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 -
Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.' - Philip K Dick, 1954.
Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.' - Hal Clement, 1950.
Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Bring Back Extinct Animals! Sort of.
'The worldwide network of genetic arks had a surfeit of pachyderms...' - David Brin, 1990
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.
Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'
Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'
Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'
Bigrating Laser Beam-Riding Light Sail Is Self-Correcting
'That sail will be twenty thousand miles at the wide part.'
ISS Astronauts Test Estee Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' Skin Serum
'Out in the New Moon, just ask for what you want...'
LG Wing Twisting Smartphone Might Be Fun
'A polycarbon screen unfurled...'
Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'
Will ATT Offer Ad-Subsidized Cellphone Service
'For long-distance calls the ratio of commercial to conversation was as high as 10 to 1...'
Gyro-X Self-Balancing Two-Wheeler Car
'Indeed, the gyrocar was a sight to make a man look twice.'
Beat Covid-19 With AIR By MicroClimate - At Last I Get My PAPR
More than just a bubble.
Mi TV LUX Transparent Edition OLED TV
The Look of Things To Come.
Metalenses Now Reconfigurable With Liquid Crystal
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension...'
'Alexa For Residential' A Landlord's Dream (Tenant's Nightmare?)
'...unseen mechanical entities... that are in our very midst. One of them following each of us.'
Gather Ye Moonrocks While Ye May
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite.'
InMotion V11 Electric Unicycle Gets Air (Video)
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...'
Rid Thyself Of Ads On The Newsbox
'Can't we scramble that commercial?'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories