Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Argument for cognitive enhancement - Brain Boosters

Stanford Magazine - March/April 2009

More drugs are going to come along, and some of them will have the characteristic that they not only make sick people better but they make healthy people still better. These drugs will be there, we need to think about how we should deal with them. One strong reaction is a knee-jerk “We should ban them”: that they’re cheating, that they’re unnatural, that they’re somehow wrong. The main point of this article is that we don’t agree with that. Enhancement is not a dirty word. I’m a teacher—my job is to enhance people. I’m a parent—my job, until they became teenagers, was to enhance my kids.

We do enhancement all the time. Education is enhancement. And as a law professor, I’m not only teaching my students facts that are important to them, but ways of manipulating those facts, ways of dealing with them. That’s cognitive enhancement. And it only works if I actually change their brains. If you remember tomorrow anything I’ve said today, it will be because I’ve made physical or electro-chemical changes in the cells of your brain. It’s kind of a weird thought, but true. So why is it that we do enhancement by so many other ways, but if you start talking about doing it through drugs, suddenly it becomes evil?

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