Brain Health,
Sci + Society,

#009: Philosopher David Pearce Talks Transhumanism

March 10, 2013

In this week’s episode, Jesse catches up with philosopher David Pearce, the well-versed co-founder of the World Transhumanist Association. David specializes in examining what humans can and should be doing in today’s “post Darwinian era” where the species’ evolution is no longer driven by survival of the fittest.  As a utilitarian thinker, he presents his views on the progression of intelligence, longevity and happiness among humans and the world as a whole.

Reset Your Treadmill of Happiness

One of David’s ultimate goals is to recalibrate our Hedonic Treadmill so that the average level of enjoyment and happiness is much higher in the future than in the general population today. The concept of the Hedonic Treadmill boils down to the fact that humans tend to quickly return to a normal level of happiness, regardless of impactful events in one’s life.

The direct outcome of elevating a single person’s Hedonic Set Point or level of happiness could improve that person’s quality of life, productivity and social engagement.  If this is the case, what if we could elevate an entire society’s Hedonic Set Point?  Mr. Pearce openly discusses his thoughts with Jesse about the potential of a happier society and the implications it could have for future generations.

Jesse Raises Some Questions About These “Transhumans”

What would a day in the life of a future Transhuman be? Will our generation of people live to experience Transhumanism directly?

Though David is unsure when these types of designer drugs and genetic integrations will become widely available, the philosopher reframes the questions to examine them from another angle.  Imagine the most fulfilling, enriching and enjoyable experience of your life.  Now imagine that you experienced this kind of euphoria consistently and this was how you usually feel.  How would that effect the outcome of your life?

According to David, the technology is soon coming that will allow parents to choose the relative genetic makeup of their children.  A formulaic approach to predisposing our children against disease and towards intelligence, happiness and longevity.  If we have the ability to genetically protect our offspring from potential disease, do we then have the moral obligation?

This Week in Neuroscience: Why You Should Have Been a Musician as a Child

Jesse talks about the Corpus Callosum, a tightly packed bundle of nerve fibers that provides communication between the two halves of the brain.  According to this recent article from the Journal of Neuroscience, the Corpus Callosum is notably thicker in musicians that began learning an instrument before the age of seven.  Both non-musicians and musicians who began their musical quest after the age of seven do not show this level of bihemispheric connection.  Maybe the parents that start their children on piano lessons at three years old aren’t so crazy after all.

Read the full article here.

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