Will Cognitive enhancement increase or decrease dangers ?

Oxford University philosophers Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson worry that enabling people to become smarter via drugs, implants, and other biological (or genetic) interventions will speed up scientific and technological progress which in turn will increase the ability of smart evil people to make and deploy novel weapons of mass destruction.

The issue of advancing technology and the possibility of more powerful and dangerous weapons that can be developed and controlled by smaller groups of people has been discussed for decades.

The Oxford guys biggest fear is biological weapons.

They fear –

Genetic engineering of small pox could create a new strain which would wipe out all or most of humanity.

However, this is not a trend or technical development that would be greatly effected by near term cognitive enhancement.

Enhancement of intelligence with drugs or mind computer interfaces will have a limited impact on innovation and intellectual productivity.

Reason’s Ronald Bailey makes the case that technological and economic progress has reduced murders and violent deaths

The weapons of mass destruction have basically existed for decades. World war I had chemical and biological weapons. It does not take a greater than current human intelligence to repeat what was done with smaller groups.

What we need to do is to accelerate the development and remove regulatory impediments to new more universal vaccines and other immune system enhancements.

Improved space propulsion and launch systems and enhancement of systems like Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable space stations could enable within two to five decades significant space colonization.

Those developments and more like them will increase the robustness of individuals and society.

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