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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What the Baseball Hall of Fame decision could mean for the Singularity

Case in point: the ongoing scandal over alleged performance-enhancing drug use by some of baseball’s greatest players that has torn apart followers of the national pastime. This year marked the first time since 1996 that not a single player was selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite having some of the biggest names in the history of baseball up for nomination. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa — all first-ballot candidates, all suspected steroid users, all de-nied. Baseball fans expected a tough time of it for the likes of Bonds and Clemens, but a complete shutout of people suspected of cheating but never confirmed - such as Mike Piazza - was completely unexpected. It was society’s way of saying that we want to pay to see incredible athletic performance on the playing field, but it still has to conform to specific notions of “fair.”

Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: January 15, 2013 at 05:23 PM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: kurzweil, peds, singularity, steroids, techno ethics, technology, the future

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   1. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 15, 2013 at 06:49 PM (#4347859)
From BP:

“Guys have always been cheating. Period. ... I'm just glad they didn't have steroids when I was playing. I'm not sure what I would have done."

—Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, in 2009. This quote was recycled by HOF voter Jeff Fletcher, who claims that he’s “not going to try to retroactively clean up a sport that showed no interest in keeping itself clean.” (Jeff Fletcher, Orange County Register)
   2. Bhaakon Posted: January 15, 2013 at 07:49 PM (#4347877)
It doesn't mean anything that wasn't revealed by huge global controversy over genetic manipulation, cloning, and high hurdles required to conduct human medical experimentation. Human augmentation was always going to be contentious
   3. Morty Causa Posted: January 15, 2013 at 07:54 PM (#4347879)
In some places. Other places not so much:

Not all peoples are squeamish about eugnenics
   4. jdennis Posted: January 15, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4347923)
that author is ignoring socioeconomic factors. only rich families will be able to do that genetic stuff, and being rich is mostly luck, not merit. grades and standardized test scores in school are already more closely correlated to income than iq, especially at the high end. such controlled breeding and genetic manipulation is only going to exacerbate a lot of the socioeconomic inequalities we complain about and given our challenges over the next century that would be very bad. and what about the definition of intelligence? i can cite a myriad of flaws with iq tests and all sorts of other intelligence measures, not to mention their inherent bias in defining intelligence and utility of intellect.
   5. Dale Sams Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:46 AM (#4347969)
I am surprised
how little improvement there has been in human evolution.
Oh, there has been technical advancement,
but, uh,
how little man himself has changed
-Khan Noonian Singh
   6. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 16, 2013 at 01:58 AM (#4347970)
There's virtually no chance that genetic modification of humans is ever legal in Western countries except to fix detectable disabilities. We'll be lucky if we're allowed to use it for that. It's unfortunate but true, because in democracy the ignorant majority rule. Equally sadly, part of the reason it will be illegal is that if it was legal, there would be a great deal of social pressure for insurance companies to be forced by law to cover it, for precisely the economic reasons jdennis mentions. So the insurance lobby will make sure it's illegal.

Of course, it's also the case that humans presumably are already breeding for intelligence quite effectively at the top end of things, because the intelligent tend to breed with the intelligent. That, unfortunately, does nothing to raise the overall standard (it might help the most intelligent become more intelligent, but that's probably the result of the resulting nurture rather than the underlying nature).

(Another problem is that in the West, the intelligent are increasingly often not reproducing at all, because they realize what a difficult economic proposition it is.)
   7. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: January 16, 2013 at 08:12 AM (#4347993)
because the intelligent tend to breed with the intelligent


You are assuming that intelligence breeding works this way. For example it could easily be the case that more intelligent people breeding leeds to more children on the autism spectrum and other such consequences rahter than just purely more intelligent children.

And no I am not suggesting autistic children are unintelligent (my eldest is on the spectrum), but he is not the forerunner of the genetically perfect super intelligent either.

What I am saying is the mind is a complex system and I don't think intelligence (as we understand it today) is any kind of simple linear thing to be bred for like eye color.
   8. Rickey! the first of his name Posted: January 16, 2013 at 08:24 AM (#4347998)
It was society’s way of saying that we want to pay to see incredible athletic performance on the playing field, but it still has to conform to specific notions of “fair.”


Work out hard, rub some HGH creme on your legs to aid recovery: "unfair"
Have a surgeon physically remove a tendon from your knee and place it in your throwing elbow: "fair"
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 16, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4348043)
Obviously we're all growing more and more trans-human without even knowing it, and this is an interesting development.

At the same time, my experience is that 95% of people who talk about "the singularity" are creepy dudes who seem mostly driven by the idea that in the future they'll get a blowjob from Seven of Nine.
   10. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: January 16, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4348139)
Not all peoples are squeamish about eugnenics


There have been claims that Yao Ming is the result of a crude eugenics program.

There's virtually no chance that genetic modification of humans is ever legal in Western countries except to fix detectable disabilities. We'll be lucky if we're allowed to use it for that. It's unfortunate but true, because in democracy the ignorant majority rule. Equally sadly, part of the reason it will be illegal is that if it was legal, there would be a great deal of social pressure for insurance companies to be forced by law to cover it, for precisely the economic reasons jdennis mentions. So the insurance lobby will make sure it's illegal.


Voluntary euthanasia is legal in a few countries, and that's something that is often shocking to the masses. With GM all it takes is for one first world nation to make it legal for it to become something the superrich can take advantage of. And if we're talking about modifying human eggs and sperm so as to produce superbabies, it only means two weeks Liechtenstein while the samples are taken, the gene work is done, and the egg is implanted. Then it's jut a normal pregnancy and childbirth.

I think the real problem is an extension of what Bitter Mouse alluded to, the fact that the Human Genome Project has taught us that the action of genes is a lot more complicated than we thought. This will be especially true in a system as complex as the brain, where small changes can have huge cascading effects that we really don't understand and can't easily predict. For a long time the "superbabies" will be ones born without relatively simple negative gene expressions -- the genes for Downs Syndrome, things like that.

The other issue that we'll have is that it will be almost impossible to do experiments that would lead to improving human intelligence through genetic manipulation. The animal models don't work so well because the brain is such a complex system. And if you work on a human and screw up, you've suddenly become Josef Mengele.

I don't think about this stuff very often, but I wouldn't turn down a blowjob from Seven of Nine.

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