The Biointelligence Explosion [chapter]

David Pearce
2012 The Frontiers Collection  
The Fate of the Germline Genetic evolution is slow. Progress in artificial intelligence is fast (Kurzweil 2005) . Only a handful of genes separate Homo sapiens from our hominid ancestors on the African savannah. Among our 23,000-odd protein-coding genes, variance in single nucleotide polymorphisms accounts for just a small percentage of phenotypic variance in intelligence as measured by what we call IQ tests. True, the tempo of human evolution is about to accelerate. As the reproductive
more » ... on of "designer babies" (Stock 2002) gathers pace, prospective parents will pre-select alleles and allelic combinations for a new child in anticipation of their behavioural effects -a novel kind of selection pressure to replace the "blind" genetic roulette of natural selection. In time, routine embryo screening via preimplantation genetic diagnosis will be complemented by gene therapy, genetic enhancement and then true designer zygotes. In consequence, life on Earth will also become progressively happier as the hedonic treadmill is recalibrated. In the new reproductive era, hedonic set-points and intelligence alike will be ratcheted upwards in virtue of selection pressure. For what parent-to-be wants to give birth to a low-status depressive "loser"? Future parents can enjoy raising a normal transhuman supergenius who grows up to be faster than Usain Bolt, more beautiful than Marilyn Monroe, more saintly than Nelson Mandela, more creative than Shakespeare -and smarter than Einstein. Even so, the accelerating growth of germline engineering will be a comparatively slow process. In this scenario, sentient biological machines will design cognitively self-amplifying biological machines who will design cognitively self-amplifying biological machines. Greater-than-human biological intelligence will transform itself into posthuman superintelligence. Cumulative gains in intellectual capacity and subjective well-being across the generations will play out over hundreds and perhaps thousands of years -a momentous discontinuity, for sure, and a twinkle in the eye of eternity; but not a BioSingularity.
doi:10.1007/978-3-642-32560-1_11 fatcat:7bpjlkuwcbghlbn6djidac4mda