Post-Darwinian Hedonic Engineering

PEARCE: In maybe three or four decades or so, we’ll be choosing such traits as the average hedonic set point of our children. Over time, I think allelic combinations [suites of variant copies of mission-critical genes] that leave their bearers predisposed to unpleasant states of consciousness — unpleasant states that were genetically adaptive in our ancestral environment — will be weeded out of the gene pool. For a very different kind of selection pressure is at work when evolution is no longer “blind” and “random,” i.e. when rational agents design the genetic makeup of their future offspring in anticipation of its likely effects. In that sense, we’re heading for a post-Darwinian transition – ultimately I believe to some form of paradise-engineering.  

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