This panel is part of the ‘Stepping Into the Future‘ conference.
What is the most wonderful experience you have had in your life?
Now imagine if every moment in your life could be as good as this experience, or even better. Other things being equal, wouldn’t it be nice if we had higher quality lives?
For much of history talk of ‘paradise engineering’ would simply be dismissed as utopian dreaming. Though throughout the course of civilization humanity has been trying to improve it’s lot by manipulating it’s environment in innumerable different ways – yet, to be honest on the inside we’re not significantly happier now than ancestors on the African savanna – certainly not if suicide, depression and marital breakup statistics etc. are taken seriously.
Nowadays thanks to progress in advanced biotechnology we can shift the focus inwards – it’s becoming increasingly possible to re-engineer ourselves; to edit our own source code to enjoy life animated by gradients of bliss – other things being equal, doesn’t it make sense to make that our default option?
What could go wrong? Well lots of things could go wrong – but that’s true of any experiment – and that’s what having kids involves today. When two people decide to bring children into
the world chances are the moment they are going to be bringing in an awful amount of suffering into the world too.
If we are ethically serious, in the future when one creates new life one will be potentially creating gradients of lifelong well-being.
A lost people will probably think “well that’s all well and good maybe our children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren will enjoy this kind of fabulous life.”
“What about me now?” – because we’re human, one can listen to these wonderful tales some futurists relate of how good life could be in future – a future of super-intelligence, super-longevity and super-happiness – all these wonderful things – what about now? One still has bills to pay, taxes, relationship problems, just the messy nitty-gritty reality of life – unfortunately there is no panacea now – the kinds of interventions one can suggest: good diets, exercise, sleep discipline… unfortunately are on not as exciting as tantalizing prospects that our children and grandchildren will enjoy.
A Non-Trivial Pursuit of Happiness
See this short with David Pearce giving a simple explanation of why the pursue extreme well being, and indeed strive to engineer paradise rather than let ‘nature take its course’:
Toward the Abolition of Suffering through Science
Here is an online panel with David Pearce, Brian Tomasik, Andres Gomez Emilsson & Mike Johnson ‘Towards the Abolition of Suffering through Science’:
See previous posts involving Mike Johnson’s work on
1) Ethics, Qualia Research & AI Safety,
2) Uncovering the Mysteries of Affective Neuroscience – the Importance of Valence Research and 3) On Consciousness, Qualia, Valence & Intelligence