Rafi Amin


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Why infants can not inherit knowledge from their parents ?

I had this question in my mind for quiet some time until the question looked logical & I,m asking now.

When babies come to this world they inherit lots of things from their parent like, physical appearance (face, eyes, hair, height )& for some even behaviors but not knowledge.

My question is why ? Is there something Secret behind it ?

What do you think how fast would humanity be advancing if this is made possible ?

Thank you.

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    Jun 13 2012: I assume you intend human infants. The answer to your question is that humans are not pre-programmed. The designer of Homo Sapiens provided only two instincts: take nourishment (suck), and continue to live (self-preservation). Beyond that Man is designed to Observe his Universe and Live appropriately. How strange that having the benefit of free-will would lead to the desire to not have free-will. Would anyone really prefer to be a robot, never able to know its Maker? Thank you, Mr. Amin.
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      Jun 13 2012: Good point edward!

      Yes, having all that information "pre-programmed" would rob every generation of their "free-wills".

      Ps: my quotations represent edwards' words. =)
  • Jun 14 2012: Even if existing neural patterns could be passed down from one generation to the the next, the brain is still a finite space.

    You do not have the capacity to store an infinite amount of information.

    The more you fill an infants head with information from the last generations, the less space you have for information relevant to an environment which has changed since it's parents time.

    Maybe one day we'll have technology which allows us to interface digital information storage with the brains processes but given the complex, dynamic and integrated nature of information storage and processing in the brain, an interface would be extremely difficult to construct.

    My guess is that such an interface would probably require reprogramming our genetics such that the brain automatically builds a "port" as it grows for us to use as an interface to digital devices. Such a manipulation of genetics would require a vastly more sophisticated understanding of both how the brain works and how genetics dictates the brain's structure and tools for manipulating genetics which do not currently exist.

    If in the next x number of thousands of years we actually get to that point, we could see a very direct and deliberate transmission of information and knowledge from generation to generation.

    The comparatively crude and primitive method of accomplishing the same objective currently is written and spoken language. We're not going to escape that paradigm any time soon.
    • Jun 14 2012: About the finite storage space in the brain, the solution to that is pretty straight forward: ever forget where you put your car keys? or the remote? forgetfulness could be the way to _selectively_ remember only some things - and only pass on those items of knowledge.

      The above would also allow for a certain variance in knowledge, akin to what we have now... but only after having reached the limit case of brain saturation. That calls to mind the question of where "new" ideas come from and/or are stored: Does a "full" brain have room to generate new ideas?

      Regarding the digital recording and [especially] the bio-technical link between man and machine: Be careful what you wish for / dream about... Pandora's Box didn't contain just "happy stuff"...
      • Jun 15 2012: The brain does seem to be good at prioritizing the importance of information most of the time and that could be a way to solve the storage issue. I would get into the other issues surrounding the concept of inherited knowledge but I think other people in this conversation have covered most of those pretty well.

        IMO the topic can be summed up with three points;

        It's not possible because that's not how genetics works.

        If it was somehow possible there would potentially be significant drawbacks.

        While there would be potential drawbacks, the potential benefit is also quite significant. The vision of the OP is an understandable one. When someone like Einstein dies, a lot of knowledge is lost with him despite what he might have written and taught in his time.

        In regard to my future prediction, I agree with you, it is a Pandora's box but that is something that is being opened every day with every invention and innovation that we create. We are going to create a lot of technologies which have a lot of potential for abuse over the next few centuries, I have no doubt about that.

        If we're lucky, we won't destroy ourselves in the process.
  • Jun 14 2012: If humans were born with all of the knowledge that their parent's had gained the world would definitely suffer from it. Just think, if people were born with the knowledge necessary to get along in the world. What would give them the incentive to improve their knowledge base? The concept that we don't already know everything is essential to why people strive for knowledge.
    If you were born with all of the knowledge of your parents, the potential for slipping backward of society is reduced, but the potential for advancement is also reduced. If you aren't told that "knowledge is power" and that you need to learn in order to make improvements in your life (which you can eventually communicate for the good of others), there is no way to explore the unfamiliar. People have a right to form an opinion on all subjects, not necessarily based on their parent's opinion. Now, it is tough to make the argument for "human rights" if this were supposedly the nature of our race. But the fact that curiosity drives our quest for knowledge is paramount.
    If, somehow, the quest for knowledge were not deterred by the inheritance of knowledge, we would still face major problems in scientific discovery. Wouldn't this hinder people's ability to think differently, to question what we think we know? Education exists to make people think critically about situations. Besides, parent's are not always the people in our lives whose idea's we want to accept unquestioningly. There is built in room for improvement in the human race, and our curiosity is what drives this upward momentum. The people whose parent's were not perfect role models would spiral down and ultimately fail to achieve the ultimate goal, which is not the attainment of truth, but the unending search for it.
    I can't really explain any further, but does anyone else see why children who gained their parent's knowledge would be at a disadvantage, because "no one is perfect?" This is all just one man's humble opinion.
  • Jun 13 2012: Some of the following is factual, and some is my own opinion, drawn from other facts:

    Think of the brain as a neural net - neurons that are connected and processing together, etc.. If you break down what a neuron is, in terms of chemical composition and DNA, you can reason out that the DNA portion of it is passed on from a baby's parents. In a sense, the parents DO pass down knowledge-related attributes. That is to say: Parents pass down the _potential_ for knowledge.

