Re: Gene Therapy & Ethics [was Re: AI Backlash] (fwd)
Sat, 14 Aug 1999 17:34:50 -0700

"Robert J. Bradbury" <> writes:

> I think we are back to my question of a month+ ago that
> may have gotten lost in the M-brain discussions:
> Do "ultrahumanists" have to confront and eliminate one of the
> two "prime directives" -- self-preservation & reproduction?

I've seen claims that neither of these prime directives actually exists in this bald form.

Nick Szabo (I think it was Nick) argued that people had no instinct for reproduction as such. Rather, they have drives that indirectly lead to the effect of reproduction. Their main instinct and desire is for sexual pleasure. There is also an instinctive enjoyment of babies, but that is less common. The first is much more powerful. He pointed out how many songs are about "getting it on" versus how few are about the pitter-patter of little feet. He actually suggested that with perfect birth control we might expect to see significant rates of population decrease.

Marvin Minsky argued that people have no instinct for self-preservation, and in fact no animals do. Our desire for self-preservation is actually an instinct to avoid pain, plus an intelligence-based, rational fear of the loss of consciousness that would occur with death. He claimed that animals have no instinctive fear of death as such, as they cannot understand death in the way that we do. Hence we have not inherited an instinct for self-preservation, and much of what seems to us to be such an instinct is actually cultural.