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Mathias Probst

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Provocatively: Who should be allowed to survive?

In a TED-Talk by Juan Enriquez 3 main technological trends are presented that might in the future enable us to improve our perception and other abilities significantly. He is even saying that people with access to such technology would be "Homo Evolutis" and thus a different kind of man. They would be more powerful than "homo sapiens" because of their new abilities.

To avoid such a separation of mankind the access to the technology must be fair and regulated. So: How do we decide who gets access to it? Are socio-economic factors good selection criteria for the new kind of evolution?
As we might in the future have the opportunity to decide ourselves who evolves and who does not, let us set the "selection criteria" consciously and try to base them on more sophisticated indicators than economic or social power.
I think "survival of the moral and intelligent" would be an ideal principle. But I cannot imagine a practicable system of how to objectively find people with those traits and give them access to the technologies yet.

Just to make it clear: "Survival" is meant metaphorically and used as a synonym for getting access to the technologies that Juan Enriquez presents in his talk. There is no literal meaning or any elitistic aspect to it.

Thus the question reformulated is:
Who do you think should get access to the technologies that Juan Enriquez presents and how can this distribution be realised practically, so that it is fair and humanity is not separated into "evolutis" and "sapiens"?

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  • Jan 6 2013: "Thus the question reformulated is:
    Who do you think should get access to the technologies that Juan Enriquez presents and how can this distribution be realised practically, so that it is fair and humanity is not separated into "evolutis" and "sapiens"?"

    Solution: pay for it through public funds so everyone has access, if some technologies are too expensive for this then ban them until they become cheaper, that or have a lottery (but I think most people prefer not to have a lottery).

    Yes, this may cause some technologies to be held back but if giving those technologies to the highest bidder early on dos not advance the greater good, why should the world care that those technologies are being held back?

    Or to put it bluntly: your great, grea, great grandfather having sunk a Spanish ship for the crown is a piss poor way to decide that you deserve transhuman enhancements and I don't, even if you work twice as hard as me that still shouldn't entitle you to get enhancements that increase your productivity ten fold and it sure as hell shouldn't mean that my descendants will never again have the opportunity to catch up with your descendants, no matter how hard they, standard humanly possible, work.
    • Jan 6 2013: Very good point! Public funds could indeed be a fair solution keeping opportunities equal for everyone. I do believe as well that financial wealth should not automatically entitle you to more power.
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    • Jan 6 2013: It is not at all. Please read the explanation of the conversation. The question is how access to special technologies can be regulated to prevent such things. The title is provocative with "survive" metaphorically standing for the access to the technology. If you read the introduction, you'd understand. I might have to change the title because this misunderstanding occured before.
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        • Jan 6 2013: Well the fact that your assumptions are wrong and the opposite is the case make me believe that there still is some misunderstanding of the question here. In the talk of Juan Enriquez he present 3 technologies that might enhance the human body in the future. I don't think this is good and it scares me to think that people might have to modify their bodies from birth on to not be disadvantaged. But we should accept that such technologic improvement cannot be stopped and will one day be reality. So instead of promoting these things I ask how we can prepare for their coming by regulating their use and what kind of people should get access to it. Is it really so difficult to read this intention out of the description? Please stop with those quick comparisons to criminals. Thanks
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    Gail . 50+

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    Jan 5 2013: Self decides.

    Those who already have access to universal consciousness are powerful beings. No one can harm them without their consent. They manifest things and situations into their realities. They walk toward different probabilities than most.

    To connect to universal consciousness and utilize the power, wisdom, & knowledge thereof, one need only be self-aware. Most people don't even know that there is a self that exists beyond/without ego. These are the ones who are choosing to not-evolve. No one can choose for them.

    In the words of James Randi, "They are the sheep (sheeple) who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who will battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized."
    • Jan 5 2013: If I understand you correctly, you are discussing a different kind of evolution than Juan Enriquez in his talk.
      If we define for this discussion that evolution comes with the new technologies that enhance the human body, self cannot always decide whether to evolve or not because some people (even if self aware) might not have access to this technology.

