Uplift – the genetics of cognition

A number of science fiction writers (David Brin being probably the best known of them) have written about the idea of ‘uplift‘ – sub-sentient animals raised to human (or even higher) levels of cognition by scientific means; the transhumanist movement is quite fond of it as a conceptual meme too. Which means science fiction and transhumanism can have a day of feeling vindicated; via Peter Watts, a science fiction author whose science qualifications are more than impeccable, comes the news that a team of Chinese scientists have not only discovered the gene that triggers production of a chemical intrinsic to human cognition, but managed to splice it into chimpanzees and observe the protein in question being produced. Or, in layman’s terms, we may have found a way to create chimps with human intelligence, which may throw an interesting light on Hiasl’s human rights case.