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Thursday, March 09, 2006
 

See this muddled beeb article about expected advances in genomics.

Dr Francis Collins, the scientist leading the Human Genome Project, says he expects important new gene sequences governing aspects of personality, such as intelligence and behaviour, to be known very shortly. . .

"We may be able to discover variations that correlate with intelligence, but to actually utilise that, to tinker with the human gene pool, is ethically a very difficult and challenging topic," he said.

"Scientifically, it's not something we know how to do."

And Dr Collins said that even if it were possible to augment intelligence - for example with a pill to raise it - it would potentially create a great divide between "who has access and who does not".

"If this is a particular approach which is very expensive and only available to people with lots of resources, then what have you done? You've created a divide in an already divided world.

"That is a very dangerous and troubling outcome, which I think we should guard against."

Collins is the bureaucrat who was presiding over a multi-decade project to decode the human genome until a maverick entrepreneur in a private company using new technologies ruined his plan to spend his whole career sleeping through the decoding. He's no leader.

And he's not very bright. If we do discover ways to boost intelligence then progress will accelerate. The "divide" he whinges about would move too. There would be those who had more, but those with less would still have an improved material existence, would have more than if the discoveries had not been made. This is not something that any thinking person would want to "guard against". Only a bureaucrat seeking a comfortable place to sit and serve his time would think so.

posted by back40 | 3/09/2006 11:26:00 AM

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