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Manuel_Mörtelmaier comments on Growing Up is Hard - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 04 January 2009 03:55AM

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Comment author: Manuel_Mörtelmaier 04 January 2009 12:30:23PM 0 points [-]

You're implying that the functioning of biological systems is highly sensitive to maintaining the "right" concentration of several active compounds. This is generally not correct. Quite to the contrary, "Robustness is one of the fundamental characteristics of biological systems." (Hiroaki Kitano, Molecular Systems Biology, 3:137, 2007; a good review article that contains multiple pointers to relevant publications.)

Note that this finding is quite in line with your point that functional modification of human brains is highly nontrivial - a system that is robust to failure in the sense used above is also resistant to any deliberately induced imbalance.

The layman's impression of Williams-Beuren individuals verbal skills doesn't quite hold up to closer linguistic analysis. For example, WBs are prone to make certain syntactical and morphological errors, and cannot pick up a new language faster than everyone else. If exposed to a new language, however, they will quickly pick up some words and try to wrap them around their native syntax, which may amaze bystanders who only superficially know the language in question.

As for Bostrom's "Algernon light" approach to SNP targeting, let me say I'm more concerned about my intellectual ability than about my eventual reproductive success. There could, in principle, be polymorphisms that make you a genius with a craving for a single child.