What if “RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES” really happened? How fast can an AK-47 be learned?

In the new version of “Planet of the Apes,” we get an explanation for how our evolutionary predecessors gained human intelligence with an origin story that has a scientific basis: James Franco’s character, while conducting Alzheimer’s research, tests out a gene therapy on an ape that amplifies the creature’s mental capacity and makes it, in a sense, human.

Few researchers believe that apes are going to gain the ability to speak or to, say, organize resistance against humans any time soon. But a recent report in the journal Nature questioned whether experiments that insert human DNA into the genomes of primates still in the embryo stage could lead the primates, once they develop, to "appreciate the ways their lives are circumscribed, and to suffer, albeit immeasurably."

Could it really happen? Probably not any time soon, but there are elements of the premise –– namely, of humans endowing animals with some human characteristics in the name of medical science — that reflect current developments in scientific research.

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