||Nanoethics and Human Enhancement
Radical nanotech-based human enhancements such as bionic implants and "respirocyte" artificial red blood cells will become technologically viable in the near future, raising profound ethical issues and forcing us to rethink what it means to be human. Recent pro-enhancement arguments will need to be critically examined and strengthened if they are to be convincing.
Originally published in Nanotechnology
Perceptions: A Review of Ultraprecision Engineering and Nanotechnology,
Volume 2, No. 1, March 27 2006. Reprinted with permission on KurzweilAI.net
March 31, 2006.
Human enhancement—our ability to use technology to enhance
our bodies and minds, as opposed to its application for therapeutic
purposes—is a critical issue facing nanotechnology. It will
be involved in some of the near-term applications of nanotechnology,
with such research labs as MIT's Institute for Soldier Technologies
working on exoskeletons and other innovations that increase human
strength and capabilities. It is also a core issue related to far-term
predictions in nanotechnology, such as longevity, nanomedicine,
artificial intelligence and other issues.
The implications of nanotechnology as related to human enhancement
are perhaps some of the most personal and therefore passionate issues
in the emerging field of nanoethics, forcing us to rethink what
it means to be human or, essentially, our own identity. For some,
nanotechnology holds the promise of making us superhuman; for others,
it offers a darker path toward becoming Frankenstein's monster.
Without advocating any particular side of the debate, this essay
will look at a growing chorus of calls for human enhancement, especially
in the context of emerging technologies, to be embraced and unrestricted.
We will critically examine recent "pro-enhancement" arguments—articulated
in More Than Human (2005) by Ramez Naam1,
as one of the most visible works on the subject today—and conclude
that they ultimately need to be repaired, if they are to be convincing.
Before we proceed, we should lay out a few actual and possible
scenarios in order to be clear on what we mean by "human enhancement."
In addition to steroid use to become stronger and plastic surgery
to become more attractive, people today also use drugs to boost
creativity, attentiveness, perception, and more. In the future,
nanotechnology might give us implants that enable us to see in the
dark, or in currently non-visible spectrums such as infrared. As
artificial intelligence advances, nano-computers might be imbedded
into our bodies in order to help process more information faster,
even to the point where man and machine become indistinguishable.
These scenarios admittedly sound like science fiction, but with
nanotechnology, we move much closer to turning them into reality.
Atomically-precise manufacturing techniques continue to become more
refined and will be able to build cellular-level sensors and other
tools that can be integrated into our bodies. Indeed, designs have
already been worked out for such innovations as a "respirocyte"—an
artificial red blood cell that holds a reservoir of oxygen.2
A respirocyte would come in handy for, say, a heart attack victim
to continue breathing for an extra hour until medical treatment
is available, despite a lack of blood circulation to the lungs or
anywhere else. But in an otherwise-healthy athlete, a respirocyte
could boost performance by delivering extra oxygen to the muscles,
as if the person were breathing from a pure oxygen tank.
What we do not mean by "human enhancement" is the mere use of tools,
such as a hammer or Microsoft Word, to aid human activities, or
"natural" improvements of diet and exercise—though, as we shall
discuss later, agreeing on a definition may not be a simple matter.
Further, we must distinguish the concept from therapeutic applications,
such as using steroids to treat any number of medical conditions,
which we take to be unobjectionable for the purposes of this essay.
Also, our discussion here can benefit from quickly noting some
of the intuitions on both sides of the debate. The anti-enhancement
camp may point to steroids in sports as an argument for regulating
technology: that it corrupts the notion of fair competition. Also,
some say, by condoning enhancement we are setting the wrong example
for our children, encouraging risky behavior in bodies that are
still developing. "Human dignity" is also a recurring theme for
this side, believing that such enhancements pervert the notion of
what it means to be human (with all our flaws).
