April 23, 2002

Fukuyama: Our Posthuman Future

Francis Fukuyama Imagines a Terrifying New Drug: The End of History guy is back with Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution." The first chapter is called, "A Tale of Two Dystopias," and in it he gets very worried about the potential development of new psychoactive drugs. Here's the scary picture he paints of the effects of futuristic drugs: "Stolid people can become vivacious; introspective ones extroverted; you can adopt one personality on Wednesday and another for the weekend."

Uh, Francis, people are already using a drug to make themselves more vivacious and extroverted on the weekend. You might even have heard of it: it's called "beer."

This is not to say that drugs won't have a big impact on human behavior in the future. But what I am saying is that the best way to predict what that will be is to study the impact of drugs in the past and right now. The same goes with genetic technologies. If Fukuyama honestly wanted to understand what the manipulation of genetic diversity will bring in the future, he'd examine the social impact of existing genetic diversity - e.g., racial differences. But that would threaten his highly successful career. Here's my "The Future of Human Nature" as an intro to the topic.

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