Homeotics (was: Re: Intelligence enhancement)

From: Damien Broderick (d.broderick@english.unimelb.edu.au)
Date: Sun Dec 02 2001 - 16:59:20 MST

At 11:49 AM 11/30/01 -0800, Mark Walker wrote:

>(1) we have the technology
>presently to make non-arbitrary alterations, and (2) manipulating the
>homeobox genes in question might prove to be a sufficient condition for
>creating a greater than human intelligence. Given the plasticity of the
>neocortex during ontogenesis, and its role in so-called higher cognitive
>functions, I think this would be a good area to experiment with.

I don't think people have appreciated fully the brilliant incisiveness of
Mark's suggestion. Working with homeoboxen seems likely to allow some major
non-random jumps forward. I suspect that just as proteomics offers more
significant advances than genomics alone, homeotics might permit almost
Kauffman-like leaps through pheno-phase space.

A rather nice fictional depiction of `Applied Homeotics' is Brian
Stableford's December 2000 ANALOG story `A Snowball in Hell', reprinted
recently in Gardner Dozois, ed., YEAR'S BEST SF 18. (By the way, this
volume shows some impact from sometime-listmembers, as I mentioned
previously: Charlie Stross has two zingers in the book; Russell Blackford
gets two honorable mentions and Vernor Vinge, Ken MacLeod and I get one
each, as does Charlie in his third appearance. Apologies if I've missed

Damien Broderick

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