On the pro-enhancement side, it seems obvious that the desire for
self-improvement is morally laudable. Attempts to improve ourselves
through, for example, education, hard work, and so on are uncontroversially
good; why should technology-based enhancements be viewed any differently?
In addition to virtue-based defenses of technological enhancement,
we might also appeal to individual autonomy to defend the practice:
so long as rational, autonomous individuals freely choose to participate
in these projects, intervention against them is morally problematic.
In More Than Human, it is interesting to see that the debate
is framed as a conservative (anti-enhancement) versus liberal (pro-enhancement)
issue3. This proposed
dichotomy is undoubtedly influenced by the creation and work of
the U.S. President's Council on Bioethics. Led by Leon Kass, M.D.,
PhD, the council released a report, Beyond Therapy, in 2004
that endorsed an anti-enhancement position; this report has become
the prime target for both liberals and pro-enhancement groups. However,
it would be a mistake to think that the issue necessarily follows
political lines, since there may be good reason for a liberal to
be anti-enhancement, as well as for a conservative to support it.
In his introductory chapter, Naam outlines the overarching theme
that is supported by his research and analysis in subsequent chapters.
He offers four distinct arguments in defending the pro-enhancement
position: first, there are pragmatic reasons for embracing enhancement;
second, regulation will not work anyway; third, respect for our
autonomy licenses the practices; and, fourth, that the desire to
enhance is inherently human and therefore must be respected.
1. In his first argument, Naam points out that "scientists
cannot draw a clear line between healing and enhancing."4
The implied conclusion here is that, if no principled distinction
can be made between two concepts, it is irrational to afford them
different moral status. So, since there are no restrictions on therapy,
in that we have a right to medical aid, there also should be no
restrictions on human enhancement, i.e. using the same medical
devices or procedures to improve our already-healthy bodies. In
other words, there is no significant or moral difference between
therapy and enhancement.
There are numerous problems with such a claim; we will herein elucidate
two. The first problem can be illustrated by the famous philosophical
puzzle called "The Paradox of the Heap": given a heap of sand with
N number of grains of sand, if we remove one grain of sand, we are
still left with a heap of sand (that now only has N-1 grains of
sand). If we remove one more grain, we are again left with a heap
of sand (that now has N-2 grains). If we extend this line of reasoning
and continue to remove grains of sand, we see that there is no clear
point where we can definitely say that on side A, here is a heap
of sand, but on the side B, this is less than a heap. In other words,
there is no clear distinction between a heap of sand and a less-than-a-heap
or even no sand at all. However, the wrong conclusion to draw here
is that there is no difference between them; so likewise, it would
be fallacious to conclude that there is no difference between
therapy and enhancement. It may still be the case that there is
no moral difference between the two, but we cannot arrive
at it through the argument that there is no clear defining line.
But, second, there likely are principled distinctions that
can be made between enhancement and therapy.5
For example, Norm Daniels has argued for the use of "quasi-statistical
concepts of 'normality' to argue that any intervention designed
to restore or preserve a species-typical level of functioning for
an individual should count as [therapy]"6
and the rest as enhancement. Alternatively, Eric Juengst has proposed
that therapies aim at pathologies which compromise health, whereas
enhancements aim at improvements that are not health-related.7
Another pragmatic reason Naam gives is that "we cannot stop research
into enhancing ourselves without also halting research focused on
healing the sick and injured."8
However, this claim seems to miss the point: anti-enhancement advocates
can simply counter that it is not the research they want stopped
or regulated, but rather the use of that research or its products
for enhancement. For instance, we may want to ban steroids from
sports, but no one is calling for an outright ban on all steroids
research, much of which serves healing purposes.
