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By 1 January 2050, will it be possible to increase a healthy adult human's IQ by at least two standard deviations in less than 30 days?

Arguably the most important single difference between humans and all other life is the degree to which human intelligence allows for radically more complex forms of socialization, cooperation, activity and achievement. No other species in the universe (to our knowledge) has created the kind of complex civilization that humans have created, or anything close to it, and this is due to the large advantage that humans have acquired in intelligence.

The most widely-accepted tool for measuring human intelligence is the IQ test. The population average is fixed arbitrarily at 100, and the results of a population fit a Gaussian probability distribution, also known as a bell curve. Approximately two-thirds of the population score between one standard deviation below the mean and one standard deviation above the mean. About 2.5% of the population scores at or above two standard deviations above the mean, and 2.5% scores at or below two standard deviations below the mean. The difference in ability this represents is large. A person with an IQ two standard deviations below the mean is considered to have less than a 50% chance of graduating from high school, whereas a person with an IQ two standard deviations above the mean has a slightly higher IQ than the average holder of a Juris Doctor degree (an IQ of 126).

Psychometricians generally regard IQ tests as having high statistical reliability and predictive validity.

A high statistical reliability implies that although test-takers may have varying scores when taking the same test on differing occasions, and although they may have varying scores when taking different IQ tests at the same age, the scores generally agree with one another and across time.

A high predictive validity implies that the results of the test provide you useful insights into the test-taker, and IQ scores are significantly correlated with a number of important life outcomes including job performance, academic achievement, likelihood of being out of the labor force more than one month out of the year, and many others. More information is available here.

Because of the importance of human intelligence, it would arguably be highly valuable both to individuals and to humanity if it were possible to meaningfully increase it through some kind of intervention, whether medical, technological or otherwise.

Before 1 January 2050, will it be demonstrated to be possible through any kind of intervention to increase the intelligence of a physically and mentally healthy adult human below the age of 65, with an IQ no lower than one standard deviation below the United States population mean, by at least two standard deviations above their initial mean score?

This mean score is to be generated from three standardized IQ tests taken by a reliable test-taker giving their best effort using either the Raven's Progressive Matrices test or a similar non-verbal culture-fair test, with the post-intervention scores generated by the same method, and with the tests before and after intervention supervised and the results validated by at least three suitably qualified psychometricians independent of the persons or group responsible for the attempt.

Furthermore, the test-taker must be independent of the group or individual responsible for developing or carrying out the attempt, and the test-taker must not be a professional psychometrician, professional quizzer, or have ever been involved in the design of intelligence or other psychometric tests.

The final test score must be obtained within 30 days of the commencement of whatever intervention is utilized in the attempt to increase the test-taker's score (in order to minimize the possibility of an individual achieving such a large score increase through extensive training and practice).

Finally, the mean score for the test subject cannot initially be 2.5 standard deviations above the mean or higher, as it is unclear how reliable the IQ test is for scores above the +4.5 sigma range (i.e. after a 2 standard deviation increase on a 15 SD scale), given that these scores are exceptionally rare.

This resolves positively if by 1 January 2050,

  • 30 healthy adult humans under the age of 65 have their IQ scores increased by at least two standard deviations in less than 30 days, relative to their previous mean score generated from 3 separate tests, or

  • 100 healthy adult humans under the age of 65 have their IQ scores increased by at least two standard deviations in less than 30 days, relative to their previous mean score generated from 2 separate tests, or

  • 200 healthy adult humans under the age of 65 have their IQ scores increased by at least two standard deviations in less than 30 days, relative to their previous mean score generated from 1 separate test.

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