Are enhancements really at risk?

Damien R. Sullivan (
Sun, 22 Feb 1998 17:11:07 -0800 (PST)

On Feb 21, 9:38pm, Michael Lee Bowling wrote:

> What we probably will need is a safe haven where we can perform
> physical/mental enhancements etc. without state interference. How about
> just a large biomedical facility dedicated to transhuman augmentations?

What's the evidence that enhancements are likely to be suppressed? Many
people seem to assume that anything useful but weird will be attacked
and banned. They're probably right on the attack, but banned?
Possibly, but can it be said to be certain.

What enhancements are banned now? A problem seems to be that there
aren't all that many genuine enhancements. There are a bunch of drugs
which make the user happy; while I don't agree with the war on drugs,
and want to see legalization, most of them are in fact addictive, AFAIK.
The most useful seem to be caffeine, which is legal, and marijuana,
which causes frothing insanity in prohibitionists. I posit that if MJ
was legal now it would remain so, and that the pressure on it comes from
it having become illegal in the past and a perception that if it is
rescured other drugs might be as well. "No surrender, no retreat." How
practically useful MJ is to people not suffering certain types of severe
pain is scientifically unclear at the moment.

The usefulness and dangers of LSD and peyote I'm not sure about.
Certainly they don't seem useful in a normal economic sense. Even if
they're safe, possibly the war on drugs is, as above, as much about
protecting a current fief as about a generic desire to ban odd things.

In vitro fertilization and surrogate pregnancy caused great horror and
religious outcry, but are useful and legal. I suspect genetic testing
will not be touched. Gene research has trouble in Germany but they live
under the Nazi shadow. (An argument against Euro-unification, similar to
Diamond's thesis of why Europe eventually surpassed China: multiple
countries make it harder to stupidly ban something.) Genetic engineering
may go under the ban, but at the moment I think any attempts to modify a
human embryo would involve a good deal of risk to the resulting human;
our knowledge is not that great. Whether parents should have the right
to take such risks with their children is debatable. The growth of full
clones seems likely to be made illegal, which I can't justify with any
sophisty I take seriously; on the other hand, I can't get that excited
over it either. The technical cloning of growing cell lines or new
organs from an adult, which would be very useful, seems to have a fair
chance of surviving, if it ever actually happens.

Steroids are clearly useful and clearly risky, AFAIK. Their prohibition
in sports is just part of the rules of the game. Their general
prohibition is part of state maternalism; again, I don't like it, but
they do have a point, and I'm not dying to take the things. My point,
if it isn't clear by now, is that I see no reason to assume that
economically useful and fairly safe enhancements will be banned.
It violates sense, and has little precedent. New but useful
technologies have survived; banned things are in the large genuinely
dangerous, for all that I feel individuals should be allowed to take
their own risks.


[AFAIK: As far as I know]

-xx- ROU Bibliovore X-)

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