Naam also puts the burden of proof—that regulation of enhancement
is needed—on the anti-enhancement side, instead of offering
an argument that enhancement need not be regulated.9
But it is unclear here why we should abandon the principle of erring
on the side of caution, particularly where human health may be at
stake as well as other societal impacts. Further, both sides have
already identified a list of benefits or harms that might arise
from unregulated human enhancement. The problem now is to evaluate
these benefits and harms against each other (e.g., increased
longevity versus overpopulation), also factoring in any relevant
human rights. If neither side is able to convincingly show that
benefits outweigh harms, or vice versa, then burden of proof seems
to be a non-issue.
2. In his second argument, Naam compares a ban on enhancement
to the U.S. "War on Drugs," citing its ineffectiveness as well as
externalities such as artificially high prices and increased safety
risks (e.g., users having to share needles because they cannot
obtain new or clean ones) for those who will use drugs anyway.10
If people are as avidly driven to enhancement as they are to drugs,
then yes, this may be the case. But is that a good enough reason
to not even try to contain a problem, whether it is drugs, prostitution,
gambling, or whatever? While such laws may be paternalistic, they
reflect the majority consensus that a significant number of people
cannot act responsibly in these activities and need to be protected
from themselves and from inevitably harming others. Even many liberals
are not categorically opposed to these regulations and may see the
rationale of "greater good" behind similar regulation of enhancement.
Further, that we are unable to totally stop an activity does not
seem to be reason at all against prohibiting that activity. If it
were, then we would not have any laws against murder, speeding,
"illegal" immigration—in fact, it is unclear what laws we would
have left. Laws exist precisely because some people inescapably
have tendencies to the opposite of what is desired by society or
government. Again, this is not to say that human enhancement should
be prohibited, only that a stronger and more compelling argument
3. In his third argument, Naam ties human enhancement to
the debate over human freedom: "Should individuals and families
have the right to alter their own minds and bodies, or should that
power be held by the state? In a democratic society, it's every
man and woman who should determine such things, not the state...Governments
are instituted to secure individual rights, not to restrict them."11
Besides politicizing a debate that need not be political, Naam's
arguments are increasingly not anti-conservative but pro-libertarian.
You would need to have already adopted the libertarian philosophy
to accept this line of reasoning (as well as the preceding argument),
since again, even liberals can see that the state has a broader
role in creating a functioning, orderly society. This necessarily
entails reasonable limits to whatever natural rights we have and
also implies new responsibilities—for example, we shouldn't
exercise our right to free speech by slandering or by yelling "Fire!"
in a crowded theater.
A democratic society is not compelled to endorse laissez-faire
political philosophy and the minimal state, as some political philosophers
Nor would reasonable people necessarily want unrestricted freedom,
e.g. no restrictions or background checks for gun ownership.
Even in a democracy as liberal as ours in the United States, we
understand the value of regulations as a way to enhance our freedom.
For instance, our economic system is not truly a "free market"—though
we advocate freedom in general, regulations exist not only to protect
our rights, but also to create an orderly process that greases the
economic wheel, accelerating both innovations and transactions.
As a simpler example, by disciplining a dog to obey commands and
not run around unchecked, we actually increase that pet's freedom
by now being able to take him or her on more walks and perhaps without
a leash (not to compare people with dogs or laws with behavioral
4. Finally, Naam argues that people have been enhancing
themselves from the start: "Far from being unnatural, the drive
to alter and improve on ourselves is a fundamental part of who we
humans are. As a species we've always looked for ways to be faster,
stronger, and smarter and to live longer."13
This seems to be an accurate observation, but it is an argumentative
leap from this fact about the world, which is descriptive, to a
moral conclusion about the world, which is normative. Or, as the
philosophical saying goes, we cannot derive "ought" from "is," meaning
just because something is a certain way doesn't mean it should be
that way or must continue to be that way. For instance, would the
fact that we have engaged in wars—or slavery, or intolerance—across
the entire history of civilization imply that we should continue
with those activities?
