"Why invoke nanotechnology? Surely genetic engineering alone can abolish suffering?"
If the abolitionist project is to be complete, then it must embrace the rest of the living world. In terrestrial ecosystems, the higher vertebrates can be genetically redesigned by using foreseeable extensions of existing technologies. But pain and suffering will still fester in less accessible parts of the animal kingdom e.g. in the oceans. Fortunately, within a few centuries, our descendants will have the capacity to use self-replicating nanobots armed with supercomputing power to redesign the marine ecosystem. Today, needless to say, this sounds like the wildest science fantasy. But even if we rely only on extrapolation, not revolutionary conceptual and technical breakthroughs, then the implementation of the abolitionist program is still grounded in relatively well-understood science. The reason that the prospect of molecular hedonic engineering hasn't yet been explored by nanotechnology theorists is not that the technology involved is uniquely challenging. It's because tough-minded technocrats have different ends in mind.
In the present era, of course, it is hard to feel deeply exercised by the plight of marine invertebrates. We may feel that we have worries enough nearer home. But it is not pleasant to be eaten alive, even if one is a small mollusc. In paradise, it won't happen.
4.30 ..."pushy" parents will choose genotypes for children who are smart, driven and successful rather than happy... 4.31 ...persistence of "natural" reproducers with Darwinian genotypes means that suffering won't be abolished... 4.32 ...cosmic HI? Some pitfalls... 4.33 ...why stress gradients of well-being? Wouldn't permanent maximum bliss be ethically better...? 4.34 ...why the headlong rush? Let's wait until we have the wisdom to understand the implications of what we're doing... 4.35 ...the Simulation Argument suggests suffering can never be abolished...
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