Idiocracy in America? Probably not

Anatoly Karlin’s article A Short History of the Third Millennium went massively viral, being read by thousands and getting almost 200 comments. Online, especially, there is considerable interest in ‘weird’, speculative topics such as futurology and existentialism, and these are issues that may have dramatic ramifications for the future of humanity: is radical life extension possible? How about whole brain emulation? Or creating super-human intelligence through gene modification and embryo selection? Will artificial intelligence render all jobs obsolete, or possibly even threaten to enslave us? Will humanity see the singularity and the transition to a type-1 and beyond civilization, or will it kill itself first? Are we destined for greatness or doomed to perish under a dysgenic dystopia?

Human genetic editing is banned by government edict around the world, to “protect human dignity” in the religious countries and “prevent inequality” in the religiously progressive ones. The 1% predictably flout these regulations at will, improving their progeny while keeping the rest of the human biomass down where they believe it belongs, but the elites do not have the demographic weight to compensate for plummeting average IQs as dysgenics decisively overtakes the FLynn Effect.

The good news is, historically, the trend has been towards towards the expanded use and adoption of new technologies, not restrictions. It cost $3 billion and over a decade just to sequence the human genome, let alone do much with it. It doesn’t make any economic sense for companies to spend so much money and time developing technologies, only to intentionally restrict the usage of such technologies to only an ‘elite’. By making technology readily available, it lowers costs and spurs further innovation. Now it only costs $1,000 to sequence a human genome.

It’s like the belief that elites have secret cancer cures that they are keeping themselves. Again, this is bad economics considering that there is huge demand (millions of people get cancer) and cancer drugs cost hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars to develop, creating an economic need to make these treatments available to as many people as possible, in order to recoup the costs. In a free market economy, if a company or entity were to a hoard a technology, another entity will eventually develop a cheaper and better version and make it available to more people, likely putting the first entity out of business.

An obvious counter-example are sports cars and private planes, which are still only available to elites. This is because the technology doesn’t exist to make private planes as cheap as a Honda. Another factor is branding, which is why Nike shoes and Rolex watches are so expensive even though their underlying technologies are not revolutionary. The reason why cancer treatments, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, are made available regardless of ability to pay is because the government has deemed it a ‘public good’. It’s possible genomic modification will become another luxury item and not a pubic good. It’s possible offshore embryo modification labs will be created for ultra-high-worth clientele who want their children to be endowed with traits that auger well for socioeconomic success, such as having a high IQ.

FLynn effect of environmental IQ increases is petering out across the world, especially in the high IQ nations responsible for most technological progress in the first place (Dutton, Van Der Linden, & Lynn, 2016). In the longterm “business as usual” scenario, this will result in an Idiocracy incapable of any further technological progress and at permanent risk of a Malthusian population crash should average IQ fall below the level necessary to sustain technological civilization.

However, even if current trends persist, the movie Idiocracy becoming reality is unlikely, as I discus in more detail here.

Even if the FLynn effect is tapering off, that doesn’t mean it will reverse. Anther possibility is that early gains in IQ are attributable to environment, and now that essentials such as food, shelter, sanitation, clean water, electricity, and literacy are much more common, the ‘low hanging’ fruit has been picked, putting more precedence on genetic factors, which are much slower to evolve than environmental ones, which is why it may seem like the FLynn effect is reversing.

For global IQs to keep falling without a bottom, there has to be some sort of environmental selection pressure to favor increasingly low IQs.

Just as the human population rose tenfold from 1 billion in 1800 to 10 billion by 2100, so it will rise by yet another order of magnitude in the next two or three centuries. But this demographic expansion is highly dysgenic, so global average IQ falls by a standard deviation and technology stagnates.

Even if this happens, the growing world population will mean more total smart people, which seems to be the case right now. Russia, Europe, and East and South Asia have billions of people and produce thousands, if not millions, of geniuses each year by virtue of the normal distribution of IQs. Even populations with a mean IQ of less than 100 still produce geniuses. Furthermore, smart people are more likely to procreate with other smart people (assortative mating), resulting in ‘enclaves’ of high-IQ, even as the rest off the world regresses.

The best and brightest from all over the world flock to America’s most prestigious universities and companies, which is why I’m skeptical of the America ‘Idiocracy’ scenario. As further evidence against ‘dumbing-down’, the number of research publications on Arxiv, a pre-print repository that specializes in physics and math papers, has surged in recent years. There is also no evidence yet of technological stagnation either (for example, genome sequencing is becoming cheaper). Like a fantasy sports team that gets the best players from all the teams, America is getting the best and brightest from all over the world. This is a major reason why the US economy has proven so resilient and strong in recent years whereas other economies have struggled with falling currencies, high inflation, falling stock markets, corruption, and slow growth. It’s a testament to these smart people that America is as functional as it is given all the forces of decay by leftism.

What matters most, however, are the total number of genetically ‘smart people’, not the proportion of smart people relative to the overall population size. Similar to how only a single human can oversee an entire ant colony, you don’t need many smart people to manage large populations.

By ‘genetically smart’, I mean people who have non-adjusted IQs above 130 or so. If the world were to become less intelligent, IQ tests would be adjusted to be easier, in order to keep the ‘mean’ IQ score still at 100. A century from now, an IQ of 130 may only be the same as a score of 115 today. But it’s still possible to have many people with biological IQs still at 130.

As the world population swells, it’s imperative that the population of smart people at least remain constant and undiluted. As far as America is concerned, the obvious answer is eugenics and restricting immigration by IQ and country, to keep such enclaves from becoming contaminated. Silicon Valley, perhaps the greatest IQ enclave ever, needs to be made aware of the threat of low-IQs to it homogeneity and stability. But if not for the sake of boosting IQ, we need restrictions for the sake of preserving civilization and civility against the hordes that threaten it, for without civilization, high IQ is useless.

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