The Hedonistic Imperative


This manifesto outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds. Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.

        Why does suffering exist? The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they served the inclusive fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. Their ugliness can be replaced by a new motivational system based entirely on gradients of well-being. Life-long happiness of an intensity now physiologically unimaginable can become the heritable norm of mental health. A sketch is offered of when, and why, this major evolutionary transition in the history of life is likely to occur. Possible objections, both practical and moral, are raised and then rebutted.

        Contemporary images of opiate-addled junkies, and the lever-pressing frenzies of intra-cranially self-stimulating rats, are deceptive. Such stereotypes stigmatise, and falsely discredit, the only remedy for the world’s horrors and everyday discontents that is biologically realistic. For it is misleading to contrast social and intellectual development with perpetual happiness. There need be no such trade-off. Thus states of “dopamine-overdrive” can actually enhance exploratory and goal-directed activity. Hyper-dopaminergic states can also increase the range and diversity of actions an organism finds rewarding. Our descendants may live in a civilisation of serenely well-motivated “high-achievers”, animated by gradients of bliss. Their productivity may far eclipse our own.

        Two hundred years ago, before the development of potent synthetic pain-killers or surgical anaesthetics, the notion that “physical” pain could be banished from most people’s lives would have seemed no less bizarre. Most of us in the developed world now take its daily absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as “mental” pain, too, could one day be superseded is equally counter-intuitive. The technical option of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of political policy and ethical choice.

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Can GPT-4 create blissbots?

Hedonistic Imperative memes deserve to proliferateI’ve been thinking about this for a while. Much of what I think has already been written in the Hedonistic Imperative which you can read here: I think its very important to understand that Hedonistic Imperative is not a desire for everyone to live on an isolated pleasure planet, but rather it’s the opposite. It’s about protecting and preserving nature, preventing suffering by using advanced technology along with directly causing happiness. Only then can we be free from our biological past.As a human I could never truly understand the pleasure of another person. When you eat food, it’s not like your brain is overjoyed by every bite! But when you’re hungry and haven’t eaten for 3 days, then eating feels really good.That is the same for pleasure. If you are starving, and eating food feels really good. But if your body can be kept alive on an IV drip then the experience of eating would just feel like a routine.So the key to this is a pain-free existence. An abundance of food and water, no need for sleep, no fear of disease or predators, all the comforts you could ever want.This is the ideal of pleasure. To be able to enjoy everything without limit while not being in pain.