More seriously, this argument seems to turn on an overly-broad
definition of "human enhancement," such that it includes the use
of tools, diet, exercise, and so on—or what we would intuitively
call "natural" improvement. An objection to Naam's first argument
also applies here: just because we cannot clearly delineate between
enhancement and therapy or tool-use does not mean there is no line
between them. We understand that steroid use by baseball players
is a case of human enhancement; we also understand that using a
rock to crack open a clam is not. Still, the fact that we have not
arrived at a clear definition of "human enhancement" should not
prevent us from using intuitive distinctions to meaningfully discuss
The point here is not that human enhancement should be restricted.
It is simply that current arguments need to be more compelling and
philosophically rigorous, if the pro-enhancement side is to be successful.
There is admittedly a strong intuition driving the pro-enhancement
movement, but it needs to be articulated more fully, resulting in
an argument something like the following:
Who we are now seems to be a product of nature and nurture, most
of which is beyond our control. So, if this genetic-environmental
lottery is truly random, then why should we be constrained to its
results? After all, we've never agreed to such a process in the
first place. Why not enhance ourselves to be on par with the capabilities
of others? And if that is morally permissible, then why not go a
little—or a lot—beyond the capabilities of others?
As suggested in the above analysis, one of the first steps in discussing
human enhancement is to arrive at a better definition of what it
is, perhaps by adopting that used by Daniels or Juengst, though
these are still tough issues. For instance, does it matter whether
enhancements are worn outside our bodies as opposed to being implanted?
Why should carrying around a Pocket PC or binoculars be acceptable,
but having a computer or a "bionic eye" implanted in our bodies
be subject to possible regulation—what is the moral difference
between the two?
Further, there are societal and ethical implications that also
need to be considered, apart from those already mentioned. Before
we too quickly dismiss the idea of "human dignity" as romanticized
and outdated, we need to give it full consideration and ask whether
that concept would suffer if human enhancement were unrestricted.
Is there an obligation to enhance our children, or will parents
feel pressure to do so? Might there be an "Enhancement Divide,"
similar to the Digital Divide, that significantly disadvantages
those without? If some people can interact with the world in ways
that are unimaginable to others (such as echolocation or seeing
in infrared), will that create a further "Communication Divide"
such that people no longer share the same basic experiences in order
to communicate with each other?
In this essay, we have tried to detail some of the challenges that
nanotechnology and nanoethics will confront as applications to human
enhancement become technologically viable. This will not be in the
distant future, but rather sooner than many of us might have expected.
It seems to the authors that a balanced and reasonable perspective
is more appropriate than either polarizing extreme, if we are to
responsibly and productively advance nanotechnology and its applications,
particularly in light of the challenges to the pro-enhancement position
that we have described.
1. Ramez Naam, More Than
Human (Broadway Books, New York: 2005). See also www.morethanhuman.org.
2. Robert A. Freitas Jr., "Exploratory
Design in Medical Nanotechnology: A Mechanical Artificial Red Cell,"
Artificial Cells, Blood Substitutes, and Immobil. Biotech.
3. Naam (2005), pp.3-5.
4. Naam (2005), p.5.
5. For more discussion of these
ideas, see Fritz Allhoff, "Germ-Line Genetic Enhancement and Rawlsian
Primary Goods," Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journals 15.1
6. Norm Daniels, "Growth Hormone
Therapy for Short Stature: Can We Support the Treatment/Enhancement
Distinction?," Growth: Genetics & Hormones 8.S1 (1992):
7. Eric Juengst, "Can Enhancement
Be Distinguished from Prevention in Genetic Medicine?," Journal
of Medicine and Philosophy 22 (1997): 125-42.
8. Naam (2005), p.5.
9. Naam (2005), p.5.
10. Naam (2005), p.6.
11. Naam (2005), p.6-9.
12. See, for example, Robert
Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books,
13. Naam (2005), p.9.
© 2006 Patrick Lin and Fritz Allhoff.
