An Artificial Albert Einstein?
First Man to Have Surgically Enhanced Intelligence
By Henry Nester Uploaded April 29, 2015
The moment I laid eyes on him at my favorite bakery that Tuesday morning, I knew that something was radically changed about Charlie Gordon, a worker at my favorite bakery. As I later learned, he had recently undergone brain surgery to rid him of his mental retardation.
Charlie Gordon, early 30s, resident of a New York City apartment, attends the Beekman College for Retarded Adults, an extension of the University Clinic. Until now, I’ve seen Charlie at the bakery, quietly doing his job well. He has what is called an intellectual disability, meaning that he cannot think on the same level as most, needs constant routine to feel secure, and has difficulty remembering the past.
Until now, I’ve not heard Charlie speak a single full, correct sentence to me, but when the doorbell jingled this morning he greeted me with a cheery “Fantastic morning to you, Henry! How might I assist you today?” Before I could answer, he knew what I would say.
“Alright then, a bagel it is... You’ve got that dreamy look in your eyes, and, most substantially, its a Tuesday, therefore you’ll most likely have some jelly with it. Glancing at the menu behind him, he added, your total is... 3.46” I was speechless, and immediately asked Charlie to take a seat with me for a few questions.
He told me about how he first sought out a school where he could learn. “Alice Kinnian teaches the class at the College for Retarded Adults at Beekman. Not so long ago I had struggled over simple reading and writing and to count change for a dollar,” he told me. He showed an amazing proclivity for learning, but I knew there was something more, especially after he read to me some of his earlier composition for class and laughed at himself for how he used to write.
“Boy, did I have crazy spelling and punctuation,” he related “Dr Strauss and Prof Nemur says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on I dont no why but he says its importint so they will see if they can use me.”
What a change in Charlie from this to what I see today!
I began to be suspicious, however. This writing seemed less like a composition than a progress report as is written by the subject during psychological scientific experiments.
On a hunch, I asked Charlie if he had undergone some type of medical procedure recently.
He blushed and averted his eyes. He told me about how the operation was secret, only the doctors knew, and his teacher who he mentioned earlier.
After thanking Charlie for his time, I headed immediately to Alice Kinnian’s address he had written out for me in neat, intelligent hand to investigate.
At her little apartment, she gave me the details of Charlie’s experiment. The man’s disease was caused by defective enzymes fitting into his neurons and stopping them from properly transmitting data. She compared them to broken keys that fit into locks but don’t turn. The surgery Strauss and Nemur performed fixed the “broken key” enzymes and replaced them with the correct types.
She was extremely proud of Charlie and confident that the surgery would help him, as expressed when she said, “He’s accomplishing in weeks what takes others a lifetime. He’s a giant sponge, soaking in knowledge. Soon he’ll begin to connect things up, and he’ll see how all the worlds of learning are related. All the levels, like steps on a ladder. And he’ll climb higher and higher, seeing more and more of the world around him.”
I asked her if she thought there might be any negative side-effects. A bit upset, she told me what I suspect to be her true opinion of the surgery.
“He’s different. He’s changed. And I’m not talking about his I.Q. It’s his attitude toward people. I mean it. There was something in him before: a warmth, an openness, a kindness, that made everyone like him and to have him around. Now that’s all gone, replaced by cold, heartless intelligence.”
“But surely the positive outweighs the negative?” I wondered aloud to her. At that, she turned her back and politely asked me to leave.
Charlie is the first human being to be administered this surgery after nearly 100 mice and monkeys. He will surely be remembered as the man who paved the way for the extermination of mental retardation.