    That's about all which can be passed down. After that, the baby's brain (neural net) takes off of its own accord, based on environmental stimuli. A person's - let's call them 'predilections' - towards given topics/concepts/actions can be considered to belong to the 'base state' of the neural net, as defined by the synthesized DNA of the two parents. There is also likely to be found some predilections all people have, either due to common DNA sequences or the chemical composition of neurons. This aspect seems to be programming, but the beauty of the brain is its ability to "re-wire" itself to accommodate and in response to new stimuli. In some cases, these stimuli cause the brain to change, structurally (we can measure these changes now). This is very much part of what makes every individual unique: Predilections + Environment.

    The "Nature vs. Nurture" argument ignores the obvious synthesis of both which we do every day of our lives - I wholly reject that viewpoint (if you couldn't tell).

    Moving on to your advancement question:
    Knowledge is contained within the structure of the brain. To pass on this knowledge would be to pass on the structure that contains it: 0 uniqueness.

    With the lack of uniqueness comes stagnation. No original ideas. Nothing new. We'd still be swinging from trees w/o this ability to synthesize new knowledge in the form of individuals' brains.

    Learning and Uniqueness are what cause advancement. We couldn't advance w/o them.
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      Jun 14 2012: Hi, Thank you for all these information. Your points are very unique here.
  • Jun 13 2012: At one point the saturation limit reaches which the next generation cannot tolerate.
    Even now infants get lots of knowledge from parents, but not biologically.
    Coming to your question, how fast humanity would be advancing if its made possible.
    I think the current situation is much better, where a human brain can gather knowledge from everything in the universe which is present now or earlier.
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    Jun 13 2012: Thanks to edward, I have a new perspective on this subject.

    I can understand what you hope for by having information inherited, but with that knowledge inherited it would definitely remove a lot of individuality in this world. Life would cease to seem like the individual had control of themselves, but it is just my opinion.

    I don't like robots because they will make the world dull and fine-tuned individuals' that only have a small amount of directions for their own lives due to their "pre-programmed" knowledge.
    • Jun 14 2012: I like robot's and I wouldn't mind being cybernetic, so long as I was not pre-programmed by anyone else. If we could personally accept or reject the information wouldn't that be sort of like it is now, but without memory lapses, or lapses in judgement, or even forget what you are saying? Individuality may not be over-rated, but mistakes most definitely are not.
  • Jun 13 2012: Rafi,
    Would baby inherited knowledge actually advance humanity? How would humans advance? Parents cannot pass on to the future what parents do not know and therefore we need adventure, curiosity, and educational efforts by all generations to advance knowledge. Would you suggest taking these adventures away from future generations?

    It seems to me that tenderness of parents in teaching children is vital so that children gain a respect for authority. So much more is gained by parents relating well with children as they grow and use their curiosity to discover on their own. Would parent-child relationships suffer if all parental knowledge were inherited and their teachings opportunities were reduced?

    It seems to me that character is enhanced when a child puts forth sincere effort to learn and to piece together a personal character and a strong, brave personality.

    So, with your question considered fully, what do you see if children inherited knowledge? Would this knowledge be for the more educated elite of societies? What of the child born of ignorant parents?

    What other benefits can others think of for a child when taught well by parents and schooling?

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      Jun 13 2012: Dear Mark,

      Thanks for your thoughts here.

      Quote :How would humans advance?

      By advancing here I mean to improve knowledge from point where parents transferred to kid not like now where child has to start again from basics. I hope I have been able to explain clearly here.

      Another thing that made me ask this question was that, when a person dies lots of knowledge also dies, unless somebody has left his thought in the form of a book or what so ever which is very rare.
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        Jun 13 2012: Hi Rafi,

        It is true that when someone dies some of their ideas might die, but I find that the connections that they have made throughout their life, even after they pass away, will embody other individuals. What I am trying to say is that ideas/knowledge will live on through the people in the deceased persons' life. I believe that every story inspires something, and death won't automatically erase that inspiration from another persons mind.

        Thanks for reading my thoughts.
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          Jun 14 2012: Thank you Derek. This is useful information.
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    Jun 20 2012: The babies need not inherit your knowledge as they come pre loaded with infinite intelligence at their disposal. Its up to your baby to uncover the infinite intelligence.
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    Jun 14 2012: So far my understanding goes, acquired traits don't bring any change in genetic makeup so it does not pass generation to generation...........it's not only about knowledge other skill as well.....say kid of great player of any game does not automatically become another great player....

    Gene mutation mostly environment depended or happens due to random accident .....acquired traits yet to be proven to have any impact on mutition......that's what I know so far.....anyone expert in the field of genetics can shed more light.