The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

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leady
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:31 pm UTC

To be clear selective breeding is way slower than selection. I'm talking taking a couple of thousand fertilised embryos and genetically scanning each one and implanting the best 1 or 2 candidates based on known genetic distributions from the wider population that match desired characteristics - and thats starting from the best starting candidates too. Arguably thats better than cloning :)

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:41 pm UTC

again, lets point to the basketball again.
Same generation times, only slightly longer training times.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/02/01/ta ... -altitude/

We can do some very rough Fermi calculations for the next couple standard deviations.

34% of the US male population is 5’9 to 6’0, so about 54 million men. There are 5 NBA players in this band. So about one in every 11 million people of this height is in the NBA.

13.5% of the US male population is 6’0 to 6’3, so about 21 million men. There are 40 NBA players in this band. So about one in every 500,000 people of this height is in the NBA.

2.35% of the US male population is 6’3 to 6’6, so about 4 million men. There are 95 NBA players in this band. So about one in every 40,000 people of this height is in the NBA.

0.15% of the US male population is 6’6 to 6’9, so about 200,000 men. There are 130 NBA players in this band. So about one in every 1,500 people of this height is in the NBA.

0.003% of the US male population is 6’9 to 7’0, so about 5,000 men. There are 160 NBA players in this band. So about one in every 30 people of this height is in the NBA.

0.00002% of the US male population is 7’0 to 7’3, which corresponds to about 45 men. There are 40 NBA players in this band. So about 8 out of 9 people of this height are in the…wait, no, that can’t be right.

Sports Illustrated‘s Dan Diamond does a similar analysis and gets broadly similar results. But he adds several complicating factors. First, at this height people with very rare medical conditions and pituitary tumors start taking over from normal variation, so we lose our ability to derive a census a priori with pure math. Second of all, at this height talent scouts comb the world for suitably tall foreigners and import them, so we can no longer assume we’re drawing from the pool of tall Americans. And third of all, the same way you round up so that you’re 6’0 on OKCupid, NBA players round up so that they’re 7’0 on their official stats.

He concludes that most likely about 17% of seven-foot-tall young men in America are in the NBA. This might still be an overestimate, but is probably in the right ballpark. Forbes Magazine writes that Being Seven Feet Tall Is The Fastest Way To Get Rich In America and quotes a talent scout who says “that he’ll ‘check up on anyone over 7 feet that’s breathing.'” Given that a lot of people this height are unhealthy or uninterested, it might not be much of an exaggeration to say that if you’re 7’3 and have any interest in basketball, you’ve got better than even odds of going pro.

But why stop there? 0.000000001% of men are 7’3 to 7’6. Given the size of the American male population, there shouldn’t be a single person in the US with this height, though in practice a few people with endocrine abnormalities make the cut. There will, however, be a couple of healthy people of this height in the world population. There is one person currently in the NBA above 7’3, and he is a Tanzanian native discovered by talent scouts.

WE’VE GOT TO GO DEEPER TALLER! 0.00000000000001% of the population is 7’6 to 7’9. Statistically, there should not be a single man this tall in the entire world. No NBA players are currently this tall. But Yao Ming, who retired four years ago, was 7’6 exactly. He was the product of a Maoist breeding program specifically aimed at producing tall people to play basketball. You can break a lot of statistical laws if you have breeding programs and flexible ethics. Also if you have pituitary tumors, as the remainder of the List Of Tallest People reminds us. It looks like a little over half of the living people in this height band have played professional basketball at some point.


You don't start with random members of the public. You pick the top of the top and give them incentives, if you want to keep things simple, just bundles of cash and social status in exchange for having kids with each other and then heap training on the progeny and give the progeny similar incentives to train.

The average eminent theoretical physicist has an IQ of 150-160. The average NBA player has a height of 6’7. Both of these are a little over three standard deviations above their respective mean. Since z-scores are magic and let us compare unlike domains, we conclude that eminent theoretical physicists are about as smart as pro basketball players are tall.


if you can produce a team of pro-basketball-grade-tall people you can probably produce a team of nobel-grade-smart people with IQ's up near 200. It isn't about changing the other 99.999% of the population. it's assuming your goal is to get a smallish sized group of people who are many standard deviations away from the normal line.

