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Steven Pinker on Genetically Re-engineering Human Nature

There are many changes to our insti­tu­tions and our norms and our ideas that can reduce or elim­i­nate the risks of nuclear war with­out what I con­sid­er a rather quixot­ic attempt to change the course of human evolution.

The Conversation #37 — David Keith

There are biol­o­gists who’ve spent their careers work­ing on some species of bee­tle in the trop­i­cal rain­for­est, and they just love the rain­for­est in their bones And they feel that when they go tes­ti­fy in Congress to some com­mit­tee, that they can’t just say, I love it in my bones and you guys will love it too, if you share it with me.” They have to say, Oh, we’ve done all this math and com­put­ed that there’s an ecosys­tem ser­vice here.” And I think that that has real­ly impov­er­ished our debate about envi­ron­men­tal issues.

The War Inside: How Will the Human Body be Enhanced for War?

I want you to imag­ine the abil­i­ty to take a few drops of someone’s blood, to com­bine that with some cog­ni­tive and some phys­i­cal test­ing, and to be able to fig­ure out where that per­son is going to be most effec­tive in your military. 

Studying Harm

One of the most recent par­a­digms that we’ve used to try to get this under exper­i­men­tal con­trol is to ask peo­ple to act out pre­tend harm­ful actions. So for instance, we’ll give them a dis­abled hand­gun. We’ll show them that it’s fake. That it couldn’t pos­si­bly harm a fly. We put it in their hands and then we ask them to shoot us in the head.

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