Do you want to be healthier and live longer (do you want immortality)? Do you want to be smarter and remember more? Do you want to feel happier and more optimistic? Do you want to be able to communicate telepathically with other people or with your computer? Do you want to be more physically attractive? Do you want more spiritual satisfaction? Do you want more intellectual satisfaction? Dp you want to feel more apart of your community? Do you want to coordinate better with colleagues? Do you want these things for your kids/friends/community/country/world?
I know I do (according to my definition of all these things). More specifically, I want to be able to choose freelywhich technologies I accept and reject. However we live in a world in which:
- People transmit biota (viruses/bacteria) to each other unintentionally so as people adopt various technologies to accomplish the above, I have to wonder about what organisms are being created, how they mutate and whether they are contagious. Suppose someone infects themselves with a mood-changing virus…
- Democratic governments feel entitled to vaccinate people to protect them from various diseases. I don’t want Patriot Act 2015 to include a rule requiring everyone to be vaccinated against the risk they will engage in sociopathic behavior (e.g. Columbine or suicide bombings). That puts the government on the track of pushing all sorts of public safety “enhancements.” Brave New World, here we come? Note: Already we are seeing schools where kids that fail to take Ritalin are punished (just for being “natural”).
- People really hate people who don’t go with the group. They are hostile to people of different religions, political persuasions, skin color, lifestyle etc. How much social pressure will there be to go along with whatever modification the group chooses?
- We have a political system that relies on some clear definition of human/non-human. Technologies that blur this distinction put our political system and social institutions at risk. Perhaps you believe that a fetus is a person or perhaps not. How do you feel about an anencephalic baby? What are the rights of a clone that I created just to use for spare parts? What are the rights of an intelligent machine to which I have copied/downloaded my brain state? Can it vote? How do you feel about requiring an IQ test in order to vote? Can I produce lots of copies of myself to vote during an election that then all die the next day?
- We currently believe in individual “free-will.” Technologies that allow modification of preferences make the definition of free-will less clear. People who run Microsoft Windows are more likely to run Microsoft Office. Are there substantive differences betweeen viruses, viral marketing, and viral memes?
- We currently think our thoughts are private. The technologies that allow telepathy will also allow a third party to watch what is happening in our brains from a distance. Do you want to be required to wear a special hat to protect you from this invasion of your privacy?
The problem with all of these enhancement technologies is that they rapidly make our whole social structure obsolete. Unless we have working alternatives, we may not like the net result of losing the definition of “human.”
Note: There may not be a choice here. We just need to start planning now.