      If evolution is connected to "universal consciousness" this is a whole new topic. I would by the way be interested what exactly you understand by the term "universal consciousness". For you, is it a mental state or higher power or what do you think it is?
      PS: I do not like your quotation.. Even though it is probably meant differently it seems like a justification for dictatorship and discrimination to me.
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        Gail . 50+

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        Jan 5 2013: It isn't that I'm discussing a different kind of evolution as much as I am discussing how to discover and achieve a different kind of reality - and then explaining how only those who become self-aware can choose to achieve it.

        For me, universal conscious is a state of being self-aware. Most people are owned by their emotions, and they are thus blocked from self-awareness. They tend to confuse emotional reaction with intellectual thought. This causes a state of perceptual blindness.

        I know that the quote is harsh. It isn't a call for a dictatorship. It's an explanation of how dictatorships come into being. Those who are self-aware do not play "follow the leader". They own their emotional states rather than be owned by them. They have walked through their irrational fears. They know that emotions come AFTER thought, that they are two completely different things, and that emotions are a compass (tool) rather than a weapon of self-flagelation.

        So in answer to the lead question, "Who should be allowed to survive?", I answered that those who are self-aware will choose to and those who are not self-aware will play "follow the leader" to their own ends.

        I say this because humanity is in the midst of a perfect storm. Our numbers have exceeded our ability to sustain us. Global warming - whatever the cause - is diminishing that state further. Our fiscal paradigm rewards farming conglomerates to pollute aquifers and destroy top soil - degrading it further. Our fiscal paradigm also rewards those who profit from instigating wars including manipulating the sheeple who will encourage them (in the name of self-defense that isn't really self-defense).

        Whether by plague or war or just plain famine and thirst, our number will be diminished. Those who are self-aware have learned how to manifest things/situations into their realities. These are the ones with the tools to survive. Thus the choice of who will survive is ours alone - not someone else's.
        • Jan 5 2013: Thank you for the explanation! I agree with you, of course universally conscious beings as you describe them would have the best chances of survival in the dangerous situation that humanity faces at this time.

          I did not mean "Who should be allowed to survive" literally but I used "survive" as a provocative metaphor for being granted access to the technologies that Enriquez presents (I derived the metaphor from his declaring the technology as evolution in combination with Darwin's principle of evolution). Through this understanding of the term "survival" it might be someone elses choice whether for a self-conscious being to get access to evolution in Enriquez' sence or not.
          So, applying this to your proposal: Do you think that self-awareness should be the main criterion of how to select those who should be able to enhance their bodies artificially? And if yes what would be a good mechanism to objectively find them? Maybe a system of self-selection could be imaginable here.
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        Jan 5 2013: My view precludes someone choosing for me.

        But if someone can, given that our economy is on the brink of collapse, money won't be the determining factor on "who".
  • Jan 5 2013: Xavier has made w valid point.
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    Jan 5 2013: "He is even saying that people with access to such technology may be called "Homo Evolutis" rather than "Homo Sapiens". But how do we decide who gets access to it? "

    What exactly is the decision here?
    When new technology comes out the richest and the show-offs purchase it first for the sake of the novelty and then as the price drops, everyone else purchases it. Even in a medical related areas I'm not aware of a situation that greatly deviates from that model.

    "In fact: How should Darwin's "survival of the fittest" be redefined"
    Its actually been redefined since the birth of society if you really think about it. Humans have been almost entirely independent of the environmental factors that made 'survival of the fittest' a requirement since that point.

    'how could it then be realised?"
    ...How could what be realized? I assume the answer isn't as obvious as 'it becomes realized when you put the definition in the dictonary', so you need to elaborate. Thanks
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    Jan 26 2013: Just thinking about this Mathias, a man from your area, back in the 1600's I believe once quoted (roughly) A man can not govern the world who can not govern his country, a man can not govern his country, who can not govern his state...A man can not govern his city, who can not govern his home. I believe his initials were FG, but could be wrong. Anyways, I extended that past the world to include the solar system, our neighboring stars, the Galaxy and then the Universe. So what does this have to do with the seperated and fair? Well, we may need a different species to be able to govern the world as one. Have you ever wondered why we only use less than thirty percent of out brains? We need the next species to move forward. And I know, people hate change like automobiles, computers and airplanes. Over time, yes, Homo Sapiens will be wiped out but with 7 billion people that will take hundereds if not thousands of years.
  • Jan 6 2013: This is not really new. It is already happening, and has been for centuries. Access to technology is determined by the free market. Today, many people who do not have access to the technology that provides clean drinking water do not survive, literally.

