[ExI] Moral enhancement

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Oct 6 05:29:42 UTC 2015

On 2015-10-05 20:02, Dan TheBookMan wrote:
> On Oct 5, 2558 BE, at 9:09 AM, William Flynn Wallace 
> <foozler83 at gmail.com <mailto:foozler83 at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> A final solution:  program our genes with powerful instincts so that 
>> we simply cannot do anything antihuman.  Take away free will, if you 
>> will.  If you never had it, you'll never miss it.
> That's the authoritarian position, no? If people don't meet someone's 
> social ideal, then change the people. Why would that ever be a good 
> thing to enforce on others?

We do enforce it on children and insane people, often for their own 
good. Unfortunately we also do do it for other, bad reasons. And as we 
argued in my most controversial paper ( 
) we may want to enforce these things on *ourselves*.

There has been a discussion in bioethics of moral enhancement for a few 
years (centered around Savulescu and Person's book "Unfit for the 
Future"): given that we are moving towards a world of powerful 
technologies in the hands of most people, it might be necessary for our 
survival to become more ethical and sane. So biomedical moral 
enhancement, improving people's ability to make good moral choices, may 
be something that should be enforced even if the exact choices or moral 
systems are left to people.


 From a transhumanist standpoint moral enhancement is interesting. When 
we had the discussion about enhanced emotions back around Extro 4, it 
touched on this (long before the outside philosophers crowded in). We 
can distinguish between enhancing the capacities useful for making moral 
behavior (improving our ability to foresee consequences, empathize with 
others, and control ourselves), enhancements of our social structures 
(setting up incentives to be nice, surveillance and reputations to make 
being bad worse), but also the ethical issues of being a moral enhanced 
being - with great power comes great responsibility.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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