If your goal is to produce a team of top basketball players and you have 30 years it's a solid plan.

If your goal is to produce a team of nobel winners and you have 40 years it's a solid plan.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:57 pm UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Hell, if we can get to step 3, and have the option to just boost intelligence at will(a truly incredible feat) well beyond current norms....those people will be better equipped to make decisions regarding future improvements than we will be. Every improvement enables further improvements.


Intelligence is not the same thing as value. Intelligence is not the same thing as ethics.


Intelligence has great value. Yes, ethics are not exactly the same...but the entire point of the singularity is that it is innately difficult to predict beyond a certain point. If we figure out how to make particularly brilliant people at will, and they can further change humanity at will, the idea that we can predict that outcome with a great degree of certainty is...kinda hard to justify.

morriswalters wrote:Anybody care to speculate on exactly what you would improve to create a more intelligent human?


Probably a number of things. Working memory, calculation speed, etc. Intelligence is sort of a broad catch-all term, it's got a lot of sub-bits. Significant increases in overall "intelligence" would likely be a result of MANY incremental improvements, each of which is quite complex to pull off, and no doubt in some cases, trade-offs exist. The difficulty of such a task is hard to overstate. It's a bit like talking about curing cancer.

If you can pull it off, it's amazing and has fantastic potential, but progress to date has been fairly slow and gradual, and often in such unexciting ways as better childhood nutrition, lower lead exposure, etc. Genetics are all well and good, but they're hardly a magic cure.

morriswalters wrote:I find that thought rather amusing, the big heads of SF from my youth creep into my imagination. I bet this could be calculated if you assume intelligence derives from the brain(we all believe that, don't we). What is the functional limit of a brain like ours? How big can it be before the brain outruns the ability of the heart to supply enough oxygen to the brain to form great thoughts.


Size of brains mostly correlates with size of animals, not intelligence. Sure, in theory, there's got to be some computational limits involved, and we do have a large head/brain size for our bodies, but the old sci-fi image of giant brains is a sort of simplistic view.

The real breakthrough in human intelligence wasn't merely our big brains, though. It was the ability to offload data to external storage. IE, reading and writing. That allows you to skirt limits on human memory, etc, though I/O speed remains a limiting factor. Hell, we're still making advancements in this. Most folks don't memorize phone numbers these days...we have cell phones that do that for us. In the same way, some computational tasks are routinely offloaded. We might not be able to do math at the speed of a CPU, but for the most part, we can conveniently offload those tasks to them. Tool use ftw.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:44 pm UTC

If only condoms caused pregnancy rather than prevented them (and people were otherwise sterile), so that only the people who could figure out how to use them could breed...

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby ucim » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:52 pm UTC

Let me make a small analogy: power (physical strength and armaments) as a proxy for intelligence. They both are enablers in the sense that they allow us to do stuff we otherwise could not do. That's all the parallel we need for this.

Each of us wants to do stuff, and wants to keep other people from doing stuff we don't want them to do. So each of us wants to be more powerful, and we each want our children to be more powerful. But children are a long term investment - as they acquire their (extra) power, they are also in theory developing loyalty to their parents. The latter is a long term process which involves developing trust. So long as the former is also a long term process, things can stay in step.

But if all of a sudden we develop a method of popping out fully developed offspring and arming them with machine guns and sidewinder missles, the end result of doing so will be our own enslavement. There will be no time for loyalty to be developed or tested, and no going back if things don't develop the way we want them.

Artificial intelligence and Genetically Enhanced intelligence will arguably have a similar effect; that of our own enslavement, when these "smarter" beings decide that the way we want things to develop is not the way we should want them to develop (and certainly not the way they would want things to develop).

