Because intelligence is such a strong genetic trait, rapidly advancing genetics research could result in the ability to create a class of super-intelligent humans one-thousand times higher in IQ than today's most brilliant thinkers.

Stephen Hsu, Vice-President for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University, believes we are only a decade away from identifying the many thousands of genetic variants that control for intelligence. These variants, called alleles, could then be selected for by the parents of a soon-to-be-conceived child, and possibly genetic engineering could be done on adults to boost their intelligence.

"We can imagine savant-like capabilities that, in a maximal type, might be present all at once: nearly perfect recall of images and language; super-fast thinking and calculation; powerful geometric visualization, even in higher dimensions; the ability to execute multiple analyses or trains of thought in parallel at the same time; the list goes on."

Hsu argues that it's a matter of when, not if, researchers achieve this capability. That could mean a race to the top (or bottom, depending on your point of view) where the laissez-faire policies of one nation could attract a class of wealthy and powerful people looking to get a whole lot smarter. If that were the case, a new and powerful kind of inequality could arise like never before. 

In his Big Think interview, Michio Kaku explains how the same process of genetic selection could recreate lost species like the woolly mammoth and Neanderthal man. Jurassic Park, anyone?


Read more at Nautilus

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