One of the great problems in designing an Artificial Intelligence we can control is our own lack of sufficient intelligence. Partial failure here (success as designing an AI, failure at control) would result in a future where we're all dead or pets to greater beings at best.

It would be helpful if biological humans were smarter. Nick Bostrom discuses a cognitive-enhancement process through repeated genetic selection. He argues that if the heritable genetic characteristics of intelligence can be assessed by large-scale correlation studies, a 1 in 100 selection pressure (select the "best" out of 100) towards correlates of higher cognitive function repeated over 10 gamete (sperm + egg) generations can result in massive IQ boosts in the selected individuals (upwards of 100 IQ points total gain at the end of the selection process compared to the baseline - i.e. us).

If Bostrom's scenario is realistic, what would be the social implications of such a selective process if there were, say, 1% adoption of this method among the population? In other words, how smart can we get, and still retain a viable society?

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    $\begingroup$ It would be impractical as folks such as myself would take it upon ourselves to kill the eugenists. $\endgroup$
    – King-Ink
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ Better than the alternative $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ that Kornbluth Guy is ripping off Idiocracy. Time travelers are shameless. IQ (which might not be a real thing) seems to be trending up. $\endgroup$
    – King-Ink
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ Are you interested in answers phrased in the negative? As someone who plays with optimization tools like genetic algorithms, I can tell you GA's are the best tool we have today for one particular task: demonstrating just how poor your choice of fitness functions was in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ Are you looking for purely biological enhancements or cybernetics too? $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 10:08

3 Answers 3


I think that some governments might create a very secret, well controlled group of highly intelligent super-scientists who's jobs it would be to gain them tremendous advantages over their competition.

These people could be depended on to figure out issues which would otherwise take decades to research and understand, as well as design weapons systems, and other technologies which would put that that country ahead of everyone else.

The way in which you'd keep these people from effectively becoming our overlords is by keeping them on a tight leash. Indoctrinating them from birth seems like a logical first step, however anyone truly intelligent will likely outgrow their conditioning. At that point having a good-ol fashioned goon with a gun aimed at their head will help maintain control.

Even then, these people may very well figure out how to gain control. Depending on how they view the rest of us (insects to be crushed vs their disadvantaged cousins) they may or may not make better leaders than the ones we have today.

  • $\begingroup$ Gotta do it, since someone will anyhow: Khaaaan! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @SerbanTanasa - pretty much, yes. Khaaaan! $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ I also thought Khan was a good name for a dog. It would be a pleasure to call them over from the other side of the park. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Samuel Really? I always thought Fire would be a great name for a dog. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ What exactly is Khan? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 1:14

This would certainly increase the number of 'geniuses' that are produced rather significantly, and after a few more generations, redefine what we consider genius.

Many smart people are already looked on as odd frequently because of how they interact with others. Somewhere I read a quote that we can really only effectively communicate with people within a certain IQ range of our selves. I think it might 30 IQ points. So as you get people who are smarter and smarter they will by default tend to separate themselves from us (and us from them). We would have two separate societies emerging. Eventually they might take over governing us, since they would be smart enough to manipulate us like pets. Now if they became despotic, they would likely be overthrown and maybe wiped out, but being that much smarter than us, more likely they would take the road of benevolent dictators and making sure everyone is taken care of the the 'burden' placed on an one individual it 'relatively' light. If people are comfortable and occupied, they don't riot or resent (as much).

If the super intelligent don't flaunt their money and power, then there would be even less reason for discontent. Eventually they would likely get themselves a space vessel to leave us dirt diggers behind to our own devices.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't really think smart people would take it upon themselves to rule over everyone else. Smart people still have a lot of the same opinions as other people, just more erefined. You'd have a lot of smart people who support freedom. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, but we already do! freedom is just an illusion we allow you to keep... $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 1:08
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, don't worry, I know there isn't really true freedom as per the constitution anymore. But at least let stupid people play as much of a role as we desire. Let them join in caucus voting, where they can listen to eloquent intelligent people representing different points of view. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 1:13

The problem is in how we define "intelligence." If we limit it to "what is measured by IQ tests," then we can possibly increase this factor significantly, but at what cost. Note that many super-intelligent people are also very anti-social. Grigori Perelman is perhaps one of the most famous. Paul Erdos was friendly but eccentric. Thus, high IQ alone might not save us from the tyranny of AI, since the high-IQ individuals might not care a whit about that problem.

Today, our political leaders can hardly be considered the smartest in the pack. Even our CEOs tend towards sociopathy moreso than high IQ. So it is not exactly clear how high-IQ individuals would actually save us from the Robot Overlords, unless we employed them as defensive hackers in the NSA.

  • $\begingroup$ Well given that if AI take over the world it's their problem too, so I don't really see why you think they wouldn't bother doing anything. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ Leaders generally prevent bad things from happening by taking steps to prevent those things before they happen. This includes things like flood control, missile defenses, fire hydrants, etc. As far as I know, there is no "AI Defense Agency" anywhere in the world. Trying to get normal-IQ civilians to work for such a thing would be challenging enough. Trying to get high-IQ individuals to do it before the AIs became super-intelligent is quite another. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ And even if many of those hyper-intelligent folks agreed that super-intelligent AI is a threat, they may still prefer to solve math theorems instead. :/ $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ Well the larger problem is that people within the intelligentsia are already the only ones really takes steps to work on this issue, so I suspect the hyper-intelligent folks will be the only ones who actually take the threat of ai seriously $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27, 2016 at 3:11

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