True, "if we don't, the enemy will" may have some applicability. But be clear on where such a thing inevitably leads. It will be a cage, and there's no reason to believe it will even be gilded.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:59 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:If only condoms caused pregnancy rather than prevented them (and people were otherwise sterile), so that only the people who could figure out how to use them could breed...


While some models suggest a very small very gradual decline in human intelligence over hundreds of generations currently it's being dwarfed by the flynn effect since while intelligence may be largely heritable about half of it is still down to environment and can be improved with better diet and education at a young age .

... though your point stands and would probably improve a lot of lives....

and Genetically Enhanced intelligence will arguably have a similar effect; that of our own enslavement


hang on... at what point did we jump to humans being born as fully formed adults?

very smart people typically still love their parents.

Also not all slow-growing natural kids end up caring about people. Smart psychopaths are a thing.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:09 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:very smart people typically still love their parents.
Ok, listen, I know this is a speculative thread, but can we please stop just throwing around completely unsubstanciated statements about trends in human behavior, how variation of traits works, what genetic engineering will do in 15 years, etc?

Perhaps we should focus on the ETHICS of GE, not handwavy statements about what is that really only serve to highlight how few biologists are commenting in this thread.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:26 pm UTC

The Flynn effect is because of things like vaccines and iodized salt. Because diseases that we vaccinate for and nutrient deficiencies we fortify for cause retardation. Like, rural areas without iodine would have 15 IQ points less as a result if iodine deficiency. But that trend ends once everyone has access to vaccines and fortification, which is pretty much the case in the developed world.


As for ethics, our question should be "does the species' health brought about by genetic variation justify the suffering of individual families?" Most genes are "defective" in some way compared to some "best" version of that gene. But if everyone had the "best" genes, we'd be clones. And the entire reason for sexual reproduction is that we aren't clones, so 1) we can adapt to changing environments, 2) we aren't all susceptible to the same disease. Some people have a defective ccr5 protein that makes her immune system slightly weaker. Should they be "cured"? Well that defect makes them immune to most forms of HIV-1.

Really my answer is that would should use the following metric for determining if a gene is 'unworthy'; "is a person with this gene still capable of living a productive life?" If the answer is yes, keep, if the gene is fatal (eg, die in teens), discard. The goal for the species should be adaptability and survivability first.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:39 pm UTC

That's an odd sentence to quote when complaining about "completely unsubstanciated statements",Izawwlgood. I would have expected a one of the more flimsy ones but if you really want me to dig for research papers on how much high-IQ individuals care for their parents....

So I guess this is the part of the topic where you sweep in, tell everyone they know nothing, refuse to contribute much and then sweep out telling everyone they know nothing again.

Some might suggest that how society views and/or deals with non-GE versions of the same issues has relevance to the equivalent GE cases much as how arguments involving how hybrid crops are treated can have relevance to issues related to GE crops.

Or, god forbid, they might speculate on what may be possible in a few years. because that would be totally irrelevant.

sticking to pure ethics tends to be inherently boring hence the discussion moves to related, more fun areas.


But that trend ends once everyone has access to vaccines and fortification, which is pretty much the case in the developed world.


I'm sure it will top out as you say but all the graphs I can find show it still climbing gradually so I'm not sure we're there yet. I fully expect my nieces and nephews to have a good chunk of a standard deviation worth of an advantage over my generation.

[speculative]education methods are probably getting better after all[/speculative] and younger generations are reading and writing more at a younger age.

So I'm not so sure we've maxed this one out quite yet. I can provide cites if anyone thinks the above statements are flakey.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:47 pm UTC

Ok. Profit trumps ethics. If it can be done it will be done. If there is money to be made. We'll create the ethics to justify whatever it is that we do.

Breeding for super intelligent science majors is probably a waste of time, no profit. Because there is no need. No one scientist, in isolation, could do anything. To be useful they would have to exist in large numbers and computers are cheaper. Tyndmyr is half right about offloading, the other half is becoming massively parallel by breeding like fleas. However intelligence might work, is there any reason to believe that you can increase the rate of innovation quicker by being smarter, rather than by breeding more innovators and creating better tools.

