All the cool biopunk stuff seems to be happening in China these days: Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys—and yes, they may be smarter
Here is the paper in question:
Shi, Lei, Xin Luo, Jin Jiang, Yongchang Chen, Cirong Liu, Ting Hu, Min Li, et al. 2019. “Transgenic Rhesus Monkeys Carrying the Human MCPH1 Gene Copies Show Human-like Neoteny of Brain Development.” National Science Review, March. https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nwz043.
Brain size and cognitive skills are the most dramatically changed traits in humans during evolution, and yet the genetic mechanisms underlying these human-specific changes remain elusive. Here, we successfully generated 11 transgenic rhesus monkeys (8 first-generation and 3 second-generation) carrying human copies of MCPH1, an important gene for brain development and brain evolution. Brain image and tissue section analyses indicated an altered pattern of neural cell differentiation, resulting in a delayed neuronal maturation and neural fiber myelination of the transgenic monkeys, similar to the known evolutionary change of developmental delay (neoteny) in humans. Further brain transcriptome and tissue section analyses of major developmental stages showed a marked human-like expression delay of neuron-differentiation and synaptic signaling genes, providing a molecular explanation to the observed brain developmental delay of the transgenic monkeys. More importantly, the transgenic monkeys exhibited better short-term memory and shorter reaction time compared to the wild type controls in the delayed matching to sample task. The presented data represents the first attempt to experimentally interrogate the genetic basis of human brain origin using a transgenic monkey model, and it values the use of nonhuman primates in understanding human unique traits.
I strongly support this, we need to uplift the animals.
Intelligence is almost always adaptative. There are almost no conceivable ethical downsides to this.
There are questions on how we will support support these animals.
Well, if animals are uplifted, they could become as intelligent as humans. For instance, chimps would only need around 7-8 S.D.’s worth more of IQ to be competitive with humans. This would allow them to compete in the market economy.
To be sure, they will fall behind if we upgrade humans too – as we should – but the economy will become much more productive, allowing uplifted animals to be subsidized even as we use what we learned from uplifting them to further upgrade ourselves.
Conceivably, some animals may become even more intelligent than humans, e.g. elephants due to their high cranial capacity.
I am in general in favor of such biosingularity scenarios for a couple of reasons.
1. They seem safer than machine intelligence singularities (e.g. they are not as “fast”, and we can be pretty sure that we won’t accidentally scrub consciousness through genetic augmentations – unlike the case of mind loading).
2. It would certainly appear to be superior to dysgenic-technological slideback, which is the default future if there is no intelligence exposion this century (i.e. the Age of Malthusian Industrialism).
If it’s going to happen anywhere, it is going to happen in China. Judeo-Christians and SJWs are not going to allow it in the West.