More Transhumanism

by on March 8, 2005 at 7:14 am in Medicine, Religion | Permalink

In his excellent post yesterday on identity and transhumanism Tyler asked:

Now let’s say
your children could be one percent happier throughout their lives, but
this would mean they were totally unlike you, the parent… How many of us would choose this option?

I think the answer is more than Tyler imagines.  Many poor immigrants have made exactly this choice.  They come from the old country for a better life for their children and in the process their children become something strange and different from themselves, namely American.  The tension between the immigrant parents, never quite learning to speak English properly or to adopt the new ways and mores, and their American children can be hearbreaking.

Transhumanism will never make as large a difference between a single generation as does immigration.

Tyler also writes "Isn’t there a collective action problem here?  Everyone wants a more competitive kid but at the end humanity is very different."

True, but I think the collective action problem is actually a solution to the externality problem.  Consider a slight modification of Tyler’s example.

Suppose that your children could be much happier throughout
their lives, but this would mean they were totally unlike you, the
parent.

Why would parents say no to this offer?  Only because they discount the happiness of their children relative to their own – even if the children gain much more than the parents, the parents lose and they say no.  And yet isn’t this monstrous?

Fortunately, change across a single generation is likely to be small so parents will say yes even though 5 or 6 or 10 generations down the line the changes will be dramatic.  It’s because of this wedge effect that Fukuyama is so worried about relatively small changes today and it’s precisely for this reason that his opposition has no hope of success in a free society.

Bring on the velociraptors.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: