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The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life.

The abolitionist project is hugely ambitious but technically feasible. It is also instrumentally rational and morally urgent. The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved because they served the fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. They will be replaced by a different sort of neural architecture - a motivational system based on heritable gradients of bliss. States of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health. It is predicted that the world's last unpleasant experience will be a precisely dateable event.

Two hundred years ago, powerful synthetic pain-killers and surgical anesthetics were unknown. The notion that physical pain could be banished from most people's lives would have seemed absurd. Today most of us in the technically advanced nations take its routine absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as psychological pain, too, could ever be banished is equally counter-intuitive. The feasibility of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of social policy and ethical choice.

https://www.hedweb.com/




> Two hundred years ago, powerful synthetic pain-killers and surgical anesthetics were unknown.

But opium sure as hell wasn't! And it seems to check most of your suggested boxes too, however I don't think it makes for a good society, perhaps you should consider why, because it's pretty much what you're suggesting.

Why enjoy social interaction? Why enjoy arts? Why learn things? You'd be perfectly happy with more magic hedonism pills. Unpleasantness, and yes, pain is as important a part of being as any other part.


> Unpleasantness, and yes, pain is as important a part of being as any other part.

That's not really an argument; that's just "pain is an important part of being because pain has always been a part of our being". It's not hard to imagine a world where we can live without pain but still live meaningful lives.

The one thing I'd worry about is losing pain where it's useful. If I touch something hot, I want to know immediately (through pain) so I can quickly pull my hand away. But perhaps there's a different mechanism that could replace that.


>It's not hard to imagine a world where we can live without pain but still live meaningful lives.

Actually it's pretty hard to imagine it.

Tons of people conditions without adversity dwindle and end up shooting heroin, killing themselves, or worse, living long lives as accountants.


To expand on said difficulty: the older I get, the more I believe Agent Smith was right when he said that "Humans define their reality through suffering and misery".

Also, homeostasis should dampen any long-term pleasure-inducing machinery (even if it comes from within).


> Unpleasantness, and yes, pain is as important a part of being as any other part.

While I agree in principle, reality is a lot more nuanced. For example, there is a very real difference between spraining your ankle (pain is a signal to rest it), and chronic nerve pain (which only serves to make the sufferer miserable).


Is there a section that discusses “pain as a warning system?” This sounds great for chronic pain, but I have a hard time conceiving of how removing the immediate pain response to environmental stimulus works here.

Touch a hot stove => feel pain and recoil

People without a pain response have all sorts of problems with incidental injuries that rise in mortality since they are unaware of them. I’m guessing that the site has answers for that, because it’s such a basic objection, but it wasn’t apparent from reading the table of contents.


Isn't that basically what happened with leprosy? Didn't seem to work out too well for those folks.


My dad cannot feel pain in his feet- it is terrible, as he often doesn't know they are even injured until he leaves bloody footprints around the house, or infection sets in deeply.

"Abolition" of all physical pain is an asinine desire that will only lead to our detriment.


Something similar happened to an old friend of mine - he didn't know he had diabetes, and due to the resulting nerve damage in his feet had no idea anything was wrong until after gangrene had set in. I haven't seen him in a while but I understand he came out of it pretty well, in that he "only" lost a few toes and managed to keep most of his foot.

I hope your dad is managing ok and avoids this sort of mishap.


Everyone should get an annual hemoglobin A1c screening blood test. There are a huge number of undiagnosed diabetics.


OK, but suppose your brain could be notified that something is wrong with your foot, without it hurting?



> running across the hot desert sand in order to reach water would actually feel good

And so people would seek it out. We already seek out every other form of pleasure- both positive (intimacy) and maladaptive (drugs).

If anything, this sounds like attempting to over-fit for fitness.


They would deliberately set themselves up to need to run across hot sand to reach water? Why?

(I understand why a standard human might do that, but how would stranding oneself in a desert be adaptive? And if it isn’t adaptive, why would a hypothetical “harmonized human” do it?)


