The correlation between being intelligent and being right is, unfortunately, not as robust as we’d like it to be.
If sensible individuals have been as right as they’re sensible, figuring out what to do on a regular basis can be so much easier than it truly is. But, alas.
A case-in-point is an article entitled “The New Normal,” revealed just lately in Georgia State University Magazine, highlighting the considering of uncontested sensible individual (and Smart Drug Smarts podcast alumnus) Nicole Vincent, affiliate professor of philosophy and affiliate neuroscience school member at GSU.
Unfortunately, the important thing concept of this article is just plain flawed.
The article presages a future the place society has to cope with the nasty, unintended penalties of ever-more-effective cognition-enhancing medicine. In this hypothetical dystopia, well being/safety and efficacy considerations have all been addressed; the problems introduced are purely social ones.
The title – “The New Normal” – refers to the social expectation that everyone can be utilizing these medicine, for worry of underperforming and never maintaining with the cognitively-enhanced Joneses.
Citing high-responsibility professions like surgeons and airline pilots, Vincent warns of creeping public strain for people to make use of the best-available cognitive enhancers to maximize their performance. “You’re performing a job that many people’s lives depend on,” she says. “If you mess up and people die when you could have just taken this [performance-enhancing] pill, people will see that as negligence.”
Why sure, I daresay they might.
Let me step again for a second and say that I agree with a lot of the premises that the article’s “doomsday scenario” of adjusting cultural norms is predicated on.
- I agree that cognitive enhancement applied sciences (including, but not restricted to, “smart drugs”) will continue to enhance.
- I agree that early-adopters and extra competitive members of society will use this stuff, and change our collective expectations — first of what’s “acceptable,” subsequent of what’s “normal,” and eventually what is “required” (both legally, or by overwhelming social strain).
- I agree that we’ll release these technologies into our society without having a clear understanding of their eventual penalties.*
* People have a nasty monitor report on the subject of protecting genies in bottles. If there are any technological genies that haven’t been un-bottled, I can’t think of them. (In fact, this could possibly be because their inventors stored them so darned secret we just don’t know such genies have been invented — and in that case, kudos to those inventors.) However as a rule — from atomic weapons to boy bands — if we invent issues, we tend to use them and only afterwards contemplate what we’ve wrought on ourselves.
So if I agree with virtually each premise introduced by Vincent, what’s she flawed about, precisely?
Her thesis fails the So-What Check.
Cognitive Enhancement will turn out to be the new regular. So what.
As these applied sciences move from the Early Adopters to the Early Majority and ultimately to everyone else, even the kicking, screaming Laggards will probably be pressured alongside (see the Diffusion of Improvements for this fun, cocktail-party terminology).
But… so what?
Let me present some examples of other concepts which have failed the So-What Check:
- “If access to basic education continues to expand… people will have to be literate to effectively participate in society.”
- “If air travel becomes commonplace… businesses may expect workers to travel for hours at a time, at extreme heights, with absolutely nothing underneath of them.”
- “If medicine further reduces infant mortality… manufacturers of child coffins will be put out of business — or else suffer the ignominy of re-marketing their products for small household pets.”
So freaking what, in all instances.
I might provide you with extra examples — a lot more. All these if-thens are 100% right. And all are absurd in a approach that is self-evident to pretty much everybody except… philosophers.
I don’t need to put words in anybody’s mouth (or over-speculate about someone else’s writing), but Vincent’s stance seems to be “we haven’t figured out all the ramifications of these technologies yet, so we should maintain the status quo until we do.”
But we will’t.
And I don’t just mean we shouldn’t, I imply we can’t.
With apologies to Nostradamus and Madame Cleo, most of our track-records for predicting the longer term are simply plain rotten. And that features actually sensible individuals — even skilled think-tanks filled with really sensible individuals.
Precisely predicting the longer term requires access to monumental knowledge units, strong estimates of rates-of-change, an inherently counterintuitive understanding of exponential progress, and effective fashions of how numerous simultaneously-moving metrics work together with one another.
The truth is, I’m simply speculating that this recipe — if it could possibly be pulled off — might precisely predict the longer term. We don’t know. However I discover it onerous to think about that any of those tent-pole conditions wouldn’t be crucial.
Vincent’s stance appears to be “we haven’t figured out all the ramifications of these technologies yet, so we should maintain the status quo until we do.”
It was Abraham Lincoln who stated: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” I’ve been reading Group of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, and one thing is straightforward for us to overlook now, 150 years later, however was an unlimited hurdle for Lincoln and different slavery-abolitionists:
There were lots of Lincoln’s contemporaries — even those that morally opposed slavery — who thought that the Regulation of Unintended Penalties, when applied to a societal change as large as the 13th Amendment (which made slaves’ wartime emancipation permanent), was just too dangerous. What righteous infants could be thrown out with the slavery-colored bathwater? Heck, what concerning the catastrophe inflicted on the federal government’s Strategic Mule Provide, if every of the freed slaves actually received “40 acres and a mule”?
