The latest edition of The Economist magazine contains an interesting article entitled “The New Overlords” which reviews a book who’s thesis is that humans will continue to evolve, both physically and mentally but the basis of this evolution will be by means of genetic engineering rather than (as argued by Kurzweil), via a merging of machine and human intelligence. The view that humanity will surpass it’s current state by means of genetic manipulation is fascinating and frequently gets neglected in favour of the ideas of proponents of machine intelligence such as Kurzweil. Many years ago I read a book, entitled “Reshaping Eden in the Twenty-First Century” which propounded the view that, over a period of time genetic enhancements will lead to the emergence of different strains of humans and that these groups will grow ever further apart. The author contends that this will happen as those with greater resources pay for genetic enhancements (for themselves and their ofspring) which will lead to more intelligent individuals, people who have great musical abilities etc. In a free society, he contends it will be impossible to prevent such genetic manipulation and if governments attempt to impose bans individuals will get around these restrictions by, for example visiting countries with laxer (or no regulations). The book still sits on my bookshelf, however its been so long since I read it that I am, almost certainly not doing full justice to the arguments employed by the author.
For the Econimist article please visit http://www.economist.com/node/18329616?story_id=18329616&fsrc=rss