Fixing things like Downs or any other genetic problem, no brainer. If we can we will. I would pay quite a bit to fix my son, given that the cure isn't worse than the disease.

Breeding super athletes. It could happen. But is there any reason to believe that height, for instance, comes free of charge, genetically speaking? If height come at the expense of longevity, would we be prepared to reduce the longevity of a center by some arbitrary amount to create a better center or post player. Would that be ethical? If the choice for football players were to say, fix the problems with concussions by improving the heads ability to survive the shock, , but at the cost of reducing the intelligence of linesmen by say 20 points. Is that ethical?

Cosmetics. Is there any doubt that if you can find an application of genetic engineering for cosmetics that somebody wouldn't pay money, ethics be damned?

Making gender selection or personality selection a parental decision. Why do I think that this would lead to children looking and acting the same as their parents? Maybe with perceived defects corrected.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby ucim » Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:46 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:hang on... at what point did we jump to humans being born as fully formed adults?
It's an analogy, and the quote you have left unattributed is mine. I wouldn't care, except that it follows another quote that is attributed to CorruptUser, and that style of quoting implies that CorruptUser continues to be quoted when this is not the case.

Genetic engineering is fast, in comparison to natural (or even unnatural) selection. at the (speculative*) limit, you pick the genes you want and put them in your shopping cart; nine months later out comes a designer baby that's way more intelligent than you are. AI (off topic but relevant as a parallel) is similar; the "intelligence" of programs is increasing much faster than intelligence does in nature. The key being that it's faster than loyalty. To create an illustrative parallel with power (or strength) I accelerated the "growing up" process in my analogy. I do not mean to imply that actual genetic engineering will result in actual all-grown-up births.

Now note - an analogy is not proof. It is illustration. Cartoon if you will. But it helps convey an idea. That is why I used it.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:14 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Making gender selection or personality selection a parental decision. Why do I think that this would lead to children looking and acting the same as their parents? Maybe with perceived defects corrected.


Minor aside - but most children do look and act like their parents, just neither side realises it :) I suspect most people would be horrified if they had to bring up their own clone.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:15 pm UTC

leady wrote:
morriswalters wrote:Making gender selection or personality selection a parental decision. Why do I think that this would lead to children looking and acting the same as their parents? Maybe with perceived defects corrected.


Minor aside - but most children do look and act like their parents, just neither side realises it :) I suspect most people would be horrified if they had to bring up their own clone.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:25 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:One of the best quotes I've ever heard on parenting (as a non-parent, anyway) is something to the effect of 'Everyone knows what kind of parent they needed, but it's much harder to be the sort of parent your kid needs'.
Which neatly speaks to the problem of GE.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:28 pm UTC

Given that sex selective abortion is a thing and it's virtually always to choose a male, NO, parents SHOULD NOT be allowed to choose genders.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:43 pm UTC

As genetic strategies go thats a bad one at least these days - the differential in breeding success between the sexes is huge.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:49 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Given that sex selective abortion is a thing and it's virtually always to choose a male, NO, parents SHOULD NOT be allowed to choose genders.
I think that's an oversimplification. Sex linked genetic disorders are a thing. If I knew, for example, that any son of mine was going to have $problem, I'd probably opt to only have daughters.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:15 pm UTC

Then you should be allowed in that case. The problem is when enough people decide to do it that it screws up the gender ratio, unless we can make more men gay or something to compensate.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 11, 2015 12:00 am UTC

Maybe. Its a cultural thing though - it'll be interesting to see what happens to Chinese preferences over the years. I don't think people are 'turning to homosexuality' or such in response to a shortage of women.

Generally speaking, I think increasing homogenization of human populations is a good thing. If sex selection is an easy thing, and people start more preferentially selecting one sex over another enough to cause a sex disparity, my guess is it would A ) be a fleeting generational thing, or B ) just mean that generation feels better about outbreeding.

