Superpower enhancements are pro-inequality, Open Lifespan is pro-equal-opportunity

Here am continuing my investigations to widen the gap between enhancements and healthy longevity efforts, Open Lifespan being the possible upper limit of those efforts.

In The superpower enhancement test: Open Lifespan is not for boasting the case was made that Open Lifespan as a capacity cannot be used for demonstrative and performative purposes, as opposed to poster child superpowers like memory enhancements, and hence it cannot be used to single out individuals in a competitive situation.

Today we will look at another aspect of this comparison/conceptual difference using a very similar pub chat setup as last time. But this time we are invoking the heavyweight concepts of political philosophy: equality/inequality.

So imagine a bunch of superheroes and the odd one out meeting in a pub one day, long time from now, accidentally and talking about the biggest strength or power they have.

A: I can see through walls with a super-developed thermal vision. I beat you all when it comes to achieving things in the dark. (Demonstrates it by telling how many people are in the pub’s toilet.)

B: I have an I.Q. off the roof, it cannot be measured with any standardised tests. I beat you all in solving math puzzles quick. (Demonstrates it by asking others to give them (singular ‘they’) 3 100 digit numbers to multiply.)

C: I am invisible if I want to. I beat you all in spying and escaping. (Demonstrates it by disappearing from plain sight and then re-appearing at another pub table.)

D: I’m 500 years old and did you know that we can all live indefinitely long healthily cause we can have access to this cool technology called Open Healthspan, you interested?

Which is the odd one out? Which capability would you like to have and which capability would you like to share?

Important restriction: here I have not specified the level of access to the technologies making these capacities possible, including Open Lifespan. It is an imaginary scenario, where access to all these options is not guaranteed for anybody. But we don’t need to assume more at this point in order for the argument to work and show the tendencies behinds these capacities, either pointing towards inequality or equality.

Let’s mention 2 problems with representative superpowers like memory enhancers, IQ boosters and invisibility.

Problem #1: The situations we imagine these superpowers being used are such that they confer competitive benefits to their users as opposed to others. Memory enhancers, IQ boosters will help individuals leverage their extra gained skills over people without access to these same enhancements.

Problem #2: If everyone would have access to these superpowers then nobody could leverage them over other people and so they would cease to be superpowers, ones that are giving extra competitive benefits to people.

As Dan W. Brock puts it:

The attempt to gain a competitive advantage from an enhancement available to everyone will be self-defeating.

Dan W. Brock: Enhancements of Human Function, p60 in Enhancing Human Traits, Georgetown University Press, edited by Erik Parens, 2007.

In short: Representative superpower enhancements are pro-inequality as introducing them will increase competitive inequality.

As opposed to this, Open Lifespan is the capacity that would provide equal opportunities for all those who can access it. The equal opportunity would be provided by the extra time gained through Open Healthspan interventions. This extra time is the one giving a recurring, repeated chance to start anew, to reset, to re-gain opportunities potentially lost at an earlier time. Open Lifespan is a continuous, temporal, recursive opportunity provider.

General Conclusion: Open Lifespan is an equal opportunity provider condition, Open Healthspan technologies leading to interventions to counteract the aging process are the most progressive ones. Open Lifespan is not an enhancement, it’s a default, foundational motivation and tendency.

Personalised Conclusion for Transhumanists: drop healthy longevity from your pet enhancement list.