Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Harry Harpending has a eugenics update over at West Hunter.  It's here, we haven't thought it through, and it's too late now.  It will be patch-as-you-go in terms of ethics from here on out. 
Genetic improvement is becoming a market phenomenon—a situation discernible as long ago as the 1980s when Daniel Kevles, the leading historian of eugenics in the USA, quoted a biotechnology expert thus: “‘Human improvement’ is a fact of life, not because of the state … but because of consumer demand.”
Remember Future Shock, where we were warned that not only change, but the rate of change, would exceed our capacity to keep up? I think of Toffler a lot these days.

For example, privacy in the usual sense no longer exists and will not come back.  In twenty years people will not only wonder why we were so obsessed with it, they will wonder why they themselves were obsessed with it.


james said...

This may be moot: these are ethical problems for the rich. The clouds no bigger than a man's hand seem a little larger lately.

james said...

WRT privacy: how much was there in small villages? If you lived up the ridge on your farm, I'd guess plenty, but if you lived in the village (for mutual defense) I'd guess there wasn't much.

Stealing the story from another site....

During WW2, a German spy was trained and sent to Ireland. "Ve need to keep an eye on vhat ze Irish are up to," said the Kommandant.

"Ve vill parachute you into Ireland, vhere you vill go to ze local town und ask for Murphy. He is your contact. You vill say to him, 'The weather could change by Tuesday.' "

The German landed in Ireland, buried his parachute, and set off for the town. On the way he saw a local farm worker in a field.

"Güt Morg... I mean, Good Morning. Vould you know vair I can find Murphy?"

"Well, Sir," answers the man, "It all depends which Murphy you want. We have Murphy the priest, Murphy the doctor, Murphy the postman, Murphy the chemist. Murphy's me own name and I'm a farmer."

"Oh mein Gott!" thinks the German. Then he has an idea. He says, "Ze veather could change by Tuesday!"

A beatific smile of recognition illuminates the Irishman's face. "Ah," he says, "'Tis Murphy the spy you'll be wanting."

jaed said...

how much was there in small villages

"As much as you wanted", I would guess. That is, you could walk for a few minutes in any direction from any point in the village and generally have complete privacy. No drones, no GPS in your cell phone, more to the point... no people. If you wanted private conversation, you found a place with no visible people and there you go.

If you wanted to leave your ill-sorted life behind, you could just keep on walking. No birth-certificate requirements, no SSN, no electronic trail tying you to your old life.

Your neighbors would know whether you had cabbage for dinner and whether you'd had a fight with your husband last night, but you had a lot of control when you wanted privacy for a specific moment in your life.

(Love the story. ;-)