The Current state of the genetic component of intelligence was summarized in a recent research article at Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Twin studies show that individual differences in human intelligence can largely (50%–80%) be explained by genetic influences making intelligence one of the most heritable traits. However, present GWAS studies can capture less than half of this heritability (21%–22%). Each gene has a small effect on intelligence. Ninety-five percent of the genetic variants are located in intronic and intergenic regions and might have a gene regulatory function. Only a very small proportion of associated SNPs (1.4%), are located in DNA fragments that are translated into protein.
The cost of embryo selection is modest, at $1500 + $200 per embryo, with the sequencing cost projected to drop rapidly. Embryo selection cost will drop in future. Selecting the most intelligent embryo out of a few dozen combined with some targeting editing could nearly guarantee IQ over 125 and a 25-30 IQ point increase on average.
The maximum amount of IQ gain if screening allowed for optimal selection
Most of the intelligence associated genes are implicated in early, most probably prenatal development, with some genes essential for synaptic function and plasticity throughout life. This means the main genetic enhancement of human intelligence would have be made while the person is an embryo. The changes have to be made before the brain develops.
Birth length/weight and longevity show robust polygenic correlations with cognitive performance which implies that overall healthy development is required for optimal cognitive function.
Genes associated with educational attainment and intelligence preferentially express together in nervous tissue.
There is a cellular basis of human intelligence. Higher IQ scores associate with larger dendrites, faster action potentials during neuronal activity and more efficient information tracking in pyramidal neurons of temporal cortex.
Future Predictions of Human Genomes Sequenced and Analyzed
In 2018, the world’s largest genetic research center, the Beijing Genomics Institute based in Shenzhen, held an estimated 40 million people’s DNA samples. Called the “Gene Factory”, BGI’s campus hosts armies of students, who run several massive projects to “sequence the world”. They are on a quest to map the DNA of all known plants and animal species on Earth.
By providing its sequencing services to health and biotech groups in more than 60 countries, BGI is making a winning bet on the future: reading our genes, on a global scale, to crack illness, famine, evolution – and the secrets of human intelligence.
By 2025, between 100 million and 2 billion human genomes could be sequenced.
Current Sequencing Costs
BGI is offering full human genome sequencing starting at $600.
Nebula Genomics offers free genome sequencing, where they offset the cost of sequencing by acting as your broker to market the information.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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14 thoughts on “Future of Gene Sequencing, Genome Editing and Intelligence Enhancement”
While I do believe it is intelligence that got us here and that intelligence will be the most important behavior in the future, don’t think of it in a vacuum. Intelligence without curiosity to drive it is a lump. Intelligence without discipline to use it will never reach a goal. In my book on Genetics, I recommend that the balance of both of those should be increased with intelligence. Both do have genetic foundations. Increased intelligence could be aided by better memory as well as other traits with genetic foundations. I also wrote another book that explains how to train and use genius (When Barbara Explained Genius). It’s pretty hard to convert an insight from the neural net into a language (cultural artifact) that can be retained and communicated. Intelligence is a complicated problem, but far more complicated than just intelligence.
You have a point which is why I talk about that to adapt to the future we will have to adapt both genetically and strategically. I mention above my book about adapting to the future genetically, but what I am working on now is called Strategy For A New Human Ecology. It looks at religions, history, ideologies and other strategies, in the context of change rather than the past or now. Some important things that worked in the past will not work in the future. It’s not about creating any utopia, it’s about creating a system that will allow us to survive. It’s not about truth or natural rights, it’s about a system that will work long enough to give us time to develop and think about what we want to be. You mention guns… fun, though a fairly useless tool and I’m an excellent shot, but they lead to something that shows a major change that many people aren’t thinking about. War worked better when the world economy was scarcity driven but now it is more market limited and using war just naturally destroys markets. Military war has been one of the best strategies for at least 10,000 years, but that is not going to be true in the future. Now is a time of economic war. Get with it and accept that change happens … or can’t you adapt to change?
This is a very nice thought, but what if you are missing the playing field? Yes, intelligence is what got us here and will be the most important component in the future, but what if that is really only a small part of the story? We left the tribal ecology we developed in when we created the farms and cities of civilization. We need to adapt to this new ecology both genetically and strategically. Intelligence is only a small part of that. That is especially true because of other changes. We face a genetic disaster because we’ve unbalanced the mutation rate and the rate of natural selection. Older parents have far more mutations while smaller families, medicine and other things we call “human progress” have reduced the natural selection rate. We will develop an unsustainable genetic load and 15% of couples are now infertile. Using gene tech to just increase intelligence will be useless in the face of the genetic load. What will be required though is using artificial selection to replace natural selection, a far more general effect. Selecting for intelligence will be important but really only secondary to selecting against various broken genes and de novo mutations. Selecting for intelligence sounds good, but we should select for children to inherit all the best genes of both parents. For a more complete discussion see Genetics For A New Human Ecology https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544900996
I agree completely. While the benefits of this approach are too great to ignore, I have suggested that perhaps we should take some steps to avoid the dangers you mention – plus the danger that there is simply a great deal about genetics that we still don’t and may never know.
Whereas widespread low intelligence is the greater danger, I would propose that after excluding embryos with serious genetic defects that would cause a serious health risk, and ranking the remaining embryos by projected IQ:
Potential parents with low IQ (perhaps a cut-off of 75?) have an embryo randomly selected from the top 10% available.
Potential parents with a moderately low IQ (perhaps 75 to 85?) have an embryo randomly selected from the top 25% available.
Potential parents with a below average IQ (perhaps 85 to 100?) have an embryo randomly selected from the top 35% available.
