9 Comments
Apr 21·edited Apr 21Liked by Ives Parr

I totally agree - in a post-scarcity society, status is entirely about positional goods, and IQ and smarts are positional. IQ is going to matter *much more,* not less, in a post-scarcity society.

I had an interesting debate with Bryan Caplan's sons about education-as-signaling a few months ago. I maintained that millions of parents wouldn't be engaging in bitter Red Queen's Races to get their precious Jaydens into the right preschools, then grinding furiously for 18 years to ultimately get them into Harvard, unless the benefits were actually there and actually significant.

They maintained there were studies showing IQ matters more than undergraduate institution for career success - ultimately we agreed there probably is something there, and what it is, is posterity. An Ivy degree is a positional status good, and what it gets you is access to a better and higher status pool of mates, and presumably some decent percentage of the time, access to that pool pays off in mate and grandkid quality.

Similarly, IQ in a post-scarcity society will be purely positional, and presumably increase the quality of your grandkids, by increasing the quality of mates in the pool available to your high-IQ kids.

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Agree on all points (and thanks for the call out).

I would say that even though there is a good chance that it will be way too late to use any of the extra brainpower generated from human intelligence enhancement that begins today on the alignment problem, it is still as Yudkowsky might say a more dignified usage of limited research resources than most anything else you can do apart from AI.

Besides, as you also correctly point out, the future is hard to predict. While it would have been best to accelerate intelligence the day before yesterday than today, it's nonetheless better to do it today than tomorrow.

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Apr 22Liked by Ives Parr

This misses a huge reason for enhanced IQ: Mate preference. Regardless of the practical use of higher IQ, it is a fact human nature that higher IQ people are generally attracted to higher IQ mates. This is a zero sum game. If you are 2 standard deviations below the norm, whatever that may be, you are going to find it really hard to find anyone who wants to have babies with you. Low IQ women might be able to get away with it (think sperm donors) but all futures look bleak for low IQ men.

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Nice musings here Ives. I think the underlying problem is one of ethics and regulation. It is much easier to advance and improve AI because we can iterate, experiment, and improve quickly.

On the other hand, genetic engineering is hamstrung, so it follows that AI advancement of machines will outpace our ability to enhance ourselves.

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author

Thanks, J.K.

We know what high IQ people are like. We don't really know what exactly ChatGPT-8 is going to look like. When we start going past IQ 200, we should tread carefully. But people like John von Neumann are a nice example of how an extremely smart person can exist without having major issues.

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Apr 21·edited Apr 21Liked by Ives Parr

I think the ethics and regulation is less of a problem, overall. As long as *some* country in the world will do IQ and cosmetic gengineering for a price, as long as the actual outcomes are reliably generated for that price, people will fly into that country to gengineer the embryos.

Then it's a Red Queen's Race just like the Harvard grind in my comment above - everyone who thinks they're anybody will start doing it, volume will go up, price will go down, and eventually regulatory environments and governments thirsty for expensive procedures they can tax will prevail, and it will become available in more countries, and eventually hit the mass market in enough Western countries that everyone will fall into line just to stay even.

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Well, people are working on IQ enhancement. You just have to find them.

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Great stuff here. Recently wrote about the state of Gene Therapy in America. Would love your thoughts

https://open.substack.com/pub/matthewharris/p/gene-therapy?r=298d1j&utm_medium=ios

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“ …having a lower IQ increases a person’s risk of committing crimes. It also increases the likelihood of getting into a traffic accident. Even if we had a superintelligent oracle, it is not clear that it could easily facilitate some of the beneficial behaviors associated with high IQ,…”

Cause and effect, and perhaps independence, come into play here I think. IIRC, we have associated certain violent behavioral tendencies with certain gene(s)—more in one race than another in some cases. (Winging it here from vague memory.) So would genetic engineering still be worthwhile aside from those which would directly affect IQ? There certainly are no shortage of highly intelligent psychopaths/sociopaths in our society—something on the order of 5% from my readings. Such folk may serve a purpose in society, but I for one would not miss them, but that’s just me. ;-)

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