(Please refer again to the So-What Check, talked about above.)
Rhetorical Bag of Soiled Tips #47 and #48: If you want to sound good, align your concepts with these of Abraham Lincoln. To demonize your opposition, reference their ideas alongside Hitler’s. I do each, although I’m leaving Hitler out of this submit.
“The only constant is change.”
Making an attempt to recreation out the longer term before it arrives, as we’ve discussed, is a fool’s errand.
And trying to stop the longer term from arriving — to cease time in its tracks — is as shut as historical past provides us to a recipe for a lost cause. There are so many examples of dropping battles fought in the identify of such causes; the cultural annihilation of both the Native People and the samurai of Imperial Japan both come to mind.
Taking a look at these long-ago-settled battles from the winners’ aspect of history — understanding who triumphed and why, we now see the romance beneath the mud. The American Indians, the samurai — both have been preventing technologically superior forces in doomed, all-or-nothing conflicts. The winners’ superior firepower, their superior numbers — each feel quite a bit like dishonest as we glance back on these conflicts now.
The “noble savages” didn’t stand an opportunity, but boy-oh-boy, did they have heart.
The position taken in the GSU article — towards the creeping use of cognitive enhancement applied sciences — would try to paint baseline Homo Sapiens (circa 2015) as a noble savage race.
It’s an argument that packs emotional attraction.
You, me, and everybody we all know, falls into the “us” that is underneath this impending, theoretical menace. Even these of us who are using cognitive enhancers (those at present out there) — we’re nonetheless part of the “home team,” compared to these upgraded rascals from 2020, or 2030, or 2045, and no matter brain-enhancers they’re utilizing to one-up, two-up, and ultimately disenfranchise the organic “normals.”
What Part of “Progress” Don’t You Like?
I’m a sucker for historic romance. I don’t mean boy-meets-girl kissy-kissy stuff the place the woman wears a corset; I imply the broad, sweeping emotionality of individual people struggling amidst nice forces.
And the Tide of Historical past is among the many biggest of forces — much less tangible however equally powerful as any natural disaster.
I watch a film like The Final Samurai and see the doomed samurai charge, and I get misty-eyed like everyone else. But I recognize that those noble samurai are, nevertheless unwittingly, the dangerous guys.
Unbeknownst to them, they have been preventing towards a world that cured Polio.
They have been preventing towards a world that explores area.
They have been preventing towards a world where run-of-the-mill shopper know-how allows me to research samurai while listening to Icelandic music (created on synthetic devices, and introduced in Encompass-Sound) as I sip African espresso and look forward to a transcontinental flight that shall be quicker, cheaper, and safer than it was to journey between close by villages.
In fact, the samurai didn’t know they have been preventing towards these things.
They only weren’t positive about this entire modernization thing, and what kind of “new normals” may emerge.
Bob Dylan was right: The occasions, they are a-changin’.
You gained’t be pressured to keep up.
Cultural tides might pull you along, but you’ll be free to swim towards the present when you actually need to. There are examples of that, too. The Amish are one.
The Amish are still here, in 2015. So far as I know, they’re not beneath any specific menace. They’re doing okay. They determined to tug the cultural emergency-brake in 1830, or no matter, and properly…
They live on. Why? Because we reside in a peaceful-enough, prosperous-enough tradition that no one has decided it’s essential to overrun, assimilate, or eradicate them and harvest their assets.
It ought to be identified that societies like ours — this peaceable, this prosperous — are considerably of an historical anomaly. But the excellent news is: We stay in an period of unprecedented constructive historical anomalies.
I recognize that these noble samurai are, nevertheless unwittingly, the dangerous guys.
If you wish to choose out of additional technological progress and depend on the goodwill of your fellow man (or, ultimately, the Homo Sapiens-successors you’ll be opting out of turning into), there’s by no means been a safer time to do so. We will’t predict the longer term, but the trend-lines do seem promising.
However for me, personally…
I don’t need to depend on the goodness of my fellow man.
That kind of reliance is one thing you do in a pinch, not as a basic strategy.
Do you assume the Amish would have made it via the Cold Conflict with out the extra technologically-minded People choosing up their cultural slack? No sir, by no means. Heck, they’d have been steamrolled within the Spanish-American Conflict, generations earlier.
I didn’t start off this publish meaning to disparage the Amish, however dammit, now I’ll. The very fact is, they’re not going to learn this anyway.
There is a phrase for individuals who have every alternative to be efficient, however choose to not be, and as an alternative depend on others to be effective on their behalf.
That phrase is Freeloaders.
The Amish, I put it to you, are freeloaders.
GSU’s New Regular article posits a future where efficient, low cost, protected, non-prescription “smart drugs” have turn out to be commonplace.
In that future, when it arrives, people who have the chance to make use of these medicine to improve themselves, and select not to, may also be freeloaders.
I gained’t be certainly one of them.