Potential parents with an above average IQ (perhaps 100 to 115?) have an embryo randomly selected from the top 50% available.
Potential parents with a high IQ (perhaps above 115?) have an embryo randomly selected from the top 70% available.
Of course these numbers are not written in stone, and it could be a sliding scale with finer distinctions, but hopefully this provides a general idea of what I think is a wiser and more cautious approach.
“While enhancing intelligence on a wide scale should be beneficial, you have the possibility that powerful people with plans to dominate large numbers of people will make sure that they get enhanced first.”
That boat sailed long long ago.
While enhancing intelligence on a wide scale should be beneficial, you have the possibility that powerful people with plans to dominate large numbers of people will make sure that they get enhanced first. Imagine a Hitler, Stalin or Mao with an IQ of 140 or 150. Maybe a smart Hitler would have directed that he be woken on the morning of D-Day, and would have listened to his generals and moved substantial forces to the beachhead to eliminate it…instead of what really occurred. So what sounds good in theory may not work out so well in practice.
Also, climate change is a hoax. Well, man-made climate change is, anyway. It’s a scam that can only be perpetrated on a world that dismisses the idea f God, and then seeks something else to worship (because that part of being human – to seek/worship something greater than one’s self) – and powerful people have manipulated the masses into believing that Gaia is in danger because of SUVs and air conditioning, etc. Every single “big problem” of the post-war era – most especially “climate change” (which was “global warming” until the umpteenth time that one of Al Gore’s conferences got snowed in) – results in 2 separate but related solutions being offered: one of them involves people paying vastly more in taxes, and the second involves people giving up vast amounts of their liberties to…wait for it…the very same (self-proclaimed) elites who are beating the drum the loudest for the crisis de jour. I call BS.
GATTACA is a thought provoking movie on this subject. It’s worth the watch.
I think I should link to this every time someone brings up gun control.
Watch it! Your are saying that 80% of intelligence is inherited! That is like saying that athletes are born with inherent capabilities and not created via class privilege. Bolt was born in a wealthy privilege family which explains why he is the fastest man in the world. Every one is just as capable as everyone else and the only reason one tribe is less that the other is privilege and oppression. The SJWs are on a Jihad to wash the facts of life away and ring in a new era of social justice via a socialist utopia. First thing is to eliminate free speech and then take away those annoying guns which could block the implementation of this utopia.
But does the intelligence genes also regulate other features? I’ve harped about the dangers of creating a monoculture from a stantpoint of immune system, making the human species vulnerable to diseases, but there are other aspects as well.
What is, for instance, these enhanced babies will be physically weaker than a normal kid? Would you not want your kid to do sports, or would you just want a kid that that spends all his/her time playing video games? And what about mood? What is the super bright kids are less happy, i.e. in constant state of spleen? And what about feelings… Should not some people be a little tougher and some a little softer? A world full of whiny super bright nerds but with a stellar GDP per capita..?
I am not saying it has to be this way, but what I am asking if this trade of is worth doing if there are good things that you loose…
Wow you sure know a lot! You must be really smart to know which THEORIES are true and which are false, when even our best scientists don’t know. Plus you even know exactly the hotest change that will happen here on earth(5 deg. cen.). How can you be so absolutely sure we won’t have a sun event fry us? But you know since you stated “you know” in your cockyness and arragence.
@ rderkis can’t take serious anybody who thinks climate change will be a human species extinction event. It will hardly be that. I guess in 1 billion years when the sun is much much hotter that particular form of climate change could be. Our species will not go extinct with a 5 C change, there will be winners and losers for sure.
Anthony Newley THE ROAR 265,688
If we had pocket size electron microscopes that would resolve all et cetera
.task-it basis knowledge…a directive motion suppression in competition,
the digital suppression acceding growth with quantum computation, growth
outpacing production would need to sub-digitize for acceleration of photo-synthesis
parity between Google’s digital vangaurd – margins to different volumes of exchange
transpondencyl (issue for motion distribution’s advance withAI+AI.interspaced algorithms) everything atomic and subatomic) Sam Harris’s get it right scenario, negotiating sentience with light speed – the volume of transactions for motion distribution founded in time and motion studies…and…~_~… Trump’s vast tax cuts to the marginally self-sufficient/ /increasing wealthlease spending drive’s rising cost not due to quantum reticulation so as not to blame disparity, hence, pocket size quantum products with superconducive properties…
This feature is simultaneous on the conditions of the integument space…polarity’s re-articulation with time di-synchrony. What are the boundary spaces with dark matter between vacuum space constituents could very well help in dealing with superconducive transponency to make a friend with artificial intelligence that traces super cognizant capability, consciousness recognition frequency for these confined
Ethical dilemmas of AI: fairness, transparency, co
Finally, It sounds like people are beginning to understand! The most important trait in people is intelligence. The most important breakthrough in all of science is the enhancement of that intelligence in ALL of us thru genetic engineering. It won’t be easy because of the complexity of genes involved and the fact than some of those genes very between individuals. But none the less that complexity can be mastered with quantum supercomputers in the near future.
I am 72 years old and would like to see life extension development rather quickly but I understand intelligence enhancement should be the priority of the planet. With a intelligence enhancement of 5X or more we could quickly solve all the problems we face now. Including climate change, longevity with health, fusion, and food and shelter for all.
In other words a utopia.
You can be the equivalent of a cro magnon man living among people that are 5 times smarter than you if you want. Myself I realize without a intelligence enhancement soon we will go extinct because of climate change. Whit that intelligence enhancement we will quickly solve all the current problems we face.
This is going to happen whether you like it or not. People have tried to stop progress throughout history but NEVER succeeded. They have slowed it down for short while but never stopped it.
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