Neurohacking [was Re: Major Public AI Backlash Inevitable.]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Wed, 4 Aug 1999 03:24:00 -0700 (PDT)

> Eliezer wrote:

> I'd love to work on neurohacking but unfortunately I expect enough
> public and governmental interference to make the point moot. Nobody's
> going to let me experiment on 11-year-olds, which is where the most good
> could be done. I doubt it'll even be possible to hack around with
> adults except on some offshore hospital-boat. And I certainly can't run
> the effort via PGP.

I think you may be wrong. As soon as the genes responsible for intelligence are identified (~50% +/- (some disputable amount) of intelligence is inherited) we are going to have to face up to the facts that (a) parents are going to want to genotype and select "intelligent"

children (after all you are "investing" ~$500K in raising them). (b) engineer them directly for intelligence.

The writing is on the wall. There is an article to be published this fall by Finch & Sapolsky (leading aging researchers) that discusses the evolution of the Apo E4/E3/E2 alleles in humans. It primarily focuses on the effect these genes have on longevity but may also mention some relationship to intelligence. There is another study, mentioned by Finch at the June '99 "AGE" conference, that finds that E4 (I think) has a lower probability of being found among college students than in the general population. [This makes some sense because E4 is the original primate gene.]

Once this information leaks out and cheap genotyping is available (a few $$ in your Doctor's office), then the "neurohacking" discussion (at the genetic level) is going to make the GM-Crop discussion seem like a warm-up run. Once GM-neurohacking becomes accepted in creating children, the problem of retrofitting all of us "handicapped" oldies is going to raise its ugly head.

You may be right about not getting a chance to neurohack the kids (for ethical reasons), but I'll give you better than even money by ~2010-2015 you'll be given the opportunity to do it with adults.