RE: Dangers of human self-modification

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Wed May 26 2004 - 08:30:25 MDT

Hi Ben,

> What this thread really leads to is the (obvious) conclusion that we'd
> be better off to enhance humans for IMPROVED WISDOM before we enhance
> them for improved intelligence.


I wrote my last post before I read this in your last message - but what
you have said here is the core of what I was trying to say.

> "Genetically engineering a wiser human" is an excellent transhumanist
> project.

*But* I think *this* way to "enhance humans for IMPROVED WISDOM"
is just about the most difficult way to do it and leaves unaddressed
what I think is the easiest and possibly the most effective way to do it -
through the very unsexy processes of improving health and nutrition,
education, enculturation and training. These are the well known (but
insufficiently applied) ways to enhance human hardware and software.

Using the traditional approaches to the human wisdom enhancement
the issue is less one of general method of delivering enhancment but of
how to create strategies to get resources put into these activities on the
necessary scale.

I think our most urgent project is enhancing wisdom using the currently
available intelligence platform (ie. biological humans versions 20th and
early 21st century) - in partnership with the emerging machine
intelligence - directed at solving pressing problems in ways that don't
just add to the raft of current problems.

The reason why I think that "genetically engineering a wiser human" is
the most difficult path we could follow to boost wisdom is the path
between the actions of genes and the output of wisdom must be about
the longest possible. It's a bit like trying to create wise IT systems by
talking to Intel about chip design rather than talking to the box
developers, sofware developers and the trainers of the users of the

If you could find a way to plug massive accurate modelling capacity in
biological humans by figuring out how we could grow a neo-neo-cortex
(or whatever) and how we can grow links between minds to achieve
stable and reliable distributed mentation - then this sort of modification
might make a difference!

But I don't think this breakthrough (in physical enhancement of
humans) is all that critical as we can get nearly the same effect if
people and machine modelling intelligences work together using
telecommunications as the glue.

Cheers, Philip

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