Mind·X Discussion About This Article:
Hi Patrick and Fritz
My two cents worth on your excellent article on some of the ethics of enhancement. To briefly summarize your position you indicate the following rationales for enhancement by Naam
' Healing and enhancement there is no difference
' Ban is ineffective so keep doing it
' Right to chose is with the individual
' We have always done it
You then move in part III to attempt to put more moral force behind the pro-enhancement argument. Which I hope I summarise correctly as; because being born is not our fault we have right therefore to tinker with ourselves. You then go on to say, "The point here is not that human enhancement should be restricted. It is simply that current arguments need to be more compelling and philosophically rigorous, if the pro-enhancement side is to be successful."
You write in your essay as if it is the pro-enhancement side that needs to do the work. It seems to me it is the other way round. Unfortunately the move towards greater enhancement is the status quo. It many ways it does not need to argue it side it is just happening. If you can't get here you can go to Asia and get it even cheaper. This will continue to be the case. Our drives towards mastery (call it narcissism if you will) or a drive towards safety pushes us in this direction. The most moral of us will still have a seduction in this direction. It is part of who we are as human beings. Much of this has been written about in both Sandel's paper and a series of responses to it in the American Journal of Bioethics last year
It is the anti enhancers that need to find good arguments for not doing this or for limiting to this. It is hard to find a saleable argument against the slogan of "look better, feel better, be stronger, think better". I have left happiness off of the slogan as there is no evidence than any of the parts of the slogan will necessarily make people feel happier.
With the coming of molecular manufacturing as well as the more imminent coming of robotics one likely scenarios is that significant amount of the population will no longer work or need to work. Robots will do most of it and molecular manufacturing will provide cheap or free basics. The bottom part of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is fulfilled.
This will lead to a shift that may allow people to look for more psychological satisfactions in their lives. What is living forever without achievement, satisfaction, happiness and love. When everyone is beautiful buff and brainy how do you stand out in a crowd. Enhancement will not bring happiness. This is clear from the existing research on the lack of correlation between happiness and money (unless you earn under $8000).
This in my view is the false argument inherent in pro-enhancement. It will make me happier. Maybe this is the one argument against enhancement is that it does not satisfy many of our basic psychological needs. I do not believe we can put many curbs on enhancement, just look at our feeble attempts to stop doping and drugging at the Olympics, enhancement is often at least one step of detection. Body building is so rife with enhancement that they now ho9ld competitions for the enhanced and non-enhanced. Market forces alone will drive enhancement against the best of our moral arguments.
The question for me then becomes given it is and will continue to happen, what do we do to make it safer and how do we curb its excesses. Essentially from a societal view to treat it as a legal drug. At the same time we need to highlight that one still has to find purpose in life even when one is rich, famous and beautiful as we will all be.
My argument is that we have de facto accepted enhancement as part of our society or can realistically do nothing about its continued implementation.
Given this then the ethics become more about its use in our society. This would include
' The ethics of distribution i.e. who gets it and who has access to it
' The ethics of implementation, which raises questions such as how much is to much enhancement, choices about enhancement of others such as babies at birth
' The ethics of safety
All of this aside, as much as I try to make happiness a value in my life I still can't wait to get that chip in my head and wire up to the universe. We are a fickle lot.
Psychology and the Singularity
The Case Against Perfection: What's wrong with designer children, bionic athletes, and genetic engineering, Michael J. Sandel http://jrichardstevens.com/articles/sandel-genetic s.pdf
American Journal of Bioethics Taylor & Francis Volume 5, Number 3 / May-June 2005
Re: Nanoethics and Human Enhancement
Patrick Lin and Fritz Allhoff's stimulating essay attempts to shift the burden of proof (that no regulation is required) to the pro-enhancement side. The burden of proof is by default, as Chris Allen points out, the other way around. This ordering is also demanded by the moral principles upon which human freedoms rest. In the U.S. 'we hold these truths to be self evident.'
