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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few valuable ideas near the end
This book starts out with relatively uninteresting articles and only the last quarter of so of it is worth reading.

Because I agree with most of the arguments for enhancement, I skipped some of the pro-enhancement arguments and tried to read the anti-enhancement arguments carefully. They mostly boil down to the claim that people's preference for natural things...
Published on July 10, 2009 by Peter McCluskey

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2.0 out of 5 stars A ho-hum not so scientific argument regarding human enhancement issues
I guess being a college philosophy text, it can argue the morality of what is already happening to any human that can afford to modify his or her mental or physical condition. I was not so much impressed with the reality of the issues the book implies but the fuel for science fiction is fabulous.
Published 3 months ago by Wade C. Quick


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few valuable ideas near the end, July 10, 2009
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This review is from: Human Enhancement (Hardcover)
This book starts out with relatively uninteresting articles and only the last quarter of so of it is worth reading.

Because I agree with most of the arguments for enhancement, I skipped some of the pro-enhancement arguments and tried to read the anti-enhancement arguments carefully. They mostly boil down to the claim that people's preference for natural things is sufficient to justify broad prohibitions on enhancing human bodies and human nature. That isn't enough of an argument to deserve as much discussion as it gets.

A few of the concerns discussed by advocates of enhancement are worth more thought. The question of whether unenhanced humans would retain political equality and rights enables us to imagine dystopian results of enhancement. Daniel Walker provides a partly correct analysis of conditions under which enhanced beings ought to paternalistically restrict the choices and political power of the unenhanced. But he's overly complacent about assuming the paternalists will have the interests of the unenhanced at heart. The biggest problem with paternalism to date is that it's done by people who are less thoughtful about the interests of the people they're controlling than they are about finding ways to serve their own self-interest. It is possible that enhanced beings will be perfect altruists, but it is far from being a natural consequence of enhancement.

The final chapter points out the risks of being overconfident of our ability to improve on nature. They describe questions we should ask about why evolution would have produced a result that is different from what we want. One example that they give suggests they remain overconfident - they repeat a standard claim about the human appendix being a result of evolution getting stuck in a local optimum. Recent evidence suggests that the appendix performs a valuable function in recovery from diarrhea (still a major cause of death in places) and harm from appendicitis seems rare outside of industrialized nations (maybe due to differences in dietary fiber?).

The most new and provocative ideas in the book have little to do with the medical enhancements that the title evokes. Robin Hanson's call for mechanisms to make people more truthful probably won't gather much support, as people are clever about finding objections to any specific method that would be effective. Still, asking the question the way he does may encourage some people to think more clearly about their goals.

Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg describe an interesting (original?) hypothesis about why placebos (sometimes) work. It involves signaling that there is relatively little need to conserve the body's resources for fighting future injuries and diseases. Could this understanding lead to insights about how to more directly and reliably trigger this effect? More effective placebos have been proposed. Why is it so unusual to ask about serious research into this subject?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why hasn't this book been more read, and more reviewed?, March 30, 2012
This review is from: Human Enhancement (Paperback)
I wonder why there are so few reviews of this book. Considering its importance for all of us it would seem to me that many more people should have taken interest in it. Is it because it is a book of academic papers and these tend to provide a great deal of jargon and difficult argument? Or is it perhaps because the whole subject is one which is somewhat difficult and even repulsive to a good share of mankind?
I don't know. I do know that the question raised of whether or not we actually know what human nature is in such a definitive way as to be able to enhance it seems to me theoretically overdone. We know enough about our powers to propose very specific 'enhancements' Bostrom speaks about the preference of most people for enhancements which are somehow seen as natural or more in accordance with our nature. He too and others speak about enhancements which might provide a certain risk.There are also questions raised in the book of the 'equality' issue and the kinds of privilege the 'enhanced' might have. It seems to me this book should be of interest to anyone who is concerned about what is presently happening to humanity. There are those who after all believe we will be at the point soon where 'artificial intelligences' somehow go beyond us, and in some way promise to replace us.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A ho-hum not so scientific argument regarding human enhancement issues, May 21, 2014
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Wade C. Quick (Traveling the USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Human Enhancement (Paperback)
I guess being a college philosophy text, it can argue the morality of what is already happening to any human that can afford to modify his or her mental or physical condition. I was not so much impressed with the reality of the issues the book implies but the fuel for science fiction is fabulous.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transhumanism, June 13, 2013
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This review is from: Human Enhancement (Paperback)
Very good collection of essays. I like the idea of contrasting ideas in a single book, and Savulescu does just that. Oh, and his is one of the excellent essays in this.
Anyone interested in the sociological, moral and technological implications of the merge of humans and machines should have a peek at these essays.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific read, August 20, 2013
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This review is from: Human Enhancement (Paperback)
Wonderful collection of writing about human enhancement--thoughtful and thought-provoking. Authors engage in a cross-chapter dialogue which is enjoyable. Great addition.
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Human Enhancement
Human Enhancement by Nick Bostrom (Paperback - January 7, 2011)
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