February 22, 2008

Speaking at Cambridge on Sunday

BridgeI will be speaking at the Cambridge University Transhumanist Society about Cognitive Enhancement on Sunday.

Some notes that I did in response to a post on Samizdata:

Making drugs equally available is an interesting problem, since different people react to them differently (and doubtless some parents will refuse). Is it enough to have enhancement vouchers?

Deep down we of course have the issues surrounding mandatory education - if education is so good at making us autonomous individuals that it has to be mandatory, then some enhancers might eventually also contribute enough to this that they ought to be mandatory. While I think even most libertarians would agree vaccines are close to that level, I would expect that most of us are a bit less eager to force biomedical changes on people.

Safety is going to be an interesting issue, especially since the most promising target is the developing brain. All the current ethical problems about medication for the young are going to be twice as nasty for enhancement.

But the irony is that we think nothing of drinking tea and coffee, that various (often spurious) "brain training exercises" are widely used and parents happily eat diets supposed to make their kids better off (some of which actually can cause beneficial gene expression changes). Very little (if any) research looks at the ethics and safety of these methods. Or even the safety of education itself - it is not obvious or likely that it just has beneficial effects.

Posted by Anders3 at February 22, 2008 03:54 PM