Can Genius be Genetically Engineered?

Source: 92nd Y, Mar 2016

With rapid advances in genome sequencing, genetic analysis and precision gene editing, it’s becoming ever more likely that embryo selection and genetic engineering could be used to optimize the intelligence of our future children.

How this will affect the future of our evolution as a species is still an open question. In this discussion, four brilliant minds come at this question from different perspectives:

Experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, is one of the world’s leading authorities on language and the mind; his recent book, The Blank Slate, explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political implications.

Sociologist Dalton Conley, University Professor of the Social Sciences at New York University, looks at the issue in its social context; in addition to books on race and class, he also wrote Parentology, on the science of raising children, and a forthcoming book The Genome Factor: What the Social Genomics Revolution tells us about our history, ourselves and our future (Princeton University Press, Fall 2017).

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hsu, Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University, was founder and CEO of SafeWeb, an information security startup acquired by Symantec, and is a scientific advisor to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute).

Moderator Jamie Metzl is Senior Fellow for Technology and National Security of the Atlantic Council and a former National Security Council, State Department, US Senate, and United Nations official. A globally syndicated columnist and national media commentator, he is the author of the genetics thriller Genesis Code, and his forthcoming novel, Eternal Sonata (Arcade, Fall 2016), deals with stem cell treatments that reverse the aging process.

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