May 09, 2008

Yummy Ghrelin

Self devouringPractical Ethics: Hunger is the best spice is a little essay on the ethics of adding the hunger-hormone ghrelin (or something similar) to food. In an amazing jump from a research paper to science "reality" Io9 suggests that it is already being used as an additive. I argue that there is no need for it, since bright colours, salt, sugar, fat and glutamate already heighten our appetite enough in a low-tech, legal way.

I'm much more worried about tinkering with desire itself than with appetite. Vinge's "Focus" in A Deepness in the Sky show some of the really dangerous and tempting possibilities: imagine being able to program yourself to want what you want to want. Even if nobody else were given the keys to your desire system there are some pretty frightening failure modes - and potential rewards such as becoming as moral or focused as you really want to be.

In the meantime, I wonder if there exist any ghrelin secretagogues in chocolate.

Posted by Anders3 at May 9, 2008 05:50 PM