[ExI] A Gedanken Rational Eugenics Experiment (AGREE)

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Oct 27 19:28:19 UTC 2013

On 2013-10-27 18:19, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 4:43 AM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se 
> <mailto:anders at aleph.se>> wrote:
>     Note that you would need to pay *a lot*. The below 1 SD population
>     is around 15%, so in the US that would be about 47 million people
>     you need to pay off. I am not sure what the going price for
>     getting sterilized is, but at least I expect it to be on the order
>     of a few thousand dollars - we are easily talking hundreds of
>     billions here. Not quite as much as is already spent on elementary
>     schools, but still a lot.
> There is a successful private endeavor to sterilize female drug 
> addicts for as little as $300.
> http://www.projectprevention.org <http://www.projectprevention.org/>
> Unfortunately, low IQ apparently is negatively correlated with drug 
> use. At least in one study.
> http://www.ibtimes.com/smart-people-illegal-drugs-intelligent-people-dont-always-do-right-thing-371056

Well, as a drug user with decent IQ ( 
) I don't feel much desire to be sterilized. But then again, my 
likelihood of getting an offspring is pretty microscopic.

"As of 7 October 2011 the organization had paid 3,848 clients." - that 
tells me they likely do not have the right price. Looking at 
it seems that a few percent of the population are drug users (2.8% 
adults are 'frequent drug users'). So of the around 1,457,735 frequent 
drug users only 0.26% had taken up the offer. More than I expected, 
actually, but still tiny.

Still, there is something relevant with that project: it looks at a 
phenotype that - at the very least through phenotypical effects - has a 
good chance of reducing the life quality of children. One could just as 
well imagine similar project paying other statistically bad parents - 
say people with personality disorders or criminal lifestyles - to not 
have children*. This would be good for the average child (since the 
chance of having a nice parent goes up), and indirectly maybe have some 
gene pool effect. But the moral argument for this largely hinges on the 
direct effect on the children, rather than caring for the gene pool.

The gene pool is in my opinion only instrumentally valuable as something 
that generates something truly valuable: good human lives. If we could 
get equally good lives by compiling DNA strings or voodoo invocations, 
there would not be any particular reason to keep the gene pool. This is 
why I am sceptical of interventions that seem to serve "the species" 
more than individual members.

[* Of course, when you start thinking about parent group membership 
correlating with bad childhoods a lot of the results are pretty 
unpalatable. Very fun to string people along and see how far they are 
willing to go - what about poor people? immigrants? parents with bad 
food habits? the wrong religion? ]

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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