Accelerating Future reader and professor of economics at Smith College, James D. Miller, recently published an article on embryo screening and intelligence enhancement at Tech Central Station. Here is an excerpt:
“Two British fertility clinics have found a way of safely obtaining thousands of eggs from a woman. Fertility clinics, therefore, will soon be able to give a couple thousands of embryos to pick from. So let’s say that a certain couple’s genes mean that normally they have only a 1% chance of conceiving a child with the genetic potential to reach a genius IQ. With the ability to select among thousands of embryos, however, this couple could now almost guarantee that their offspring has the genetic potential of a genius.
Imagine that in ten years China forces all its college students to get genetic tests. Students with intelligence genes in the top 1% of the top 1% of humankind are then forced to donate sperm or eggs. China then uses the sperm and eggs to create a billion embryos each year. The genetic intellectual potential of all these embryos is checked. Those in the top 10,000 are implanted into women. Each of these embryos has the intellectual potential to be in the top one-billionth of humankind.
Now because of environmental factors many of these embryos won’t turn into intellectual titans. But let’s say that one in ten does. This means that each year 1,000 people with the scientific ability of Einstein will be born. By 2035 they will become adults and start doing scientific research. I imagine these Einsteins will be rather helpful to China’s economy and military.”
I strongly doubt that we will make it all the way to 2035 without radical intelligence enhancement emerging through some other route, such as intelligence enhancement drugs or AI, and I’ll bet James agrees with me that leapfrogging the above scenario is possible, but his presentation is very interesting because few people think about these issues.
Although James’ article may make the process sound more straightforward than it actually would be in reality, it really might be that straightforward, and even a chance of it happening means we should open our eyes to the possibility. Some counterpoint arguments were given by a flustered commenter.
Professor Miller is currently writing a book on intelligence enhancement and the Singularity.