Re: MEDICINE: When it rains it pours

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Mon Dec 03 2001 - 15:10:56 MST

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> As I pointed out to Eliezer offlist, once you have applications
> that allow the administration of brain cells into the brain and
> once we understand the qualities of brain cells that serve to
> increase intelligence (presumably intelligence genotyping is
> ongoing as I type) then adding genes (or a chromosome) to
> an embryonic stem cell for increased intelligence, producing
> millions or billions of them and augmenting your brain isn't
> going to be far behind. It is likely to raise some thorny
> ethical issues because its likely to be a pretty expensive
> therapy initially -- one which would serve to increase the
> divide between rich and poor.

Eliezer Yudkowsky commented:

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. A trick like this does not make the rich richer, it
makes the rich's children more intelligent. Is this bad for the poor? I
think emphatically NOT. It's stupid people with power that are the

### Since the initial uses of implanted embryonic stem cells would be for
treatment of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders, as well as
stroke, obtaining FDA approval should be possible, as long as the treatments
were reliably effective and safe. This is a pre-Singularity technology, and
some initial, related work is already under way, e.g. Dr Kondziolka from
UPMC Presbyterian did some trials of cell (not stem) implantations into
stroke patients.

Treating Alzheimer's is in fact IQ boosting - interfering with the natural
downward trajectory which our capabilities follow as we age. Once the
treatment works for demented patients, there is just a small step to
treating patients with MCI (mild cognitive impairment), then just another
step to IQ augmentation in MR (mental retardation), then everybody will
claim his child is retarded enough to qualify for treatment - and we will
have widespread use of IQ augmentation in no time (as long as it is
technically possible). If there is a ready supply of cells implantable in
everybody (regardless of histocompatibility), the procedure should be
reasonably priced.

So I agree with Robert regarding the prospects for clinical applications
coming realtively soon (5-10 years), and I agree with Eliezer that the
ethical issues will not be a showstopper.


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