Re: Contributing to Society [was Re: Premature deaths [was: extropians-digest V7 #4]]

From: Kai Becker (
Date: Mon Jan 07 2002 - 13:26:16 MST

Am Montag, 7. Januar 2002 15:20 schrieb Robert J. Bradbury:
> Ok, lets for the sake of the discussion assume every human
> is granted the fundamental human rights outlined in the U.N.
> treaty on human rights.

Every human being _is_ granted these rights. That's what the declaration
says. Unfortunately, too many people manage to deprive others of their
rights without being held responsible.

> Its a fundamental question -- when do "fundamental" human rights
> trump property rights? One almost has to laugh at Fukuyama arguing
> for human "dignity" and preventing human cloning when 20 million
> people a year die of hunger and starvation. Or probably more
> who will die from HIV infections. Lets address the *real* problems.

The problems you mention are mostly questions of fair distribution of
existing material. "We" (meaning all humans) can easily produce enough food
and vaccine to prevent the death of the over 40,000 children per day for
example. But there's is not enough monetary profit in it. We could easily
provide enough teachers to eradicate illiteracy. But the ROI would come in
a decade or so. Too long to explain this to shareholders. And the 1st world
would long have a real cure for HIV/AIDS, if the possible profit would be
big enough (compared to the profit they currently make) and/or their own
survival would be at stake.

> *Or* will society become stale and lethargic when people are no
> longer motivated by the needs of survival?

*thinking of our decadent 1st world* yepp. At least most of us. From my
POV, the "race to the moon" was the last project that really motivated
millions, because the success had been coupled with political survival,
while the practical use of it (for the average citizen) was almost zero.

A new project like that could give this planet a real boost, but I have no
idea what it could be. In our present situation, the first questions are
always "what personal profit do I get from it?", "how much does it cost?
(what do I have to sacrifice for it)" and "is it safe?".


    == Kai M. Becker == == Bremen, Germany ==
  "Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced"

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