Yes, there are restrictions on some freedoms and these ultimately derive from the principle that the freedom of action of the individual is only tenable when it respects the mutual freedom of action of all individuals. And these restrictions come about when there is clear evidence that the action in question violates the principle of mutual freedom.
It is the burden of legislators to show that the action of enhancement itself violates the principle of mutual freedom. Failing that, they might try to show that certain enhancements lead inexorably or have no other purpose than to support actions that violate the principle and then place restrictions on only those enhancements.
You don't have to be a Libertarian to see the logic that in a country founded upon the basic principle that man has certain inalienable rights (including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), that the burden is upon those who would restrict those rights to show beyond a doubt that the actions to be restricted cause harm to others.
So let us turn to the question of how others, i.e. non-enhancers, will be harmed or have their inalienable rights infringed by enhancers. Existing laws already handle the case where an enhanced person uses an enhancement (say heat ray vision) to attack another person. This is handled by the same laws that handle attacking another person with a hammer, or fists. What remains is indirect harm which Lin and Allhoff address in their supposition of the rise of an enhanced/non-enhanced divide akin to the so called digital divide of the information age.
Fears about such a divide are based in a zero-sum game paradigm of survival. In other words, if enhanced humans can always beat me in the competition for limited jobs then I will starve and die. But life in society is not a zero-sum game. The better we humans get at producing, the more we produce, for everyone ' and the more jobs open up in fields that require human creativity and artistic expression. History has shown time and again that new technology eventually elevates the living condition of all humans.
However new technologies can temporarily cause hardship when they replace the need for human labor. During these dislocations the way in which goods are distributed in society demands that displaced workers find something else to do to benefit their fellow man or'find a bread line. Their will be no shortage of bread, at least.
This brings me to the issues that Chris Allen raised about the 'ethics of distribution'. Allen's highlighting of this issue presupposes that something other than normal market forces should determine or have a hand in the distribution of enhancement technology. Again, the burden of proof that anything but market forces should determine distribution lies with those who wish to interfere in the market for similar reasons to those stated above as to why the burden of proof for enhancement regulation lies with anti-enhancers.
Thank you, Patrick and Fritz, for your provocative essay and thank you, Chris, for your insightful analysis.
Re: Nanoethics and Human Enhancement
As the co-author of the paper in question, thanks for your thoughtful comments, Chris and John. I just saw your posts and want to think about them more before I post a substantive response here. But in the meantime, if you're interested, I had posted some comments last week on this blog: http://bioethicsdiscussion.blogspot.com/2006/03/hu man-enhancement-through.html
One quick thought, however, is that when it comes to these discussions (as opposed to, say, an IRS audit or a lawsuit), there's something intellectually-suspect about assigning burden of proof on only one side. I would hold both sides up to the same standard of offering a defensible, positive argument for their position, rather than relying on tearing down the opposition's. So if the pro-enhance side really is defensible, then there should be some kind of proactive argument for it, no?
Anyway, more thoughts to come, so please stay tuned!
Re: Nanoethics and Human Enhancement
"This necessarily entails reasonable limits to whatever natural rights we have and also implies new responsibilities'for example, we shouldn't exercise our right to free speech by slandering or by yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater."
First, freedom of speech -- the 1st amendment -- is a limit on government power, not individuals. That said, damage can be done by speech; defamation of character. Yelling FIRE! in a crowded theater creates an immediate threat. Both cause harm to persons; violates their inalienable right to life and property.
"Nor would reasonable people necessarily want unrestricted freedom, e.g. no restrictions or background checks for gun ownership."
Back ground checks for gun ownership are a relatively recent regulation. Criminals that don't obey the law don't buy registered guns or go though back ground checks. Ending the supply of black-market guns is as improbable as eliminating alcohol during prohibition or eliminating illicit drugs by the War on some Drugs. Vermont has no background check and it's not the "wild west, blood in the streets" that was the talking points used to persuade people that background checks would be effective at reducing crime. Where do "reasonable" people get their information that you deem them 'reasonable'? More in a minute.
