[ExI] A Gedanken Rational Eugenics Experiment (AGREE)

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Thu Oct 24 10:43:51 UTC 2013

Fertility is surprisingly changeable through culture and institutions. 
The points made about higher education being parent-unfriendly are just 
the tip of the iceberg; the big birth differential between northern and 
southern Europe is largely due to institutional affordances... and *soap 
operas* have been a major vector in changing fertility patterns in 
Brazil and India.

But getting less smart people have fewer children requires them to (1) 
think this is a good idea, and (2) recognize that they are less smart. 2 
often fails due to the Dunning-Kruger effect. And 1 is often overruled 
by emotion and (one could argue) freerider problems ("Yes, we are a 
stupid couple, but we *and our children* will benefit from living in a 
smarter society.")

This is why I think liberal eugenics, which works by parents selecting 
themselves what traits to go for, might be more robust. And cheaper...

On 2013-10-24 02:16, rex wrote:
> Since IQ is highly heritable, all else being equal, mean IQ would rise
> if low IQ individuals were offered payment not to breed.

Note that you would need to pay *a lot*. The below 1 SD population is 
around 15%, so in the US that would be about 47 million people you need 
to pay off. I am not sure what the going price for getting sterilized 
is, but at least I expect it to be on the order of a few thousand 
dollars - we are easily talking hundreds of billions here. Not quite as 
much as is already spent on elementary schools, but still a lot.

> Note that even when only 25% of the low-IQ women choose not to breed
> the fraction of high-IQ people increases by a factor of 5.

Impressive. Except, as noted, it takes 15 generations and would cost you 
a lot.

I am mildly sceptical of the smart fraction theory. Yes, breakthrough 
happens because of geniuses and clusters of genius (I am fond of 
Murray's "Human Excellence"). But most of the big economic and 
technological growth requires a lot of talent rather than a few 
spearheads: the network effects of a smart, long-term oriented, 
low-friction society seem to matter enormously.

Cynically, it might be more cost-effective to spend those billions on 
deworming and education in Africa and Asia, and then open your borders 
to brain-drain smart people...

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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