Monday, April 18, 2005


I've started reading a great new publication called the Journal of Evolution and Technology.

The article by K. Mark Smith entitled Saving Humanity?: Counter-arguing Posthuman Enhancement is a rebuttal to the critiques of human enhancement made by Francis Fukuyama.

Fukuyama opposes human enhancement:
“One obvious way to draw lines is to distinguish between therapy and enhancement, directing research towards the former while putting restrictions on the latter. The original purpose of medicine is after all, to heal the sick, not to turn healthy people into gods. We don’t want star athletes to be hobbled by bad knees or torn ligaments, but we also don’t want them to compete on the basis of who has taken the most steroids. This general principle would allow us to use biotechnologies to, for example, cure genetic diseases like Huntingdon’s chorea or cystic fibrosis, but not to make our children more intelligent or taller.”

I'm not a strong proponent of reproductive enhancement, mostly because I'm not personally interested in reproducing. I do favor technological enhancement, especially of intelligence. Conservatives like Fukuyama aim to obstruct those who seek personal enhancement, personal fulfillment and enlightenment. They propose that we remain imbeciles lest we offend them or their fictitious gods. I find their philosophy both repugnant and illogical.

Fukuyama cites the risk that we may become inherently unequal in ability, and thereby threaten the foundations of liberal democracy. However, liberal democracy does not appear to rely on equality. We don't have equality today. We each possess widely varying levels of skill, intelligence, education, income, experience, empathy and moral clarity. It seems to me that, if anything, liberal democracy feeds equality, not the other way around.

Should we ban education to keep us more equal? Of course not. Lack of access to education is what breeds inequality. Similarly, lack of access to enhancement technology is what will breed inequality in the future.

If we outlaw human enhancement, only outlaws will be enhanced. Which gives me the excuse I need to link to Davros...

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