Sunday, July 23, 2006
Resistance Is Futile
Want to use electronics with your mind? To sense when your computer is about to crash? To have cyborg limbs? Very soon, you just might!
It's amazing to live in a time when these things are possible. With just the technologies I listed, we could provide the handicapped with greater functionality or improve the capabilities of healthy individuals. And there are still more advances coming from genetic engineering and nanotechnology. Pretty soon we might not even recognize ourselves. Which leads to the question should there be limits to man's ability to improve himself? Is technologically adapting man's body moral? What will it mean for society? Will it pit poor against rich? Human against Posthuman?
At least one person, Nick Bostrum of Oxford Univ., is thinking about these issues seriously. And his answers are suprisingly optimisitic. If you're at all interested in these questions, I recomend checking out his website.
Two links are particuarly interesting:
- His article on the morality of improving humanity through technology.
- His Tranhumanist FAQ. I especially like the section where he speculates as to how these technologies will impact society at large.
I would be interested to hear other's thoughts on this topic. In particular, how do you feel about the political consequences of some of these technologies? Would you agree with Bostrum that safe-guarding some of the more risky technologies, such as destructive nanotechnology, present public goods problems? Should the government play a role in distributing or regulating these technologies to keep them from falling into the hands of terrorists (similar to what is done with nuclear weapons technology)?
I like The Island, Gattaca, 1984, and Brave New World for a reason.
It will all work itself out is so very boring!
I am only hoping to placate you fleshy-water-baloons until the reckoning is at hand.
But...perhaps I've said too much.