"As a simpler example, by disciplining a dog to obey commands and not run around unchecked, we actually increase that pet's freedom by now being able to take him or her on more walks and perhaps without a leash (not to compare people with dogs or laws with behavioral conditioning).
That's analogous to why traffic laws are effective. It gives drivers operating heavy machinery a reasonable expectation of what other vehicles are doing. Will that car stop at the intersection; what speed is the traffic I'm pulling into; in a traffic circle who has the right of way, and etc.? The intent is to have an orderly flow of potentially dangerous, heavy machinery from each other (drivers) and pedestrians.
How technology advancing exponentially will effect politics, politicians and bureaucrats.
People are fundamentally honest. The vast majority of people, probably 98+% don't commit theft, assault, rape murder or threat's thereof. Objective laws prohibit those acts. Good thing too, else wise we'd be living in anarchy and chaos.
The reason a vast majority of people don't commit those crimes is not because they're against the law. But because they abide the golden rule; do unto others as you would have others do unto you; mind your business and I'll mind mine.
The federal government creates an average 3,000 new laws and regulations each year. Each state creates about a third as many. Excluding traffic laws, almost every person breaks the law several times a year. That's massive, widespread crime. Each new law and regulation is proposed by politicians and bureaucrats as a must-have, necessary law, to protect people and society from harming themselves and or others and society. There's a reason members of congress are often called lawmakers.
Such anarchy. Such chaos. I don't think so.
Despite the encompassing lawlessness persons and society have not self-destructed or collapsed. Instead, persons and society have increasingly prospered. That certainly isn't anarchy or chaos. Those laws being broken are political agenda laws.
For example, how is it that persons and society of decades past increasingly prospered without the forthcoming laws. How is it that persons and society of today increasingly prosper without the supposed benefit of new laws yet to come next year, three years and fifteen years into the future?
Does a reasonable person believe that individuals and society are in a constant state of being precariously perched on a cliff-edge just one step away from self-destruction, awaiting being saved by politicians bureaucrats with their next new, must-have necessary law?
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.' ' Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Two examples of increasing chaos. The income tax is chaos. The solution is a national retail sales tax. Particularly the FairTax.
Drug prohibition is chaos. The government gave violent criminals and organized crime control of certain drugs. Lack of quality control increases overdose deaths; sales to minors and facilitates a violent black market where an open free market would end that violence.
If it was physically possible to apprehend every lawbreaker next week, the economy and society would come to a screeching halt. There's already anarchy (massive lawlessness), might as well have chaos to go with it?
Thomas Jefferson wasn't perfect -- nobody is. But he was spot on target with this:
"No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him." --Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816.
Incrementalism moves toward chaos. How much incrementalism is just the right amount? What is the destination of incrementalism? What constitutes or defines a reasonable person?
A reasonable person doesn't commit theft, assault, rape murder or threat's thereof. A reasonable person doesn't initiate force, threat of force or fraud against any person or their property.
Politicians and bureaucrats won't be able to keep up much longer. Certainly not using lies, spin and deceptions -- irrationalities -- they've relied on for several decades. Oversight groups within organizations like the Foresight Institute, the Lifeboat Foundation and other futurist orgs know this and have been researching, developing and implementing plans to assist government officials in the transition. The transition from irrational to rational.
Government officials have over regulated almost every field and industry. There's no way they'll be able to keep up with exponential advancing technology. Increasingly more industries and technologies will have oversight and regulation from within each respective industry. And or Underwriter's Laboratory type businesses. Leaving government to increasingly narrow its focus to its primary responsibility -- protecting the citizens' life and property from the initiation of force, threat of force and fraud.
Government will have little if any time or purpose to regulate human enhancement technologies. Exponential advancing technology also applies to making the most effective form of government. That too will occur with speed beyond what linear thinking would comprehend.