View Flourishing personality
Flourishing personality is essentially the concept of an individual striving for their full potential. The concept is particularly relevant in distinguishing the pure bliss that will be allowed by Neurotechnology and Wireheading, as opposed to more traditional ideas of self-actualization.
IEET Director Michael LaTorra has spoken of flourishing personality as"human flourishing in the sense of expanding our capacities, deepening our understanding and developing to the point that we are capable of going through transformations…that are quantum leaps up a step ladder of understanding.”
IEET Executive Director James Hughes notes that in the future"We will have the ability to have direct Brain-computer interfaces that create not only control over mood but also control over all of our sensory experience. In that kind of situation, it is not just a dystopian heroin addiction. You could change your brain in such a way that you never wanted to do anything other than what you were doing again.” The notion of flourishing is important as it means that instead of just experiencing happiness in relation to doing something meaningless, happiness is gained from activities consistent with our current values.
Hughes and LaTorra spoke at Convergence 08 on topics including flourishing personality. The concept has roots that can be traced to Buddhism, although it is still relevant to non-Buddhists. Hughes said of the ideas of Buddhism:
You can spend all your life cycling around in these different kinds of realms, and one of the realms is actually the heaven realm. When you end up in the heaven realm, you can live there for millions of years in perfect bliss, but it is the static nature of it that the Buddhist ideas complain about, because you are still not growing, flourishing, understanding yourself better or freeing yourself from the limitations that you are under.
Respect for autonomy and individuality means that individuals should not be coerced into pursuing flourishing personality. If, for instance, someone wanted to spend their days endlessly rewatching a favorite TV show that would be their choice. This would not be an issue as long as a significant majority of the population did not choose to engage in such activities. On the other hand, great increases in control of our minds bring similar increases in responsibility. Hughes gives the example of having a responsibility to help a friend overcome an addiction.
Even if the widespread use of powerful Neurotechnology is concurrent with nanotechnology induced post-scarcity or the alleviation of other social problems, civilization would still face globally catastrophic and Existential risks. This is just one reason it would be desirable for members of society to be productive. Studies of happiness show that those that are happier are generally more productive. However, after a certain level of happiness is reached the productivity benefits diminish and taper off and the very happiest individuals are not the most productive. The Hedonistic Imperative advocates an abolitionist strategy to engineer productivity with gradients of bliss.
Digital Serfs and Cyborg Buddhas