General intelligence vs. genetic memory/ideas

So here’s an interesting thought. Let’s pretend that gene tampering is possible, either through cultural norms and nurture or very precise epigenetic engineering and editing, and let’s also observe that most parts of the brain develop according to very particular genetic blueprints.

In the course of ordinary development in an ordinary environment, most right-handed people with have the “right hand controller” part of the brain in roughly the same place. Similarly, whether our parents push us to walk, or we learn it ourselves by imitation, we all eventually get up and walk and it feels like the right thing to do. This is normal development.

Why shouldn’t it be possible to pass on specific forms of intelligence to our offspring?

The book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden. The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already.


I believe some of us are born with the predisposition toward activities and ideas other than walking, so that we pick them up very easily if they are taught to us during the correct development period. Thals tend to pick up a lot of paradigms in their early adolescence (late teens to early 20s), and this is why the term “concept porn” exists.

Because this is a fairly obvious idea in retrospect, for some of us, I think we could consider it a sort of birthright. It was an idea for which we already had a blueprint, and then someone (like myself) came along and prompted us to form the neuron pathways which are the concrete representation of the idea. This feels healthy and natural because it’s like learning to walk.

General intelligence would be much more “general” in the sense of sheer neuroplasticity- the ability to pick up any weirdo idea that a strange environment pushes on us, whether it would have eventually developed on its own or not. So rather than walking, imagine someone who learns to move around in low gravity very gracefully. This is a completely different idea from anything in their genetic blueprint, so the brain has to adapt and write new neural pathways that would not have developed in any other environment.

But if someone were (hypothetically) born in zero g, they will still have the idea of walking in their genetic blueprint if they ever visited earth. So take a child born in zero g, put them in gravity, and they’re eventually going to try to walk (with bad results if their bones aren’t dense enough).

This raises yet another interesting idea, which is that general intelligence/neuroplasticity might write something that impedes the development of something else by taking up the natural idea’s real estate. Maybe the person born in zero gravity learned to move in zero g, and the brain wrote that neural pathway in the spot that was supposed to be used for walking. Such a person would be literally retarded in learning to walk, and would have to apply general intelligence to the problem (you can see this in physical therapy, when people are re-learning the ability to walk they tend to “talk themselves through the process”).

This would also cause a lot of unexpected weirdness, as in people with phantom limbs who re-map the sensations of their faces to the phantom limbs. For example, when you touch an amputee’s cheek they might think you’re touching their elbow, which no longer exists.

Anyway, I’m out of time. For now, I’ll end with the intriguing thought that melons seem to be white matter-dominant, and grew conical skulls to accomodate this cognitive style, which according to this theory suggests that they were genetically engineering their intelligence in some way.

About Aeoli Pera

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2 Responses to General intelligence vs. genetic memory/ideas

  1. Pingback: On self-preservation | Aeoli Pera

  2. Pingback: Theory of general intelligence | Aeoli Pera

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