Re: Congressman Brad Sherman on intelligence

From: Perry E. Metzger (
Date: Sat Apr 26 2003 - 08:50:23 MDT

Samantha Atkins <> writes:
> I find myself more worried by this sort of increased political
> attention than pleased. Especially I find talk of giving the
> majority of humanity a say very disturbing. The vast majority of
> humankind today is not even literate and certainly mostly
> irrational. If even the literate majority kill things like stem
> cell research what do you think they would do toward technology that
> might make them and all humans obsolete or hardly like themselves in
> many ways within a generation or two?

I think the talk matters only in a localized sense. It may be possible
for a time to hold back the development of certain technologies. It
is certainly not possible to do it for long without killing all
sentient life on the planet. A sufficiently sustained Luddite effort
with participation from enough of the planet's population could cost
us decades or centuries, but could not ultimately hold back what is

The question is not whether we will end up building the sorts of
technologies we are discussing. Ultimately if the human race survives
we will build them, whether anyone dislikes the idea or not. The
question is whether the Luddite meme spreads far and fast enough to
make the transition worthlessly slow and bloody instead of smooth and
generally beneficial for everyone.

> I don't believe it will be pretty. And if such does come to pass,
> which I believe is quite likely, will all of us happily accept that
> the majority or powers that be have spoken and roll up our dreams
> and work and wait for death to overtake us? Or will we choose
> differently? Will we have the will and the means to choose
> differently when (not if) such a time comes?

The U.S. might be willing to end all stem cell research, but other
countries have not and will not. Some places may ban certain kinds of
research, but it unlikely that such efforts will have global
success. If we are interested in such things, we can always find a
home to do the work. The question is whether or not things get
needlessly delayed by such machinations.

Perry E. Metzger

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