Sociobiological Engineering: Harnessing compulsions otherwise exploited for the enrichment of the few to benefit all

Transhumanism does not begin and end with modifications we make to our own bodies and brains.  It also involves exerting the influence of our free wills on the structure of the societies in which we are embedded in order to generate an environment that will facilitate our goals.  It calls for change not only within, but without as well.  This can be accomplished in many ways.  The following essay is one such way.

What is an enzyme?  An enzyme is a biological catalyst.  A catalyst is some sort of physical object that, due to its shape and surface properties, interacts with another physical process in such a way as to make it take place faster, or with less energy cost.  It lowers something called the activation cost.  Please keep in mind the idea of an activation cost.  It’s a critically important concept and will be responsible for much of the intellectual heavy-lifting throughout this discourse.  In other words, a catalyzed reaction has a lower rate-limiting free energy change to the transition state — the intermediate state between the reactants (those things being affected by the catalyst) and the products.  It is also significant that the catalyst is not itself consumed in the reaction.

So what does all this enzyme talk have to do with social engineering?  Contrary to what biochemists would have you believe, the concept of a catalyst is quite general.  If Nature can make a catalyst out of amino acids to affect proteins and molecules, can we not build a catalyst at our level to facilitate social reactions?  What kind of social reactions?  What kind of social catalyst are we talking about?  I am proposing the construction of a casino, the Cure Casino.  A not-for-profit casino, all the proceeds of which will be used specifically to fund biomedical research to study cancer.

At first, proceeds will be donated to established research institutions.  Once the revenue stream is sufficient, Cure Casino intends to establish its own research center in which all discoveries or techniques developed will be made freely available to all other researchers.

An enzyme is a device that facilitates the conversion or movement of energy from one form to another, owing only to its shape and electrochemical surface properties.  They are highly specific, highly evolved structures that are exquisitely adapted to perform one or a few tricks of conversion.  Likewise, a casino, owing to its specific physical and legal structure, is a device evolved to facilitate its own characteristic reaction: separating risk-takers from their money.  The energy here is in the form of money, and the casino-device provides a conduit through which motivating psychological energy can be harnessed to catalyze the movement of resources from one place to another in the social body.

The idea of channeling individual greed into public welfare, to some, is just obvious.  Civilizations in the past have used similar social catalysts to convert psychological drives and vices into pious structures and social boons.  The Babylonian temples used sacred prostitutes to convert the sexual urges of the citizens into liquid resources to provide for propitiation of the deity, temple upkeep, and the feeding of the priests.

The modern state generates a large income that is nominally used to provide funds for public education by sponsoring a statewide, or even multi-state, lottery.  A casino acts just like an enzyme, speeding up the reaction where people with greed or a tolerance for risk and money go in, and people without money go out.  The odds favor the house, so over statistical time, money flows in the direction proportional to the probability differential.  It is about as safe an investment as there is, provided there is wise stewardship of the cash flow.

Lets make some practical observations here.  The National Institute of Health’s yearly budget is around $29 billion; the National Cancer Institute spends about $2 billion annually.  In 2007, gross gambling revenue was $92 billion, with over $34 billion of it coming from casinos, and the total is expected to rise to over $120 billion by next year. Of course, Cure Casinos in no way have to be a strictly American enterprise, but we like to start small.

Normally, this enzymatic mechanism of the casino is exploited by large corporations or particularly resource-laden and well-connected individuals.  The resources collected as a consequence of the probability differential that remains in excess of the cost of operations is normally funneled to these individuals and corporations to enrich the owners, who then dissipate these excess resources on whatever they please (giant houses, cars, drugs, multiple wives, dividends, weapons, maybe occasionally charity, etc).

To summarize, the proposal here is the formation of a non-profit charitable organization that exploits the catalytic structure of the large commercial casino as a channel to funnel resources to fund scientific research, specifically for finding cures for cancers.  Upon the successful completion of a solid revenue stream, our labs would perform independent research, making any intellectual property generated by our scientists free for anyone to use however they wish.  We will partner with any researchers, academic, governmental, or industrial who agree to make their work freely available.

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