External links

  • Paradise Engineering
  • The Hedonistic Imperative
  • The Abolitionist Project
  • Letter from Utopia
  • Desire Modification: the ultimate technology” (note that “d-mod” is short for “desire modification”):

    Rudimentary d-mod technologies already exist, and are already big business. The main examples are antidepressant medication such as Prozac, recreational pleasure drugs such as Ecstasy, and “study drugs” such as Adderall. Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens, used to combat severe depression, is another example. A third is meditation, which is used to increase calmness and sometimes reduce certain desires (remember, skills and techniques also count as “technologies” - Buddhists and others have been exploring d-mod for thousands of years). Motivational speakers, self-help books and courses, and psychotherapy also partly fall into the d-mod category. So the market is already there; d-mod is a product that sells itself.

  • How Plastic Are Values?”:

    All of this suggests that human preferences are surprisingly plastic. Not completely plastic mind you, but still, we have a big capacity to change what we see as pleasure or pain, as desirable or undesirable. Yes we usually can’t just individually will ourselves to love what we hated a few hours ago. But the net effect of all our experience over a lifetime is huge.

    It seems that this should make us worry less that future folks will be happy. Even if it seems that future folks will have to do or experience things that we today would find unpleasant, future culture could change people so that they find these new things pleasant instead. Yes, if change happens very fast it might take culture time to adapt, and there could be a lot of unhappy people during the transition. And yes there are probably limits beyond which culture can’t make us like things. But within a wide range of actions and experiences, future folks can learn to like whatever it is that their world requires.