    If you sincerely believe that government regulation can provide a better means of rationing technology, you must have very little experience with government regulation.

    'I think "survival of the moral and intelligent" would be an ideal principle.'

    This is exactly the kind of good intentions that lead to horrors. Please read about the history of Eugenics. It is clear that you are not proposing Eugenics, but the similarities are alarming. Many of the people who first advocated Eugenics had very good intentions, they sincerely wanted to reduce human misery. And by the way, this statement is the very essence of elitist.

    Also, you might want to read about organ donor lists.
    • Jan 6 2013: Thank you for the suggestions.
      So to come back to the question: You think that the use of such technology should be as free as possible and regulated by the market, right? In a way some sort of "survival of the rich"? Socio-economis factors might be a way to find "good" people because we tend to financially reward characteristics like intelligence, but doesn't it lack a moralistic aspect for you?
      Of course the ideal principle is "survival of everyone" but I think that there will be a long transition phase where someone might be forced to select who gets the technology first.
      • Jan 6 2013: I will try to make myself clear. In my previous comment I did not use the word "should."

        This is the real world. "Should" is and will continue to be irrelevant.

        I think every human being should have access to clean drinking water, plentiful nutritious food, quality shelter and the very best health care. I think humans should treat each other kindly and never hurt each other. That is my fantasy. It guides some of my actions and some of my words, but it is very important to remember that the real world does not conform to my wishes.

        In the modern real world, regulating access to technology, and especially the type of technology that Juan Enriquez is talking about, is impossible. That is probably a good thing, because no human, and no group of humans, is wise enough to decide who gets this technology and who does not get it. History has taught us that people who consider themselves wise enough to make such decisions have made horrible decisions.

        Your notion that there might exist some group of "good" people who "should" have access to advanced technology is offensive, regardless of your definition of "good" and regardless of any particular set of criteria. It necessarily implies that other people are inferior and not deserving.

        If the government "should" have any role in this issue, that role should be to assure that everyone has an equal OPPORTUNITY to live as they choose to live. Some people choose to pursue the wealth that would assure them early access to these technologies. Other people choose to pursue other values. Many people will not be capable of using such technology.

        By the way, if you do read about organ donor lists, be sure to also read about the "black" market for human organs.
        • Jan 6 2013: If you let the market decide who gets the technology, I think that you actually do decide who or what kind of people gets access to the technologies. People do not face equal opportunities on the "free market", so some would be advantaged. And even if they wouldn't: people are different and does the free market really reward characteristics that you and I would consider valuable? Maybe yes, but is it the best way?

          So, discussion about possible fairer ways of distribution out there - whatever they may be - makes sense to me. If we cannot find fairer ways (I think it would be fairer to include moral factors for example) that's fine, but I want to at least try challenging this system of distribution for some goods that would give you power over others. That is because I am not convinced that wealthy people are the best ones to deal with this power. (Again here: I think it's bad if some people have more power than others but if we cannot prevent it, then who should have the power? I am not trying to make elitist statements, I am coming from the premise that we may be unable to prevent this difference from occuring)

          Maybe there is another possibility to the free market, where people really have equal chances to get access if they like and where moral behaviour is rewarded more than in our current economy.

          PS: You did not say should but that does not mean it is irrelevant. "Should" might be irrelevant from a positive point of view, but if we want to change something, to be aware of the "should" is the first step and I am trying to discuss it in this threat.
          The second step is how to realise the "should" and you appropriately described one major problem: How can the distribution be decided (you proposed the free marked which is a system created by humans as well with the consequence being the rich getting access, I believe there must be a better solution)
          How the realisation could be achieved instead should thus be a question to concentrate our capacities on.
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    Jan 5 2013: Being from Germany and all you should look into the practice of Eugenics it was authored for this purpose.