/speculation
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:38 am UTC

Ah, knowing what futures generations need, versus what the present generation wants. Grow kids with neon blue stripes only to find that orange stripes are the fashion when they toodle off to college./bad humor

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:59 am UTC

Spoiler:
Izawwlgood wrote:I don't think people are 'turning to homosexuality' or such in response to a shortage of women.


Just quickly, there is ample evidence which suggests that sexual orientation is largely influenced in utero. Although sexual orientation can be a fluidic thing (the idea of binary sexual orientation is pretty much just wrong) and situational homosexuality is also a real thing. Lets just kill the idea of ones environment being able to influence ones sexual orientations, before the Christians or other helpful people who want to fix homosexuals, read about it. Anyway, carry on.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:01 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Anybody care to speculate on exactly what you would improve to create a more intelligent human?


Steps to figure out how to increase the number of more-intelligent humans:

0. Have a lot of money.
1. Undertake a massive DNA and biometrics collection program, including IQ measurement.
2. Sequence all the genomes.
3. Find statistical correlations between genes and intelligence (and a lot of other things, depending on the extent of their biometrics data).

Hideously expensive today, who can say for sure in fifteen years (since that number keeps getting thrown around in this thread). Sequencing would be the bottleneck until we discover the enhance button, but anyone attempting this kind of project would probably recognise that time to completion would be over decades.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:12 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:
Spoiler:
Izawwlgood wrote:I don't think people are 'turning to homosexuality' or such in response to a shortage of women.


Just quickly, there is ample evidence which suggests that sexual orientation is largely influenced in utero. Although sexual orientation can be a fluidic thing (the idea of binary sexual orientation is pretty much just wrong) and situational homosexuality is also a real thing. Lets just kill the idea of ones environment being able to influence ones sexual orientations, before the Christians or other helpful people who want to fix homosexuals, read about it. Anyway, carry on.

@BMoose - Of course, valid clarification. I did not mean to suggest that such sinful Chinese situational homosexuals pray away the gay, or such, and apologize if it seemed as much.


@Sheikh al-Majaneen: What you just outlined is literally what is being done in that Wired article!
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 11, 2015 10:39 am UTC

Maybe, but then again it could be like fusion, a goal you can see but that you never seem to get to. They share a lot of the same characteristics. However it causes me to have a strange vision, a world with garbage men with IQ of 160, unless of course you think that we would split the race into two, the brainy overlords and their weaker minded average serfs. Or you think that we will eventually replace garbage men with robots, my personal opinion(seems like a prime use), and enhance everyone.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:10 am UTC

I think a lot of experts are concerned that even without direct manipulation (or rather intentional manipulation) thats what is happening.

The less inteligent are having children together at a fertility rate of 2+, graduates and professionals are having children together at a fertility rate of about 1.2

Given that inteligence is somewhere between 0.6 and 0.8 heritable, anyone expecting inequality to reduce is on to a loser :)

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:25 pm UTC

For the love of... this is literally the same bullshit I'm seeing on /r/race_reality!

There is greater diversity of intelligence within individuals of the same family than what you can expect from heritability of intelligence.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:41 pm UTC

Yeah, the problem with the crisis is that most of the people who want to do anything about it are hardcore racists.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:48 pm UTC

What crisis?

Variability between individuals in a given family is pretty significant, but you know what's more significant on intelligence? Environmental toxin exposure and poverty. You want to raise the collective IQ of our civilization, stop blathering about GE or eugenics or mandatory breeding programs - start raising the poverty line! Start providing safety nets to remove the stress of poverty!

What do you think is more effective, 1000 people with a slightly elevated IQ, or an entire population of people not suffering from lead paint exposure? 1000 people who test 5-15 pts above the average, or a society that allows this guy to thrive and flourish?

