On the Improvement of the Population

Two related stories, Slashdot‘s “Where To Draw the Line With Embryo Selection?” and Scientific Blogging‘s “Analyzing The Homicide Trend In Young Men” together evoke questions about the future of eugenics (improvement in the genetics of a population) and dysgenics (degradation of the genetics of a population) in the future.

Clearly we’re rapidly approaching adoption of relatively painless choice-based selection when it comes to the future generation. If parents really are concerned their kid will be unacceptably lazy, unacceptably dull, unacceptably slow, etc., they will be able to ‘load the dice’ by selecting embryos that offer the best hope in the desired dimensions. If we ban the procedure in the west, there’s no reason to think it won’t become a booming industry in China, in India, in Thailand, in Mexico, or in other countries already popular for medical tourism.

However, it’s likely there will be government controls anyway. Consider the thugs who commit crimes and cause other troubles. There’s nothing theoretically to stop them from selecting children that are more vicious, more hostile, and more anti-social than would otherwise be the case. To stop this, the government will ban these procedures. Though the underclass is as free as the rest of the population to seek medical tourism abroad, what did Voltaire say about freedom? Something like, In France, the law prevents both the rich and the poor from sleeping under a bridge at night!.

So we probably will have a de facto eugenics policy, where those who look to improve their kids are able to afford to do so, while those not able to are not able to afford the procedure.

Voting Behavior

The 5th Gradient of War, 5GW, relies on altering the observations of an enemy. This is often taken to mean that 5GW means secrecy, but it can involve manipulating perceptions in a way that changes behavior without a change of “heart” (which would be the role of 4GW). Two recent articles present possibilities for the 5GWarrior. First, Aherring’s “Where You Vote and How You Vote: Proto-5GW Thinking in a Study of the Context of Voting” explicitly ties changing perceptions into 5GW. The post is doubly exciting because I had previously worked on original research where we demonstrated something similar. Secondly, Razib’s “Heritability of voting includes the remarkable line: 53% of the variance in turnout behavior can be accounted for by additive genetic effects .

The second link is most interesting in the context of xGW. If some future 5GWarrior would attack the genetic code of some population to change the behaviors they engage in, would that be one of the already discussed gradients of warfare, or something else?