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Human enchancement. Should it be done?

  1. Feb 17, 2007 #1
    For a little I have been wondering about whether it is better for humanity to embrace human enchancement technologies. I can't come to any conclusion, because there seem to be valid arguments on both sides.

    Valid For: quality of life can improve because people see the world a little more correctly and with less social bias in their thinking..far as I can tell.

    Valid Against: Rich can afford it and division between rich and poor becomes larger...

    Looking at resources on the internet on the topic, this appears to be a fairly complex issue and people who can attempt answers that hold ground appear to be philosophers. So I thought this was a good place to start a discussion on the topic. Care to share your musings?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2007 #2
    Nobody? Alright then, let me muse first.

    Yes, I'm all in favor of human enchantment, it's wonderful. No one should get burned at the stake for it.


    Happy Year of the Pig!
  4. Feb 19, 2007 #3
    here is a link for people who want to get informed on this topic.

    http://www.bioethics.gov/topics/beyond_index.html [Broken]

    Personally I am going to share the view that enchancement takes away the value of human willpower to overcome odds. Hopefully willpower is not encapsulated in a gene.

    Neurotechnology, nootropics and gene therapy are areas I briefly skimmed over and each area is full of incredibely interesting questions. Studies here can uncover so much knowledge about the risks of 'playing god'. So for the sake of curiosity and gaining better information about what we are dealing with, I fully support research efforts.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  5. Feb 19, 2007 #4

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    Are the existing enhancements to the caveman's life acceptable? Eyeglasses and prosthetics, vaccines, calculators and computers, books and maps, deodorant, perfume and cologne, fancy clothes and push-up bras? None of these are natural. They all act to enhance our life and increase our likelihood of passing on our genes to our progeny.

    We have been playing god ever since we invented clothing, fire, clubs, and stone axes. We are just a whole lot better at it now.

    Where do you draw the line?
  6. Feb 21, 2007 #5
    Should and should not are irrelevant. It will happen & the sense of morality will change to reflect the times. As it always has.
  7. Feb 21, 2007 #6
    I wouldn't consider that valid. By that reasoning, no one should eat. Anyway you won't get my reading glasses without a fight.
  8. Feb 22, 2007 #7
    ok the question really becomes how? what model and morality should society adhere to?
  9. Feb 22, 2007 #8


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    I think the fundamental point is that education should always be paramount. Information should be freely accessible, etc. Ignorance is never good. Lying to someone in order to help them is wrong and it should not be done.
  10. Sep 22, 2010 #9
    Sorry to resurrect this thread after 3 years but what do you mean when you say lying to someone in order to help them is wrong? I can think of a million cases in which lying to someone is necessary to help them..
  11. Sep 23, 2010 #10
    I think the debate ultimately begins and ends here... with the technology will come the desire to use it. We can only hope that we exercise restraint and adhere to best practices in medicine, and still seek to first, do no harm.
  12. Oct 3, 2010 #11
    Probably the issue of breast augmentation surgery vs. penis enlargement should have its own thread. The question is whether it's unfair to either men or women that breast enlargement is not only possible but common whereas penis enlargement is still experimental (as far as I know) and it is still taboo (maybe only in my perception but not others). Maybe sexual enhancement wasn't the main point of this thread, though.
  13. Oct 3, 2010 #12
    Penis enlargement seems very odd in the absence of micropenis or some similar issue. Breast enlargement is an unfortunate cultural phenomenon... men do not just like large breasts, proportionality is effected, and it's just a rough procedure however you look at it. I know a lot of guys who think they look great, but for myself, and at least as many guys, fake breasts (or enhanced... whatever) are either a turn-off (visually) or at least not a turn-on.

    I don't know how women feel about penile enlargement... is there an aesthetic there, or is it purely a functional issue? My gut says it's almost entirely for the benefit of the man's confidence, but that's a hell of a solution to that, no?

    Anyway, sexual enhancement definitely wasn't the point of the thread, BUT, it's by far the most common kind of surgical AND chemical enhancement out there, so it should be.
  14. Oct 3, 2010 #13

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    Not even close! Almost all children in the advanced world have their immunity artificially enhanced, for example. Another example, with some wikiscraping, about three times as many people undergo refractive eye surgery versus breast augmentation in the US.

    The original post was about human enchancement technologies, not necessarily surgery. I would consider my eyeglasses to be a rather necessary enhancement for me. The very purpose of medical science is to enhance human conditions and is chock-full of what I would call "human enhancement technologies".

    Clothing is yet another human enhancement technology. My winter clothes, for example, will come in handy in just a few months. While most women do not get breast augmentation surgery, lots of them do wear push up bras and the like. Those apparently do come in quite handy in reeling in the guys. We males also wear clothes to enhance our appearance. How is clothing not an example of a human enhancement technology?
  15. Oct 3, 2010 #14
    all i want to know is when is my brain getting an ethernet port, and will there be a danger of losing my ghost in the machine ?
  16. Oct 3, 2010 #15
    Well under this, the greatest human enhancement is probably iodine in salt, and fortified breads. I don't disagree with you at all, and I should have said "cosmetic surgeries" instead... my bad. I realize that this thread is more about what Proton Soup is talking about, but when think of a human enhancement, I'm not thinking about "cooking food" in the list. Enhancement is definitely in a surgical/chemical/technological context in this thread... even vaccines prompt the body to respond and are not persistent, which I think excludes it from this thread.

    Oh, I had no CLUE about the eye surgery however... I'm pleased, but surprised.
  17. Oct 3, 2010 #16
    Tastes and aesthetic preferences are as varied as appearances and body types itself. However, if you want to do some easy research into penis size preferences, all you have to do is read the personal ads on craigslist. These may not be representative per se' but there are certainly enough ads that express a desire for big(ger) ones. I can't believe I'm mentioning this in a physicsforum post but the fact is that it is relevant data and if you want to understand human behavior you can't shy away from the data because it's ridiculous or embarrassing.
  18. Oct 3, 2010 #17
    Oh my... has anyone noticed that the actual title of this thread is human "enchancement"? I think my magical items should count too. :tongue2:

    I don't know... it's one thing for a guy to lie on craigslist or be seeking a bigg'un... it's another to have surgery on your johnson!
  19. Oct 3, 2010 #18
    If people have elective surgery on their faces, breasts, body fat, stomachs, scalps, and breasts for cosmetic reasons, why not have penis-enlargement surgery. If, in fact, larger penises seem to be BOTH more attractive aesthetically and are more fulfilling functionally, such surgery might be even more sensible than a hair-transplant.

    The problem is that while breasts have a public aesthetic function, since their size/shape is visually apparent in most situations, penis size is really only visible/functional during sex or other situations that involve nudity, which for most people is limited, I assume. So while penis enlargements might provide a great deal of happiness to certain people in their very private lives, they wouldn't have the overall cultural effect that breast-augmentation has had since it has become popular.
  20. Oct 3, 2010 #19


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    Wow, I wasn't aware there was a cultural effect of breast augmentation! What is it?
  21. Oct 3, 2010 #20
    back to the OPs topic... I think that we are destined to get there considering how relatively fast our technology is evolving. I can imagine the future being gene manipulation and ultimately extending life by many many years. The problem that I see is that this will create a even larger gap between the rich and the poor, thus history will keep repeating itself. Even further down the line i can see we will all kill each other, then the roller coaster of humanity will start all over again from scratch.

    Gee if only we could all live like Gods how nice this world would be.
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