    Or how about it is not anyone's place to decide such things?
    • Jan 5 2013: ?
      I am not sure if you understood what this conversation really is about. Eugenics is not proposed in any way here, Juan Enriquez says that genetical engineering could be one aspect of the next step of evolution. And that you assume that a German should be especially interested in Eugenics disturbs me a bit.
      Anyways, I think genetical engineering will sooner or later be a reality we have to cope with and one of the questions asked in this conversation is how to regulate access to it and use it responsively.

      "Or how about it is not anyone's place to decide such things?"
      I assume this is your answer to the question "Who should be allowed to survive?" and by taking this question litterally you assumed that I was talking about implementing some crazy nazi ideology :D. If you follow the comments more carefully, you will see that the conversation has nothing to do with that.
      It has a provoking title, but the word "survive" derives from Enriquez calling the three technological trends "evolution" in combination with Darwin's evolutionary principle as I wrote in another comment.

      The main question asked here is who should get access to those powerful technologies and I do think that it is democracy's place to decide that. Better decide democratically and consciously than letting fate decide for us! This question is too important to just risk a separation of humanity.
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        Jan 5 2013: You think that this should be decided by a government I don't.

        Hitler thought it best who should live or not as well.

        You are say you are disturbed a bit, that is a two way street!
        • Jan 5 2013: What do you mean by "THIS" should not be decided by a government? The access to life-changing technology? Then you might want to explain why not :).

          As long as you do not reply to what I commented and base your opinion on an argument I cannot understand your point. What do you actually think this discussion is about, because never did I say anyone would know best who should live. I already explained this to you and also how the term "survive" in the lead question was meant but you seem to ignore that reply..
          Bringing Hitler into the discussion without reffering to anything relevant to the topic seems a bit inappropriate to me as well.
          Please help me understand how you come from discussing the access to technology to Hitler and deciding who should live! In your two comments you did not contribute to the topic of the discussion yet and you should make sure you read what I wrote first before drawing comparisons of my alleged opinion that could not be more wrong.

          I am intrigued to hear your argument on why the access to genetical engineering and other powerful and potentially dangerous science should not be restricted or at least regulated by the government.

          Thank you
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        Jan 5 2013: When government decides anything regarding how people live.
        • Jan 5 2013: So the government (representing the citizens themselves) should not decide anything about how people live, what technology they use or similar circumstances of their lives.., okay. I think this is quite a radical point of view: Where is the border to what a government can forbid? Should the use of all sorts of drugs or chemical weopons also be allowed to every citizen?
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        Jan 5 2013: Minimal regulations.
        • Jan 5 2013: I am sorry but I do not have enough time to try making sence out of such little input.
          I understand what you mean but if you don't argue this is not really constructive. I've spent enough time trying to explain to you that I am not a fascist and still do not understand how you came to this assumption but I hope you understand my question now. I hope your view of the world outside of America will become a bit more elaborate in the near future.

          All the best and thanks for your contribution.
  • Jan 5 2013: Thank you Xavier for the reply.
    Maybe I did not make my question clear enough in the header.
    What I would be interested in is not who gets access but who should get access to the technology.

    I think that it will be very hard to make the innovations accessible to everyone and if we do not try to establish systems and rules for the access it will indeed result in the richest purchasing it first and maybe only them. But I do not think this is a good solution. The advantage that they would have over the rest of the people might create a separation between two races of men: The "homo sapiens" and the "homo evolutis". The advantages of the technology would in a way make some men superior to others and give them more power which I do not like but it might be inevitable.

    My question is how we should select for the sake of humanity to whom we want to give this power and how we can establish a system of distribution that realises the access of the selected crowd.

    The term "survival of the fittest" has indeed redefined itself since the rise of civilisation, but why not try a normative approach? As we might in the future have the opportunity to decide ourselves who evolves and who does not, let us set the "selection criteria" consciously and try to base them on more sophisticated indicators than economic or social power.
    I think "survival of the moral and intelligent" would be an ideal principle. But I cannot imagine a practicable system of how to objectively find those people give them access to the "further evolution" yet.

    In your comment you appropriately describe the current situation and I hope the question is more clear now and we can start thinking out of the box :)