The ethics of upgrading your brain with implants


Originally published at:


I mean, can you imagine a society in which poor people have to struggle to afford pills that rich people can take for granted? What a crazy dystopian world THAT would be!


I’ve actually given this a lot of thought, and I’ve reached the reluctant conclusion that there is absolutely no ethical justification for altering one’s natural neurological proc

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which is why I’m absolutely in favor of this. There is absolutely no argument against it that I can see.


Be as smart as you can afford. Is this any different than colleges today?


I think Charlie Stross said it best. When he was younger he wanted to be the first person on his block with a brain implant. Now he wants to be the first person on his block with a brain firewall. [paraphrasing, but pretty close]


Yes, because now it’s more like be as well connected and prestigious sounding as you can afford. You can GET most of the same education for way cheaper, but nobody in HR cares if they don’t know the school, and your network won’t help much.

On the other hand, if you get the beta versions of this, you can get as much traumatic brain injury as most college football players, so there’s that.


My 3 implants consist of whiskey, weed, and coffee, not necessarily in that order, and often all 3 at once.


[Inserts thumb in suspender] “Welp, there ain’t no Free Will. That’s fer sure.”


Who needs nootropics when the good stuff is so available? :smiley:


Also, I started on a new prescription yesterday. They cost me $40 for a two month supply.

This is the US pricing:


Sure! Though, I think I’ll wait until the third or fourth patch cycle of at least version 2.1. Just, you know version 0.9 is going to be buggy. Like you’re going to be super smart for 4 hours a day, but well under average for the other 20 or version 0.8 is when you are super smart ever other minute. Or something equally odd/debilitating.


You’re made of firmer stuff that I. I require at least a half hour and preferably an hour separation between hard liquor and cannabis.


You don’t need implants just more intake valves!


I just want a set of Culture glands.


Poor people can still afford a pretty powerful electro magnet.


That’s some nifty artwork there, on the top of the page, @beschizza


Intellectual enhancement would be good for the lower half of the bell curve, for people who are generally hindered by their lack of intelligence, and make stupid mistakes that they make their lives worse.
People with good life outcomes tend to be smart but not super geniuses. Giving these people more intelligence might allow them to solve problems that less intelligent people can’t solve, but that might not be an advantage unless you care about solving deep problems.
Super geniuses tend to toil away at something very specialized. Everyone benefits from their work, and having more of those people would be a very good thing. Or if we could make them even smarter, they would come up with more interesting solutions to the hard problems facing our society.

This seems like an oddly conservative view of the potential impact of this class of technologies, coming from the Future of Humanity Institute. It feels like a society of seven billion IQ 160 individuals would be a really different place than the Earth as it is now. And that assumes the average stays within the realm of what current unenhanced humans occasionally achieve. Obviously Gen 1 neurotech won’t be able to do that, but Sandberg’s job is about long-term impact of technology.


Larry Niven and Steve Barnes’ Saturn’s Race deals with this and the medical/ethical class-warfare implications.


Hold my beer


In future A.I. Utopia voting booth votes you.