Re: US bill to ban all forms of human cloning

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 05:28:46 MDT

On Mon, Apr 30, 2001 at 01:53:44AM -0700, Samantha Atkins wrote:
> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > It is also a sign that we need to make more inroads in mainstream
> > thinking. It is not enough for people to have heard of nanotechnology or
> > even know what it is, they better be able to integrate it with an
> > ethical discourse.
> >
> Amen to that. But before they can "integrate it with an ethical
> discourse" we need to do so ourselves. We don't speak often enough
> about the ethics of what we propose or about its implications and how we
> get from here to there.

Amen to that too. I think the main reason we do not have a serious
ethics debate about (say) genetic enhancement is that we do not have a
value system start from. Transhumanism as a whole lacks a strong value
basis; subsets can of course have it. I think that a
humanist-libertarian transhumanism would be a very powerful framework
for an ethical discourse, but then we have to accept that plenty of self
professed transhumanists will disagree strongly with the ethical
foundations of that subset. But it is better to have a few well thought
out transhumanist ethical systems rather than a diffuse anything goes.

> > The exit strategy doesn't work. Where are all the top notch researchers?
> > How many great researchers can you attract with promises of freedom,
> > when they might get prosecuted if they return home, when investors dare
> > not invest because they will be tainted in the media by association with
> > "evil" and possibly even get hit by bills forbidding investing in
> > unethical overseas research? Sure, you will likely get some heroes, but
> > the modern scientific/technological enterprise does not work that way.
> > To get somewhere, we need a lively open scientific discourse, competing
> > labs, investors and the economic power of being part of the global
> > economy.
> >
> I think the exit strategy can work. It has certainly worked at many
> points in history. I don't believe that today is so utterly different
> as to make it totally unworkable.

Any examples involving high tech industries?

> Why not have the researchers and the
> investors and everyone else concerned all move to where they are freest
> to pursue their dreams? Let those who cannot or will not follow stay
> home in the world they vote into existence if it is incompatible with
> the creation of the future.

Why have not George Soros, Bill Gates and leading biotechnologists all
moved to Cayman Islands? Because it would cost them far too much. They
are in a way freest to pursue their dreams in the US, despite all its
repression, because that is where the money, networks and research
institutions are.

> There is a dilemna here. On the one hand freedom from government
> shackles and freedom from the will of the uninformed and partially
> uneducable masses is essential to progress with the work. On the other
> hand the work utterly transforms the lives of everyone. To what extent
> do we have the right and even the obligation to choose for humanity?

We are not choosing for humanity, we are choosing for ourselves and
hence giving others new possible choices. There is no right to be
shielded from new choices. To limit individual freedom of thinking in
the name of the abstraction "humanity" is a great injustice.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 10:00:00 MDT