The Future of Intelligence: The Final Day of the Conference

Yesterday we interviewed Daniel Dennett and Ian Tattersall, here at the Future of Science Conference. Both interviews, I’m happy to say went extremely well and as I mentioned in a post yesterday, they will be available on the Tech Museum’s Understanding Genetics website and through iTunes as a video podcast.

Yesterday, I attended a press lunch in which many of the speakers answered questions. Interestingly, there was an extended discussion on intelligent design and some debate about how to address the issue. Following a statement that intelligent design was a concern primarily for the United States, Denis Duboule a professor of zoology and animal biology at Geneva University warned that it is coming to Europe. There seemed to be a consensus that the scientific community needs to do more address the well organized, and aggressive intelligent design community.

Today I’m hoping to talk to Peter Atkins and Marc Hauser about this issue. Atkins has addressed the issue of creationism in his book, Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science. The first idea addressed in the book is evolution, followed by genetics.
Some interesting thoughts about our future evolution emerged yesterday. Here’s some quotes from today’s press release…

“Our genes profoundly influence how we think and hence how behave,” Luigi Luca Cavalli Sfora, Professor of Human Genetics at Stanford University told attendees during his presentation, “But cultural evolution has now become the driving force of human evolution and will eventually become powerful enough to change our genetic makeup.”

Edoardo Boncinelli, Professor of Biology and Genetics at the Universita Vita-Salute in Milan explained, “the biological evolution of humans is not over, although it is difficult to see where it is heading. If some new human trait evolves it will not be for several thousands of years. In the meantime, humans will probably begin artificially modifying their genome. It will be the first time that a species has reached a stage in its cultural evolution where it can change the course of its biological evolution.”

Today’s topic at the conference is Evolution of Mind: A natural history of culture. There is a live webcast of the conference proceedings in English and Italian.

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