Sunday, August 19, 2007

Artificial enhancements

I read an article in Wired about blade runner, a double amputee whose hi-tech artificial legs are supposedly giving him an unfair advantage in Olympic running events. If you're willing to cut off your legs to gain an artificial advantage, go for it. If it's not worth cutting them off, then stop complaining.

On a similar note, I think that chemical enhancements such as steroids have a place in professional sports. Their purpose is to increase the level of competition for the truly great. Players who have no chance of being champions should be drugged while the truly talented remain clean. It would be like having Mohammad Ali as a sparring partner--you would learn for the greatest, even if the greatest was just enhanced mediocrity.

2 Comments:

Blogger Karl said...

If you're willing to cut off your legs to gain an artificial advantage, go for it. If it's not worth cutting them off, then stop complaining.

You know this is a case of the prisoner's dilemma, right? There are two equilibria. There is one where no one cuts off their legs and there is a level playing field. There is another where everyone cuts off their legs and there is a level playing field. But the first equilibrium is unstable: each player has an incentive to cut off his legs. It is worth it for the advantage, as long as everyone else doesn't do it too. So you slide down to the crappy corner of the prisoner's dilemma box, where nobody is any better off in the standings and everyone has lost their legs.

This reasoning underlies many liberal appeals for government intervention, so you should understand it better. Conservatives want to let the invisible hand determine who could profit most by cutting off their legs. Liberals realize that if you sit down and agree together that you want to stay at the first equilibrium, no one has to lose their legs.

Conservatives come back with externality arguments, since amputation for the racers means more exciting races for spectators. That's why they're so big on GDP growth. But you gotta ask if it's worth making the racers suffer.

3:49 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

You know this is a case of the prisoner's dilemma, right?

The prisoner's dilemma it is not. The prisoner's dilemma requires a lack of knowledge of the other's action.

A third equilibria is that there are a sufficient number of legless individuals that they create an enhanced league for them.

This reasoning underlies many liberal appeals for government intervention, so you should understand it better.

My true bias is an inherent suspicion of government intervention on anything. I envision a world in which every runner is forced to have one leg cut off and replaced by a bionic leg--that's what I would expect the government to do.

8:28 AM  

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