single point of IQ. Larger effect sizes would have been much easier to detect, but have not been seen.
This means that there must be at least thousands of IQ alleles to account for the actual variation seen in the general population. A more sophisticated analysis (with large error bars) yields an estimate of perhaps 10,000 in total.1
Each genetic variant slightly increases or decreases cognitive ability. Because it is determined by many small additive effects, cognitive ability is normally distributed, following the familiar bell-shaped curve, with more people in the middle than in the tails. A person with more than the average number of positive (IQ-increasing) variants will be above average in ability. The number of positive alleles above the population average required to raise the trait value by a standard deviation—that is, 15 points—is proportional to the square root of the number of variants, or about 100. In a nutshell, 100 or so additional positive variants could raise IQ by 15 points.
Given that there are many thousands of potential positive variants, the implication is clear: If a human being could be engineered to have the positive version of each causal variant, they might exhibit cognitive ability which is roughly 100 standard deviations above average. This corresponds to more than 1,000 IQ points.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/6/2015)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!' -
Worms Eat Plastic Now
'Slowly and inexorably, the rate of dissolution increased...' - Davis/Pedlar, 1971.
Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.' - Peter Watts, 1999.
NASA's Prototype Lunar Greenhouse For Mars And Moon
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Will A Steel Umbrella Stop Russia?
'Everyone was aware that the damned platform was wandering around in its own orbit...'
EVE Artificial Womb For Lambs (For Now)
'In the crimson darkness, stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones...'
TIKAD Armed Drone Ready To Fight
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'
Bees Royal Jelly Helps Wounds Heal Faster
'An alien drug... used by an insect race.'
NASA Wants To Make Oxygen On Mars
'They plop down on the Red and if the dust is deep enough ... they burrow in...'
Hackers Insert Malware Into DNA
'They tied the memory to the bloodline and that was their record!'
X2-VelociRoACH Cooperates To Launch Tiny Drones
Little robots cooperating can do big tasks. Eventually.
'Do Not Pay' Chatbots To Replace Law Firm Associates?
'I want my lawyer program.'
MULTI Model Of Star Trek Turbolift
Cool prototype video!
A Look Into The Future Of Spacecraft!
Ever wonder how you look when you enter a new part of a spacecraft?
An 'Ethical Black Box' For Robots?
Explored by science fiction authors.
Dadbot Digital Immortality
'A hardwired ROM cassette replicating a dead man's skills...'
Should We Permit Computers To Create Their Own Language?
'Talk Between Robots radio...'
Breakthrough Starshot Sprites Yearn For Alpha Centauri
'Whoever launched it fired a laser cannon...'
Kino Project Roaming Personal Fashion Robots
'Most of the crew have the tiny imp ride on their shoulder...'
Astronaut Exercise Video, Predicted By SF Writers
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories