Re: "Sound and Fury" over enhancements

Date: Wed Jan 09 2002 - 12:11:23 MST

Rather than sit back and point fingers of scorn at the deaf community from
our superior position, as Mike seems to be doing, I was hoping that we
could see this conflict as a precursor to the greater battles ahead.

Recall Clarke's novel Childhood's End. Suddenly all children begin to be
born with tremendous mental powers, able to manipulate matter at will,
communicate with others and form into a global and in fact galactic
super-mind. But their parents are utterly unable to communicate with
them at all. From their parents' perspective, their children are lost.
They may take intellectual comfort in knowing that their children have
achieved greatness beyond imagining. But it is cold comfort because
the changes are so great that the children are practically non-human.
In effect the children have become aliens, and all connection to the
parents is lost.

Who can doubt that if the parents' consent had been needed for this
change, few would have agreed to go along? How many of us would turn our
children into aliens, separate and forever apart from us, simply in the
intellectual belief that they would be achieving greater powers? Well,
hopefully among Extropians we would be willing to consider doing so.
But those of us who have actually raised children will appreciate how
difficult it would be to take this leap of faith.

For Mike and his fellow conservative ideologues, consider an intelligence
enhancement for your children which has an observed side effect: almost
all of them become Socialists. Quel horreur! It's not implausible: in
fact in many of the most difficult and esoteric branches of science and
mathematics, branches which require the highest levels of sheer abstract
intelligence to thrive, Socialism and allied political philosophies
are widespread. I remember reading an obituary in The Mathematical
Intelligencer which went to some length to apologize for the fact that
the deceased was not a Socialist. He was still a decent guy, the obit
hastened to explain, he just had this one little political blind spot.

So you can make your kid a genius, but it will take him from the political
philosophy you have embraced all your life. He will have nothing but
contempt for your political views. He will be lost to your political
culture. Yet you will be giving him great powers for advancement and
achievement in life.

In this situation, is it so easy to see that enhancing your child is
automatically the right thing to do? How do you like MIKE'S PROPOSAL
that society FORCE you to enhance the child?

Hopefully as Extropians we have the courage and the faith to give our
children these advantages even at cost to ourselves and our link to them.
But clearly for most people this will be an even more difficult decision.
If transhuman technologies are most easily applied to children, which
is plausible due to their greater neural plasticity (which is why the
cochlear implants only work on them), then we may all find ourselves in
the position of the deaf for whom Mike shows such scorn.


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