Cognitive Enhancement

An article from The AtlanticAllen Buchanan interviewed about his recent book.

I think that any appeal to the notion of human nature, on either side of the enhancement debate, is tricky and problematic and has to be handled with care. Yes, in one sense we might say that it’s part of human nature to strive to improve our capacities. Humans have done this in the past by developing literacy and numeracy, and the institutions of science, and more recently we’ve done it with computers and the Internet. So, yes, if an alien were looking at humanity and asking “What is human nature?” one of the ingredients is going to be that these beings seem quite concerned with improving their capacities and they seem to have a knack for doing it.

On the other hand, sometimes people say that we shouldn’t engage with these technologies because we could somehow damage our nature or interfere with our nature, and in doing so they seem to have a kind of rosy pre-Darwinian view about human nature and about nature generally. They tend to think that an individual organism, a human being, is like the work of a master engineer—a delicately balanced, harmonious whole that’s the product of eons of exacting evolution.