Transhumanism – reddit

This is the premise of many dystopian plots. Gattaca is probably the most well known movie that presents this theme. The popular consensus is that such a technology would have disasterous effects: a vast lower class would be oppressed by an upper echelon of greed. Wealth inequality would rise dramatically. A form of discrimination more apalling than anything we know about would supersede racism and society would become elitist and authoritarian.

Or maybe not?

Let's forget for a moment that the potential of germline engineering to reduce suffering in humans and non-humans extends beyond intelligence boosts. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the technology does eventually get used to increase the intelligence of a special rich class. What then?

In fact, a technology that increases general intelligence has already been invented. The Flynn Effect refers to the well documented rise in average intelligence in the world during the 20th century, and continuing into the 21st century for some nations. This rise in intellligence was too short for it to be the result of natural selection. Instead, it is generally attributed to better nutrition science and medicine, among other technological advances. Just like in Gattaca, this technology was first introduced to the rich, which allowed them to get ahead of the rest. Only now are the benefits of this widespread phenomenon being shared relatively equally, but even now it is still highly dependent on one's level of income and accident of birth.

If you ask anyone educated in the matter whether it would be better to go back to the time before nutrition science was invented, they would probably look at you funny before promptly saying, "No." Why is that? One could imagine coming up with all sorts of rationalizations that might have looked really good ex ante for resisting nutrition science. If we consider the wealth inequality objection, we might even get a somewhat good case! That is, until you look at the evidence; from Our World In Data:

The available long-run evidence shows that in the past, only a small elite enjoyed living conditions that would not be described as 'extreme poverty' today. But with the onset of industrialization and rising productivity, the share of people living in extreme poverty started to decrease.

Now, to be fair, wealth inequality has been on the rise for the last 50 years. But so has the average living condition. Almost every metric that measures human quality of life has been on the rise. Wealth inequality only measures relative quality of life.

And I don't want to come off as overly pro-technology. Despite the subreddit, I don't believe in separating the world into two forces: nature as evil, and technology as good. It happens that nature is generally bad, and it happens that technology is generally good, but I don't want to be dogmatic. I just see people performing the exact opposite inference, and I find it absurd.

Would genetic engineering really be that bad? Or is this just another instance of the pro-nature, pro-status quo bias? I haven't completely made up my mind, but I'm pretty skeptical of the most alarming claims.

More here:

Transhumanism - reddit

Related Post

Comments are closed.