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Reconstructing IntelligenceGenetic Therapy or Genetic Tinkering? Kashmir K. Singh HRS 305, Dr. I. Cherney Intelligence: Multiple Perspectives
Outline • DNA, Chromosomes, & Genes: A Brief Introduction • Genetics: A Crash Course • Designing Smarter Babies • Issues with Gene Therapy • The Value of Intelligence • Acknowledgements • References
DNA: The Genetic Blueprint • DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid • composed of four bases • adenine, guanine, cytosine, & thymine (A, G, C, & T) • transcribed into RNA • uracil instead of thymine • RNA - ribonucleic acid • codes for amino acids in triplets (codons) • amino acid chains are the primary structure of proteins • Proteins - peptide chains • functional molecules, such as enzymes
Genes Single Gene vs. Multiple Genes • as of now, no specific sequence(s) has/have been pinpointed for directly promoting intelligence • location on one or multiple chromosomes • expression of multiple genes is complicated
Genetics: A Crash Course • Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes • half of each pair comes from each parent • thus, there are two copies of each gene • expression of these genes is variable • Similarly, each parent passes on only half of his or her genetic material • What genetic information is contained in the gametes?
Genetics: A Crash Course • Gamete Formation • each sex cell contains one complete set of genes • genetic combinations are variable from one gamete to another due to • Independent Assortment • Crossing Over • Mutations • Transcription/Translation Errors • Two Gametes One Human • one gamete from each parents results in two copies of each gene, usually with different information • Which one is expressed?
Genetics: A Crash Course • Expression of Genes • specifically • random expression of one copy over another, partial expression of both copies, etc. • in general • dependent upon many factors • Environmental • Nutritional • Genetic • Developmental • variable over time • no formula for prediction
Designing Smarter Babies • How do we apply this information to intelligence? • the ‘discovery’ of intelligence genes • develop an understanding of the physiological processes behind expression • the basics of gene therapy • removal of old sequences of genes • insertion of new sequences of genes • insertion of promoters or inhibitors
Issues with Gene Therapy • Effectiveness • embryo vs. infant vs. child vs. adult • justifiable errors • Gene Pool Alteration • pass altered genes to future generations • possibility of dangerous mutations • ethics of science & medicine • artificial selection
The Value of Intelligence • Motivation for Alteration - Desire for an Intelligent Child • intelligent individuals lead ‘better’ lives, have successful careers, and are perceived as being ‘superior’ • with the seeming availability of the technology to do so, why not? • Artificial Inflation leads to Artificial Selection • example • the current ratio of intelligent individuals to non-intelligent individuals is 1:50 • intelligence enhancement is implemented, and now the ratio is 1:40 • the value that we assign to intelligence is diminished because its scarcity or novelty is reduced • the result - the definition of intelligence is changed - defeating the reason for the therapy in the first place
Acknowledgements • Dr. Harry Nickla, Department of Biology • Dr. Julie Soukup, Department of Chemistry
References • Billings, P. R., Hubbard, R., & Newman, S. A. (1999). Human germline gene modification: a dissent. The Lancet, 353, 1873-1875. • Goodey, C. (1997). Genes that are all in the mind. New Scientist, 154(2085), 49. • Huff, T. E. (1996). The Fourth Scientific Revolution. Society, 33(4), 9-13. • Klug, W. S. & Cummings, M. R. (2003). Concepts in Genetics, 7th ed, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Pearson Education, Inc. • Neidle, S. (2002). Nucleic Acid Structure and Recognition. Oxford University Press. • Nelson, D. L., & Cox, M. M. (2005). Leninger Principles of Biochemistry, 4th ed. New York: W.H. Freeman & Company. • Parens, E. (1995). Should we hold the (germ) line? Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics, 23, 173-176. • Travis, J. (1999). Gene tinkering makes memorable mice…Science News, 156(10).