Education has is one of the best investments a country can make, with each dollar put into educating children a lot of dollars not spent later on crime. I'm all about discussing the ethics of GE, but comon people, lets stop deluding ourselves with 'how we can maximally impact the world' here. Spoiler alert! It's not going to start from twerking intelligence pathways, it's going to be from preventing malnutrition and disease.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:32 pm UTC

You had to see this coming didn't you?

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:39 pm UTC

No, I genuinely hoped better from the forum. And I am also particularly frustrated due to exchanges on reddit of late.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:43 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:For the love of... this is literally the same bullshit I'm seeing on /r/race_reality!

There is greater diversity of intelligence within individuals of the same family than what you can expect from heritability of intelligence.


lets not go down the side road of the first point it adds nothing to this discussion

The later point, I'm not sure what you mean, but I'm pretty sure that its a horrible misrepresentation. The inheritance of inteligence is a reality, but then the last futile argument I had on this was at university with someone who insisted that it was zero percent inheritable (english student). At the time I was just stunned by the mind blowing level of denial that needs. Don't get me wrong I understand why this reality is resisted by a multitude of different people with different agendas, but hey reality doesn't care.

The interesting thing is why reality matters and the answer is in your post. People who continue to deny the almost irrefutable impact of genetics almost invariably advocate massively expensive programmes to close a gap that they see as 100% social. No one in the west is being retarded due to lead or malnutrition these days I'm afraid and I'd put my own money that spending a fortune will merely have minor impacts - which is strangely exactly what happens. Sure you can drive marginally "better" exam results by crapping money all over the education system, but the one thing that most people refuse to see is that education and specifically further education is a massively expensive inteligence sorting apparatus in the main :) (sure some has direct relevence to careers, some proves dedication and temperment but...)

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:56 pm UTC

I'm not sure you understand the point I'm making - intelligence *is* heritable, but it also accounts for *less* than the variation you see between family members anyway, the variation you see between random members of the population, and variation you see due to environmental factors.

leady wrote:No one in the west is being retarded due to lead or malnutrition these days I'm afraid and I'd put my own money that spending a fortune will merely have minor impact

You are demonstrably wrong about the suppression of IQ in America due to poverty.
You are also demonstrably wrong in the assumption about lead exposure.

Again, you want to collectively improve the intelligence of people in a country? Bring them out of poverty, protect them from debt spirals, and educate them. It's so much easier than science fiction, and also exactly why I suggested earlier that stymieing disease is going to be more impactful than 'enhancing intelligence'.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:35 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm not sure you understand the point I'm making - intelligence *is* heritable, but it also accounts for *less* than the variation you see between family members anyway, the variation you see between random members of the population, and variation you see due to environmental factors.


I'm sorry but I still don't get your meaning here. Two inteligent people are more likely to have inteligent kids subject to standard regression. If you are claiming that the deviation across a family group (say 10 kids) is higher than the population as a whole, then who cares as the average will be substantially higher ?



The first is effectively the very obvious and known effect that under immediate stress people perform worse. The second is solved so no issue anymore. Thats not to say environmental factors aren't an issue, but they need to be fairly drastic like severe child neglect / malnutrition / poisoning.

But what makes these claims very suspect is that the IQs measured in say denmark, sweden etc are all still normalised to 100. What you are essentially claiming (a lot of lower IQ is environment rather than innate) would make the normal curve look remarkably boltzman like in scandinavia, which would cause a much higher mean.

As a say I think you could throw a lot of money at this stuff with close to zero positive evidence it will have any meaningful effect - but thats not an answer people or politicians (either side) like so this is little more than an abstract debate in the west.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:06 pm UTC

