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What Does Utopia Look Like?

We’d all like to live in a better future, and for ages men have imagined what a theoretical best future might be like. What would a utopian society truly look like? Does the answer lie in external approaches like abundance, decentralization and transparency, or internal approaches like drugs, wireheading and genetic engineering? Is it even possible to formulate a Theory of Fun for human beings, that would define the contours of a world that could exist in perfect equilibrium where the people living in that world never die or get bored?

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Other people's visions of utopia leave many readers cold. Sentient beings have innumerable conflicting preferences and desires. Satisfying more than a small percentage these conflicting preferences and desires is logically impossible. So how do we reconcile the irreconcilable?

Raising hedonic set-points and both the upper and lower bounds of our hedonic range will soon be technically feasible - in theory, beyond the range of archaic human "peak experiences". Hedonic enrichment via biotech doesn't just promise a universally richer quality of life of life. Hedonic set-point recalibration can in principle allow you to conserve your existing preferences and values - including preferences and values that conflict with those of other proponents of radical mood-enrichment.

There are a number of complications to this rosy scenario.
Here are just two.

First, although most preferences and values may survive hedonic enrichment, behaviour and cognitive biases will presumably change. If this weren't the case, then a predisposition to low mood, for example, would probably never have evolved in the first instance. Non-social species of animal aren't prone to depression. If you were temperamentally happier, then you would presumably still support your football team, want to win at chess, and prefer Blood on the Dance Floor to Mozart. But for better or worse, a world based on information-sensitive gradients of bliss probably wouldn't support many negative utilitarians.

A second complication to radical mood-enrichment is the existence of people actively opposed to the use of biotechnology for this purpose. If the percentage of opponents is currently small, this may be because only a minority of people are aware that the genetic basis of hedonic set-points and hedonic range is potentially amenable to pre-selection and control.
[cf. "Danish DNA could be key to happiness":
"The catechol-O-methyl transferase Val158Met polymorphism and experience of reward in the flow of daily life":
"Genetically Engineering Almost Anything": ]]
Awareness of the nature of the hedonic treadmill has grown in recent years - though a lot of utopian futurology still blithely ignores its existence and ramifications.
["Lottery winners and accident victims: is happiness relative?":
Alas there is still surprisingly little scholarly literature on the prospects for systematic hedonic set-point elevation. I'm not sure how ignorance and opposition can best be overcome - other than to note the huge difference between a refusal ever to use such technology oneself and seeking actively to forbid its use by others.
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