RE: "Sound and Fury" over enhancements

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (
Date: Wed Jan 09 2002 - 13:51:27 MST

How much control should parents have over their children?

Ooops, I just received Brian Williams' post with the Khalil Gibran quote,
and I feel I have almost nothing more to say.

Still, let me try to elaborate a little bit on this subject.
Children are not their parents' chattels, to be molded into their parents'
ideal image. An ethically correct approach to the autonomy of children might
involve using the following test: An action is ethically superior if the
child sees it as such once he/she becomes an adult. In other words, the
child's hypothetical hindsight should guide our actions, as long as we do
not undertake direct neural manipulations of the goal-seeking mechanisms in
the child's mind (in that case other issues become important).

Since we do not have the ability to predict any particular subject's future
attitudes, we have to use statistical data. Whatever the majority of humans
would see as beneficial if applied to them when they imagine themselves in
the child's place, is the practical standard for action. This standard might
need to be modified to take into consideration the effects of differential
cognitive abilities.

I would venture that the majority of humans would consider having adequate
hearing as desirable, clearly better than the alternative. Therefore, such
implants should be placed as a matter of policy. While refusal to have a
cochlear implant placed in their child might not be enough to merit the
charge of child abuse and legal action, the parents should be made aware
that the child might have the right to bring charges against them at
maturity, and that they will be liable for any financial losses suffered by
the child, or by the state on behalf of the child (remedial education,
possibly unemployment benefits).

BTW, as for the risk of IQ-enhanced children becoming socialists, I doubt it
- I remember being a socialist at age 10. In the decades since then my IQ
declined only minimally, yet I am about as far from being a socialist as you
can be and still remain a decent person. AFAIK, high IQ is somewhat
correlated with the absence of certain attitudes, e.g. fascism,
authoritarianism, extreme selfishness, but socialism, at least in the
classical sense, is not prevalent among smart people anymore.


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