Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies






The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.


Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Genome Stability Leads to Negligible Senescence

Bipolar Disorder Is Like Having Two Serious Illnesses at Once

Nicotine’s Cognitive Benefits – Six Ways to Ingest It

Practopoiesis - a Theory on How Life Organizes, including the Mind

International Longevity Day - October 1, 2015

Digital Stroke


ieet books

The End of the Beginning: Life, Society and Economy on the Brink of the Singularity
Author
Ben Goertzel


comments

SHaGGGz on 'Would AI and Aliens be Moral in a Godless Universe?' (Aug 31, 2015)

Rick Searle on 'Would AI and Aliens be Moral in a Godless Universe?' (Aug 31, 2015)

Rick Searle on 'Would AI and Aliens be Moral in a Godless Universe?' (Aug 31, 2015)

Rick Searle on 'Would AI and Aliens be Moral in a Godless Universe?' (Aug 31, 2015)

Giulio Prisco on 'Would AI and Aliens be Moral in a Godless Universe?' (Aug 31, 2015)

rms on 'Smart Regulation For Smart Drugs' (Aug 31, 2015)

spud100 on 'Would AI and Aliens be Moral in a Godless Universe?' (Aug 30, 2015)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


8 Craziest Mega-Engineering Projects We Could Use to Rework the Earth
Aug 13, 2015
(5846) Hits
(0) Comments

Free Will, Buddhism, and Mindfulness Meditation - interview with Terry Hyland
Aug 8, 2015
(5479) Hits
(0) Comments

Starting from Scratch: The Basic Building Blocks of AI
Aug 23, 2015
(5336) Hits
(0) Comments

How Cheap Can Solar Get? Very Cheap Indeed
Aug 12, 2015
(4734) Hits
(13) Comments



IEET > Vision > Bioculture > Staff > Marcelo Rinesi

Print Email permalink (0) Comments (2718) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Death by (lack of a) drugs (culture)


Marcelo Rinesi
By Marcelo Rinesi
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 20, 2012

A recent report from the Los Angeles Times underscored what amounts to an epidemic of deaths in the US caused at least in part by overdoses of legally prescribed drugs. The root problem, though, is one of cultural technology rather than chemistry or regulation.

We can begin to sketch the limits of the problem by noting that “keeping out” dangerous drugs is impossible, as there’s no medically useful substance that isn’t, when used improperly, dangerous or even lethal. A second observation is that legal regulation, while necessary, is hardly sufficient, because the personal and financial incentives involved are huge (both arguments, by the way, are equally applicable to the War on Non-FDA-Approved Drugs).

This is hardly a new feature in human history, which can, up to a point, be characterized by our search of psychoactive substances and activities. Drugs like alcohol, opium, or tobacco have at times caused significant societal damages, which led to different degrees of legal regulation, but in all cases, the key factor in their long-term management has been the culture-wide development of a shared knowledge base on how to best use the substance in a way the culture feels balances its benefits and drawbacks. The divergent stories of alcohol and tobacco regulation in the United States show how complex can be the interplay between cultural mores, the law, and medical knowledge, and how, ultimately, societal learning is what makes laws effective in this regard if they are to be all effective.

This isn’t an smooth or even irreversible path. Witness Russia’s high rate of alcohol-related deaths after the fall of the Soviet Union, despite their long cultural experience with the substance. To be fair, that kind of geopolitical shock will affect you no matter what, and alcohol probably just happened to be their poison of choice.

There are things, however, that can slow down this process of learning, extending the problems associated with any substance. Making drugs (whether with or without known medical uses) downright illegal or assuming that regulation alone will work, which puts the use and knowledge of these substance in the hands of a very small set of people, do little or nothing to prevent deaths in the short term, and, by severely restricting familiarity with their use, contribute to an unnecessary number of deaths over the long term. A parallel can be drawn with condom usage: it was by widespread knowledge sharing about safe sex practices, and not by preventing sex, than both STDs and unwanted pregnancies have diminished across most of the world – and not coincidentally, in a pattern very well correlated with education and access to information.

There are few things more dangerous than ignorance, particularly when it comes to our bodies and the things we do with and to them. There’s no substitute to informed knowledge when it comes to your own sex life; perhaps it’s time to take a similar level of ownership of our medicine cabinets.


Marcelo Rinesi is the Assistant Director of the IEET. He is also a freelance Data Intelligence Analyst.
Print Email permalink (0) Comments (2719) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Thanksgiving 2042: ‘Turkey Day’ in a future wonderworld

Previous entry: How to “sketch” with electronics

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376