October 21, 2007

The Countdown Speeds Up

As I mention in my new VDARE.com article, the climactic last two pages of James Watson's new memoir are devoted to how fast the price of genome sequencing is falling, which, as Watson emphasizes, will make inevitable major breakthroughs in understanding the genetic underpinnings of political hot potatoes like IQ. At FuturePundit, Randall Parker provides some numbers.

An article in The Scientist provides a sense of how much DNA sequencing costs have fallen. At the bottom of that page they show 3 costs from 3 different sequencing instruments for doing a sequencing of the Drosophila fly genome. The established ABI 3730 has a sequencing cost for this job of $650,000. The 454 Life Sciences instrument costs $132,000 for the same job. Big cut in cost, right? But if you paid $132,000 you paid too much. Using the Solexa instrument costs $12,500 for the same job. Wow.

Apparently, Moore's Law of semiconductors (a doubling every 18 months) is slow compared to the speed of advances in DNA sequencing.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

9 comments:

dumb-dumb said...

The outcry from people who know that they are wrong will likely increase in direct proportion to the nearness of the proof.

daveg said...

The next question will be how long after that will their be a means to modify your genetics, or that of your offspring, or to introduce supplements or operations that introduce the desired genetic attribute.

Twenty-five years seems like a reasonable estimate.

Anonymous said...

Moore’s law has disseminated the benefits of powerful computing widely with little meaningful time delays between high-end business applications and low-end consumers.

I suspect the applications from therapeutic genetic progress will probably be much more uneven distributed throughout society (within the US and worldwide) expanding the gaps between the haves (elites) and have-less (middle class) which has been the biggest change in recent decades.

The costs of sequencing is not as good metric for genetic therapy affordability and applicability as circuit density or etching width is for computing affordability. There will be a lot more intellectual property costs for both the underlying knowledge and specific medical applications as well as high legal and medical barriers involved (at least in the US).

TH said...

Steve says in his Watson article that after the genetic basis of racial intelligence differences will have been revealed the world will look "[a]n awful lot like the world we live in now". Of course that's true in the short term -- the same groups will continue to succeed and fail the same way as before. But this knowledge will eventually be used to improve the human genome, and it's not unlikely that we'll see a genetic arms race, where different nations and groups compete in producing "better and better" human beings.

Like anonymous says, these technologies will not be equally available to everybody -- the haves will have even more while the have-nots will fall further behind. The transhumanists anticipate that human genetic modification will result in a paradise for all, but I wouldn't be so optimistic. Even Fukuyama understands that history has not ended.

David Davenport said...

If homosexucal tendencies can be detected before a baby is born, the result will be fewer homosexuals.

Farragut said...

I expect that genetic engineering will, like gunpowder, be forbidden practice for a long period, but eventually will be dominant.

I also predict that the first human to be actually cloned will be Marilyn Monroe, if her DNA can be located

Anonymous said...

If homosexucal tendencies can be detected before a baby is born, the result will be fewer homosexuals.

What about when homosexual parents have the ability to choose the tendency of their "child"?

KlaosOldanburg said...

where's the gender countdown at? it seems like some of the fundamental, mission-critical assumptions of feminism have been proven false by biologists.

yet, as larry summers discovered, if anything, it's become more taboo to mention it, much less base public policy on it.

Anonymous said...

If homosexucal (sic) tendencies can be detected before a baby is born, the result will be fewer homosexuals.

What about when homosexual parents have the ability to choose the tendency of their "child"?


Homosexuals are far less likely to have kids than heterosexuals. In fact, many homosexual men despise the little rug rats. Kids are an awfully expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient impediment to looking fabulous and living an indulgent hedonistic lifestyle.

An interesting question would be if enough homosexual (mostly lesbians) couples would have children to maintain the levels of a few percent of the population that homosexuals currently represent (nothing in a traveled and informed life lends credence to the propaganda that 10%+ are gay).

Another interesting question is if these lesbians, who often have strong negative feelings towards men, would genetically select for lesbian kids. This would make gay men virtually extinct as reproductive heteros will want straight kids to produce grandkids.