[ExI] Taxonomy of Human Enhancement
anders at aleph.se
Fri Jan 13 18:01:31 UTC 2012
When I first saw the thread title, I began to think about taxonomies in
the classificatory rather than the ontological sense, i.e. ways of
dividing enhancement into (nested) categories, or dimensions that are
For example, a fairly common division in bioethics is between therapy
(return to normal function), enhancing up to maximal species-typical
performance (i.e. as smart as Einstein or as strong as an Olympic
athlete), and going beyond it.
In my presentations I usually have a diagram splitting enhancement into
internal/external hardware/software, but I have grown vary of it - it is
hard to draw clear lines between them, and it might not matter very much.
Another distinction I think does have some merit is enhancement and
extensions: enhancements makes some trait we have "better" (by some
standard) while extensions give us a new trait that previously did not
One can also try to split the target of the enhancement, for example
into cognitive, physical and emotional, and then split them further
(memory, creativity, attention, intelligence, etc.) However, many
enhancement interventions cut across categories - a stimulant might not
just sharpen attention, but also perk up mood. Or a health enhancer
might have positive effects on cognition *through* health and mood.
It would be nice to have a taxonomy of taxonomies of enhancement.
Future of Humanity Institute
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