Could human intelligence be genetically modified before long?

Publié le 21 Sep, 2015

At a time when scientists have succeeded in modifying the intellectual capacities of mice by sequencing their DNA and when the Hinxton group is requesting authorisation to genetically modify human embryos, Laurent Alexandre, President of DNA Vision, is returning to the frightening possibility of modifying the IQ in the womb.


 “Should we limit ourselves to correcting genetic anomalies responsible for diseases or, in keeping with the transhumanist view, increase the capacities (mostly brain power) of the population?” he wonders.  Although, fortunately, a very small number of French people respond negatively to the second alternative, almost 38% and 39% of Indians and Chinese, respectively, claim that they are ready for such changes.  The Chinese were “the most forward when it came to these technologies and wouldn’t think twice about increasing their children’s IQ using biotechnological techniques”.


Although “neuro-enhancement” or “cerebral augmentation” sounds as though it has just walked off the set of a science fiction film, it could nevertheless soon come to fruition with Chinese scientists having carried out the first genetic handling of human embryos in April 2015 (cf. Gènéthique du 23 avril 2015).


According to Sebastian Thrun, inventor of the Google Car, “cerebral augmentation” should gradually come to the fore with the growth in artificial intelligence.“Given the increasing efficacy of machines, it will become more and more difficult for human beings to make a productive contribution to society.  Machines could quickly overtake us.  Taxi drivers will be amongst the first to be replaced by machines, but no profession can rest on its laurels”. Consequently, Laurent Alexandre believes that “this anxiety regarding artificial intelligence should lead most parents to accept cerebral augmentation technologies for their children as soon as they are able to absorb them”


Le Monde (21/09/2015)

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