Assuming that intelligence is heritable and I do, which trend overwhelms which? Are we getting smarter or dumber? And how would GE change that?
leady wrote:The second is solved so no issue anymore.
Well I don't know about that. I might buy into lessened. A significant portion of the US still has houses with lead paint particularly in areas high in poverty, not to mention years of lead being pumped into the environment in various ways. It's better, not gone.
Pica is more commonly seen in women and children, and in areas of low socioeconomic status.[3] Particularly it is seen in pregnant women, small children, and those with developmental disabilities such as autism. Children eating painted plaster containing lead may suffer brain damage from lead poisoning. There is a similar risk from eating soil near roads that existed before tetraethyllead in petrol was phased out (in some countries) or before people stopped using contaminated oil (containing toxic PCBs or dioxin) to settle dust.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:12 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Variability between individuals in a given family is pretty significant, but you know what's more significant on intelligence? Environmental toxin exposure and poverty. You want to raise the collective IQ of our civilization, stop blathering about GE or eugenics or mandatory breeding programs - start raising the poverty line! Start providing safety nets to remove the stress of poverty!

What do you think is more effective, 1000 people with a slightly elevated IQ, or an entire population of people not suffering from lead paint exposure? 1000 people who test 5-15 pts above the average, or a society that allows this guy to thrive and flourish?


Wow. Here we can see the equivalent of climate deniers.
It doesn't matter if it's real if it makes you feel bad or would imply things you don't like.

Where do you keep getting that 5-15 pts number? if you started with a population all above 150 and kept selecting you'd easily get a population with an average far more than 105. to be clear: It would have basically zero effect on the general population but your closed population is likely to do much better.

Poverty, toxins, nutrition have a very real effect on IQ. Absolutely. No arguing with that. it's utterly true.
They also have a very real effect on height.
Pretty much the exact same effect: stunting it.

Both IQ and height are heritable. Measurably,
Height slightly more so than IQ.

Starve and poison a child of a pair of 7 foot tall people and she's can still end up 4 foot 5.
Starve and poison a child of a pair of 150 IQ people and you can still end up with someone who can't think so well.

Like height you still top out at some point. Nutrition can only go so far.
Compared to average people from 1900 most of us are giants.
mildly exceptional modern highschool running teams can beat 1900 Olympic records.
Utterly average modern 20 year olds today would have just about qualified as geniuses in 1900.

We've *already* massively massively improved these things but you still get a normal distribution when the limiting factor is no longer food supply.

I personally like to believe we can still push further with education, I'm sure nutrition can be pushed a little further at the bottom of the scale and pollution controls introduced in the last few decades will hopefully continue to pay off.

Yes, if you want to improve average global IQ dropping a few hundred billion on food programs for the 3rd world would probably have more effect than anything else for the same money.

But if you're middle class in the US or Europe who isn't feeding their child lead paint, who can afford decent food and educates their child about the only thing left to you that you can use to improve your child's intellect is to find a really smart person to be the other parent. Pretty much like height really. Extra vitamins aren't gonna make them put on that extra foot.

As such, people who want to improve their kids chances in life are likely to be willing to spend a lot of resources on exactly that so sadly GE is more likely and realistic than people actually sorting out world poverty.

On that note I'm betting height would be something the rich and powerful would happily engineer their kids for, there's a small number of known snp's which have a big effect on height and height is a big predictor of career success.

Corruptuser: "crisis" is a strong word for something that is unlikely to be a problem for thousands of years. Changes on that scale are slow.

TL;DR But that doesn't matter because Izawwlgood has decided what's "allowed" to be true based on political positions rather than boring old science like twin studies.
Last edited by HungryHobo on Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:30 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby leady » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:23 pm UTC

for the record even James Flynn has essentially admitted that the Flynn effect (essentially the normalisation to near to perfect environment across the population) finished in the 80s I think - too lazy to check so bonus points for a contradiction :)

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:26 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
HungryHobo wrote:hang on... at what point did we jump to humans being born as fully formed adults?
It's an analogy, and the quote you have left unattributed is mine. I wouldn't care, except that it follows another quote that is attributed to CorruptUser, and that style of quoting implies that CorruptUser continues to be quoted when this is not the case.