Parkour, skydiving, downhill skiing, motorcycling, drag racing, autoerotic asphyxiation, Russian roulette.

Out of all the things known to nature, humans find the most incredible ways to entertain and please themselves to death.

If you remove the element of pain and replace it with pleasure, people will find new and exciting ways to chase that pleasure too.

Run into unsafe neighborhoods at night and feel the joy of running back home. Roll around in broken glass and let the euphoria of stitching yourself back together set in.

> And if it isn’t adaptive, why would a hypothetical “harmonized human” do it?)

They'll do whatever you want them to do, because they are neither real nor human.


Maybe it will be possible to only numb specific areas, so that you would still feel pain if you accidentally hurt yourself.


That means you want less pain, not no pain at all.


> The notion that physical pain could be banished from most people's lives would have seemed absurd. Today most of us in the technically advanced nations take its routine absence for granted.

LOL, that's absurd. I'm working from bed (again) because of constant back pain that spikes to unbearable if I stay upright for too long.


> Today most of us in the technically advanced nations take [the] routine absence [of physical pain] for granted.

"In 2016, an estimated 20.4% of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% of U.S. adults had high-impact chronic pain." https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6736a2.htm

I guess this depends on how you define "most".


Brave New World was meant to be a dystopia, not a model to follow!


My favorite line from the show (which diverges significantly from the book, but I thought both were good in their own way) was when Bernard is stuck in the savage lands without his Soma, and cries "Is this what you people feel like all the time?!"


His in-depth response to your precise point is written here: https://www.huxley.net/

(On a side note this guy owns some really interesting web domains)


> it is also instrumentally rational

How is it meaningful to say that a goal or project is instrumentally rational? It may be instrumentally rational to pursue a goal or project without regard to the means and only focusing on the ends...In other words the people executing it are instrumentally rational. But surely the thing itself cannot be said to "instrumentally rational" - what would that even mean? The goal is the goal. That is a value judgement that can be pursued in an instrumentally rational manner, but cannot itself be anything other than a goal valued by someone.


> in all sentient life

I don't think we have to worry too much about ALL of sentient life, since all that's gonna be left of it soon is humans and pets and cattle.

> most of us in the technically advanced nations take its routine absence for granted

The absence of pain is not the absence of issues. Unless you can "solve" all (physical, psychological, societal) issues (and what would "solving" most of them even mean?), you're advocating for literally the cliche "treating the symptom and not the cause", Brave-New-World-soma-style.


>and what would "solving" most of them even mean?

One step further. If the universe has a purpose and we somehow solve the universe (maximize entropy or whatever), wouldn't humans cease to exist?

The truth is that we are beings of constant motion. We can't sit still.


Leave it to modern man to think we can rearchitect something so fundamental as pain and pleasure in the human experience without disastrous results.


Let's think about the internet. Let's think about how it enables us to achieve instant communication all around the globe and freely share and distribute knowledge too great to hold in one's brain. I'd say the modern men are more than capable of overcoming biological barriers once thought to be fundamentally impossible to achieve.

It might be a fairly rough road to get there, but I'm certain our understanding of how our brains perceive pain and pleasure will be dramatically different in a 100 years, and it'll be for the better.


The internet is a great example of technology with negative implications that may never be understood. Television would be a good (but less potent) earlier example.


At what cost? What are the second order effects of the glorious revolution?


What a naive, juvenile idea. Most pain is a useful signal. It's not something to be avoided. There is nothing moral about this.


Considering people born with pain insensitivity end up severely damaging their bodies this sounds like a terrible idea.


>The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life.

Aside from the suffering of a boring life without suffering, like a pampered baby in a glass bowl...


Suffering leads to catharsis, all pain shouldn’t be eliminated


Whatever you're smoking, I'll take two.


No pain, no empathy.


Or perhaps the only pain will be empathetic.




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