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Re: Morality, Responsibility, Technology.




>> The term "defect" is therefore entirely out of line.  We have no business
>> placing judgements from our own limited material value sets onto 
>> something which has the definite potential of affecting all future 
>> generations of Humanity.  It's none of our business.
> 
>The problem however, is that artificial selection maybe the only way to
>select beneficial attributes at all. What is presently being selected
>for in western societies is all the factors that lead to a lack of
>practice or belief in birth control. I'll let the reader think for a
>moment on just what those are. Perhaps we can also somehow test for and
>abolish the "Catholic" gene?

You offer the humorous example of Catholicism.  But this is really a 
deceptively clear example of exactly what I was saying: that we aren't even 
close to having any kind of objective faculties which would be required 
to competently make these kinds of decisions.  Catholicism: is it Nature 
or is it Nurture?  This example would effectively equivalent to just one 
ideology gaining "leverage" over another, and using the technology of 
genetics to gain this leverage.  I'll finish this up below.

I don't want to miss your real counterpoint behind the example.  What I hear 
you really saying is that you can open your eyes, and look around at the 
processes of natural selection in action, and you can see all kinds of 
social forces at work, many of which would appear, given our value set, to 
be functioning to the disadvantage of the species.  But again, this 
proves even more brutally how deeply our lack of objectivity runs when we 
try to evaluate such matters.

We tend to value traits such as industriousness, and yet we see some social 
welfare programs which effectively reward the absence of this quality.  
This example, as well as your own example, are issues which we can't 
even reach a consensus on socially.  And since *we* can't even deal with 
such things socially, how could we ever presume to claim the moral 
competence to address them genetically?

For example, our western society is less than 9,000 years old.  As 
participants we assume our western society is "good."  But a traditional 
Australian Aborigine, coming from a 35,000 to 60,000 year old society, 
might have a completely different perspective.  He might view our 
European lifestyle as one very big mistake, and a recent one at that.  
Maybe, just maybe, we have culturally taken a very large step away 
from what our inherent natures really are.  If this were true you might 
expect to see a larger amount of latent grey matter evolved into all of 
our skulls than any of us really use.  But then, this *is* the case.

So as we are, nobody really knows what the effect of widespread crypto 
will be, any more than we could have predicted the impact of cars or 
transistors or nuclear fission.  The future is literally in your hands.


Douglas B. Renner
[email protected]