Re: MEDICINE: When it rains it pours

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Dec 01 2001 - 20:51:51 MST

On Sat, 1 Dec 2001, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> Leaving aside the pre-Singularity/FDA issues (i.e: no way), let's not
> forget that this alleged divide between rich and poor is primarily a
> Luddite memetic plot. [snip]
> Intelligence affects which side you're on. Intelligence as tool is a Luddite concept;
> it is promoted by the side that sees no goodness in rationality,
> intelligence, and science. [snip]
> In other words, I do not view this as the "rich faction" gaining yet
> another advantage, but rather as an unusually roundabout way of recruiting
> wealth into the "smart faction".

Yes, Eliezer I think, has perhaps an important point here. My limited
thinking on the subject was based on the very narrow viewpoint that
intelligence correlates with success / lack of intelligence correlates
with lack of success. { Don't dis me on this, I think this was documented
quite effectively in a recent article, if I remember properly in Scientific
American, on how people with IQ's lower than ~90 had higher probabilities
of criminal activities, lower success in personal relationships, etc. }

The fact that intelligence may allow one to add an additional vector,
e.g. intelligence promotes rational thinking is perhaps very useful.
I'm unaware of "hard" data that says "intelligent" people are less
likely to believe in myths and fairy tales. One of the most intelligent
people I've ever encountered, a hard core physicist who was much smarter
than myself, was also a committed Christian. However, I'd tend to
lean in the direction that more intelligent people have a better
chance than most of removing irrational memetic paradigms.

So, I will grant that the point may have some merit. Perhaps offsetting
that might be the question of whether one would want to make presumably
intelligent individuals (Stalin?, Hussein?) with sociopathic tendencies
even smarter. [A few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch...]

As a side comment re: FDA approval -- it isn't clear to me once cells
have been "approved" for implantation whether the FDA would have any
say as to *where* or in whom they could be implanted. There is a *lot* of
flexibility that indivividual physicians have in the practice of Medicine
and the current Dept. of Justice vs. Oregon's Euthanasia standoff will tell
us a lot about the degree to which the constitution will limit the
federal powers regarding states rights in that area.

Then, Mike Linksvayer <> wrote:

> So, if you or anyone would care to speculate a bit more, I'm
> interested in 1) how and where new cells would be administered into
> the brain and 2) what kind of an impact such might have on intelligence.

I think you would have to ask Anders -- my guess is that anything that
boosts memory is going to involve the hippocampus. As far as rational
thought goes, I'd guess the cortex as a whole.

I would generally assume that human beings are functional with IQ's up into
the 170-180 range and so in theory you should at least be able to boost
people at least that far.

> But really, concern over intelligence-generated gap between rich
> and poor has got to be combatted. In a relatively free market, if
> someone gets rich through applying their intellect, they only get
> rich to the extent they provide superior goods that people are
> willing to pay for, increasing the wealth of the entire society in
> the process.

I'm forced, upon further reflection, to agree with Mike and Eliezer.
One would presume that state funded boosts of the least intelligent
would payoff in reduced state expenditures for such individuals.
So it makes sense that states would make support for such opperations
available to all who want them. (With the caveat that smart hardcore
criminals are likely to be a bigger problem than less smart criminals.)

Now, where it gets sticky is perhaps for the "average" individual --
one who doesn't cost the state anything but one who isn't winning
a Nobel prize every year either. I suppose one could argue that
providing the equivalent of a "student loan" program for them
to be able to fund their enhancements would make sense. However
I'm not sure what happens in a society where everyone has an
IQ of 170-180. Do we just get a reflection of the current
society with a bell curve of intelligence, wealth, etc. that is
much higher. Such a society would certainly advance much more
much more quickly into our future. If that is the correct picture
then the early adopters may have a relatively easy time repaying their
loans but the late adopters may find themselves in a much more
competitive market. Alternatively if it makes the society much
more productive then we might break through into the period where
survival itself is not dependent upon the exercise of ones capabilities
so there isn't really any downside per se.


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