Genetic engineering is fast, in comparison to natural (or even unnatural) selection. at the (speculative*) limit, you pick the genes you want and put them in your shopping cart; nine months later out comes a designer baby that's way more intelligent than you are. AI (off topic but relevant as a parallel) is similar; the "intelligence" of programs is increasing much faster than intelligence does in nature. The key being that it's faster than loyalty. To create an illustrative parallel with power (or strength) I accelerated the "growing up" process in my analogy. I do not mean to imply that actual genetic engineering will result in actual all-grown-up births.

Now note - an analogy is not proof. It is illustration. Cartoon if you will. But it helps convey an idea. That is why I used it.

Jose
* This is a speculative thread, right?


Why can't loyalty be developed faster?

Izawwlgood wrote:For the love of... this is literally the same bullshit I'm seeing on /r/race_reality!

There is greater diversity of intelligence within individuals of the same family than what you can expect from heritability of intelligence.


Well, yeah. Most of us are not limited in intelligence primarily by genetics. There are heritable components, but there are other VERY large factors. Merely making smart people smash out babies together isn't likely to produce a great deal of progress. We're firmly in hypothetical territory with this whole conversation. But sometimes, hypothetical conversations are fun.

It's hard to put a precise number of heritibility of intelligence strictly because of the usually fuzzy definitions of intelligence, but the highest hard numbers I've seen center around g-factor theory, and if you buy them, suggest around 80% heritability(note that this will likely include epigentic factors as well). Even if that's strictly accurate(which...cmon, developing field and all that), specific skills can diverge a great deal more, and a 20% difference is still quite significant. Note that these studies tend to be pretty heavily western biased, so it's unlikely that malnutrition, etc are represented in that 20%.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:32 pm UTC

Izawwlgood

1) no one is denying the role of nutrition and safety and education in intelligence
2) no one is claiming that we shouldn't work to maximize the intelligence of people that already exist

The point is that genetic factors DO impact intelligence. They aren't a given, of course; they are a potential. But you can only reach your "full" potential. Do you think early hominids were just as intelligent as modern humans? Do you think that was only because early hominids didn't have modern nutrition and welfare? The fear is that as the people with the most potential have fewer kids than the people with the least potential. The result is that over time, the gene pool will have a smaller share of 'smart' genes.

And unfortunately, the people that are most concerned about this, yes, are usually concerned for all the wrong reasons. I mean, "miscegenation" is a damn good thing because of hybrid vigor.

Sure, if you were to clone a bunch of Einsteins but starve and torture them, you'll produce probably worse people than if you were to clone a bunch of schmucks but give them adequate food and education. No one is denying that. Health and education will turn those schmucks into truck drivers and welders, which do benefit society, far more than petty criminals, but no amount of medicine or education will turn them into scientists any more than training can make a person with poor reflexes and a small build into a star basketball player.

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 11, 2015 4:47 pm UTC

Are we still talking about ethics and GE?
CorruptUser wrote:The fear is that as the people with the most potential have fewer kids than the people with the least potential. The result is that over time, the gene pool will have a smaller share of 'smart' genes.
You do of course realize this is a problem caused by intelligence and ethics don't you? The intelligence that some want to increase by GE gives us the ability to keep people alive who would not be able to compete, and helped us to develop the ethics that said this was right and proper. Not to mention the fact that kids are a lot of work and keep us from doing all those fun things. And is essentially what he who should not be named was attempting to "correct", among other things. Wasn't that one of his buzzwords, dilution of the Aryan race. I suspect this is what Izawwlgood reacted to, even if he didn't say so.(I thought I would complete the race to the bottom and Godwins law)

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Re: The Ethics of Genetic Engineering

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:00 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Why can't loyalty be developed faster?


To steelman the position, imagine we bred for intelligence similarly to how people have bred for egg weight in chickens in the past.

you can get a lot of returns in a small number of generations but eventually it tops out and you also find you have ultra-aggressive chickens that will murder each other at the drop of a hat because you've also unknowingly been selecting for ultra-dominant behavior. (which you don't want because it makes it harder to keep chickens)

if it happened in real life with commercial chicken breeding even though there was a commercial incentive to avoid it it could conceivably happen with GE.

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