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  • Whether you have an IQ of 50 or 150, we all like to feel smart.

  • After all, the minds of intelligent people like Einstein

  • Tesla or Stephen Hawking have no doubt helped shape the world we live in.

  • So is it feasible that we could genetically improve

  • the intelligence of our entire species? DNA is the basic code of life

  • found in every living organism, and this DNA is made up of genes,

  • which in turn are made up of four smaller parts

  • called nucleic bases, represented by the letters A, T, G and C.

  • In humans, these bases are arranged as three billion pairs,

  • which essentially act as a blueprint

  • for everything that cells in your body need to do.

  • Literally all that you are, from the way you look and act,

  • is defined by the organization of these four biological compounds.

  • And scientists have been able to find connections

  • between the way genes are organized in certain traits you exhibit,

  • from your sex to your eye color and even diseases you may develop.

  • It was actually the Human Genome Project which first began to analyze and map

  • all the genes in the human body. The initial project took over a decade

  • and three billion dollars to complete, with teams across the entire globe

  • working together. Today, with a much smaller team,

  • the same could be accomplished in a few days for only $4,000.

  • And the more sequenced genomes we accumulate, whether it be from plants

  • or microbes or humans, the more we have to compare and contrast

  • the traits we see on the outside with the gene combinations

  • we find on the inside. And that's exactly what

  • the Cognitive Genomics Project hopes to achieve.

  • By using over 2,000 people with IQs over 150,

  • and plans to bring on 20,000 more subjects,

  • researchers at the BGI Institute in China

  • are looking at the genetic basis for intelligence.

  • In other words, they're scanning through the DNA of thousands

  • of intelligent people to look for patterns that may be responsible

  • for making them smart in the first place.

  • Of course, this is a much more complicated task

  • than looking for, say, a disease pattern.

  • TaySachs and Huntingtons Disease are both caused by a single gene mutation

  • and are easily recognized. Hair and eye color, on the other hand,

  • depend on multiple genes interacting, but though with proper analysis

  • it can still be predicted. But traits like personality

  • or intelligence are almost certainly the result of thousands of genes

  • interacting in unique ways, a pattern which scientists have yet to discover.

  • And the truth is they may never find one.

  • But what happens if they do?

  • I mean, it could be a future of genius babies.

  • With the advent of in vitro fertilization,

  • you might be able to create multiple embryos and scan their DNA.

  • Scientists would then be able to identify which traits

  • are most likely in each embryo, based on their genes,

  • allowing parents to essentially choose which baby they most desire.

  • For example, this embryo has a 50% chance

  • of being exceptionally musical, or this one has a 58% chance

  • of having an IQ over 150. In this way, without actually changing

  • the genetic information, but rather screening it,

  • we may actually be able to increase the intelligence of future generations.

  • But what about you? Could you ever change your genetic makeup

  • to make you smarter, faster, or stronger right now?

  • Follow us over to Jake's channel, Vsauce 3, where we explain

  • how it might be possible.

  • Click here or use the link in the description.

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos!

  • Seriously, click the link!

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Whether you have an IQ of 50 or 150, we all like to feel smart.

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Can We Genetically Improve Intelligence?

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2014/04/16
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