Re: Gene Therapy & Ethics (fwd)

Robert J. Bradbury (
Sat, 14 Aug 1999 10:35:35 -0700 (PDT)

> Technotranscendence <> wrote:

> To this point, can't one be "normal" and be happy and successful?

Absolutely. But I would assume that by "normal", you mean approximately the mid-point of the bell curve at any point in time. Humans have been getting smarter over the last 100+ years (for reasons that remain unclear to my knowledge; one could argue everything from nutrition to failures of IQ testing methodology). If everyone else "improves", you go from being normal to distinctly unnormal.

Happiness is entirely a state of mind, and can probably be controlled internally. Success on the other hand is judged by both onself and ones friends, associates & society. Though the roots of the perception of success probably are based in qualities that promote fitness and reproductive success, they have become somewhat distorted in the current society. [If a man chooses to have a vasectomy before he has children is he viewed as "less successful"?]

> I don't see a dichotomy here between having the same degree of whatever
> as millions of others and being happy and successful.

I'm not interested in whether you are happy or successful. I hope you are both. What I'm interested in (as you point out), is whether or not you "survive".

> > We may presume that nature has "fine-tuned" human traits
> > to balance "competitive drives" with "social conformance".

> Why may this be presumed? See "Testing Evolutionary Explanations" at

I'll read this, but testing things from an evolutionary framework and dealing with the dynamics of individual and group selection is *very* tricky.

I'll argue it from the perspective of "extremes" in "tribal" settings. If you get genes that make you hyper-agressive, you will become feared by the other tribe members who will band together to kill or deport you (this hurts your reproductive success). If you are too socially conforming and always defer to other's interests, you will end up with the poorest mates (also hurting your reproductive success). In tribal settings, the reproductive pressures will push towards the middle by eliminating genes that promote either extreme aggression or extreme passivity.

> I don't see the necessity of competition here. Surely, it might happen,
> though there is a lot of competition between members in the same generation
> (in humans) and the same species (both in humans and other species).

I always return to the resource limits problem. We get to the singularity, some remain behind, some upload. What process/who decides the partitioning of the leftovers on Earth and/or the allocation of M-brain resources? Sure, we all have trillions of times the resources we currently have but that assumes that we don't expand our resource utilization abilities. That remains fairly true if you choose to stay pre-ultra-human. However ultra-humans (at least some of them) presumably expand their minds as fast as the capacity for them expands. Because of the exponential growth, the guy who starts first (and manages to survive on Version 0.01 of the software he is running on) ends up with the gold ring. So he allocates him/herself 10^20 processors and allocates every other individual ~10^9 processors. You may be happy, you will be successful (because you can program the reality to look any way you want it to look), but you *will* be dirt. I can only think of 2 solutions:
(a) You are very enlightened dirt.
(b) You forget you are dirt.

The final problem becomes that as "dirt", you are subject to the construction whims of the dirt manager(s).