presumed consent

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pages: 304 words: 22,886

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein


Al Roth, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, availability heuristic, call centre, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, continuous integration, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, diversification, diversified portfolio, endowment effect, equity premium, feminist movement, framing effect, full employment, George Akerlof, index fund, invisible hand, late fees, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, Mason jar, medical malpractice, medical residency, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, pension reform, presumed consent, profit maximization, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Saturday Night Live, school choice, school vouchers, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, Zipcar

Such an approach violates a generally accepted principle, which is that within broad limits, individuals should be able to decide what is to be done with and to their bodies. Presumed Consent A policy that can pass libertarian muster by our standards is called presumed consent. Presumed consent preserves freedom of choice, but it is different from explicit consent because it shifts the default rule. Under this policy, all citizens would be presumed to be consenting donors, but they would have the opportunity to register their unwillingness to donate, and they could do so easily. We want to underline the word easily, because the harder it is to register your unwillingness to participate, the less libertarian the policy becomes. Recall that libertarian paternalists want to im- 177 178 HEALTH pose low costs, and if possible no costs, on those who go their own way. Although presumed consent is, in a sense, the opposite of explicit consent, there is a key similarity: under both regimes, those who don’t hold the default preference will have to register in order to opt out.

Whatever the precise figure, it is clear that the switch would save thousands of lives every year. Determining the exact effect of changing the default rule is difficult because countries vary widely in how they implement the law. France is technically a presumed consent country, but physicians routinely ask the family members of a donor for their permission, and they usually follow the family’s wishes. This policy blurs the distinction between presumed consent and explicit consent. Still, the default rule does matter. In the United States, if there is no explicit donor card for survivors to see, families reject requests for donations about half the time. The rejection rate is much lower in countries with presumed consent rules, even though there is typically no record of the donor’s wishes. In Spain the rate is about 20 percent, and in France it is about 30 percent.4 As one report put it: “The next of kin can be approached quite differently when the decedent’s silence is presumed to indicate a decision to donate rather than when it is presumed to indicate a 179 180 HEALTH decision not to donate.

In the explicit consent condition, participants were told that they had just moved to a new state where the default was not to be an organ donor, and they were given the option of confirming or changing that status. In the presumed consent version, the wording was identical but the default was to be a donor. In the third, neutral, condition, there was no mention of a default—they just had to choose. Under all three conditions, the response was entered literally with one click. As you will now expect, the default mattered—a lot. When participants had to opt in to being an organ donor, only 42 percent did so. But when they had to opt out, 82 percent agreed to be donors. Surprisingly, almost as many people (79 percent) agreed to be donors in the neutral condition. Although nearly all states in the United States use a version of explicit consent, many countries in Europe have adopted presumed consent laws (though the cost of opting out varies, and always involves more than a click).


pages: 500 words: 145,005

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard H. Thaler


Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Atul Gawande, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Black-Scholes formula, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, Checklist Manifesto, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Glaeser, endowment effect, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, Home mortgage interest deduction, impulse control, index fund, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, late fees, law of one price, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, market clearing, Mason jar, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, More Guns, Less Crime, mortgage debt, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, New Journalism, nudge unit, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, presumed consent, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Walter Mischel

Most countries adopt some version of an opt-in policy, whereby donors have to take some positive step such as filling in a form in order to have their name added to the donor registry list. However, some countries in Europe, such as Spain, have adopted an opt-out strategy that is called “presumed consent.” You are presumed to give your permission to have your organs harvested unless you explicitly take the option to opt out and put your name on a list of “non-donors.” The findings of Johnson and Goldstein’s paper showed how powerful default options can be. In countries where the default is to be a donor, almost no one opts out, but in countries with an opt-in policy, often less than half of the population opts in! Here, we thought, was a simple policy prescription: switch to presumed consent. But then we dug deeper. It turns out that most countries with presumed consent do not implement the policy strictly. Instead, medical staff members continue to ask family members whether they have any objection to having the deceased relative’s organs donated.

This question often comes at a time of severe emotional stress, since many organ donors die suddenly in some kind of accident. What is worse is that family members in countries with this regime may have no idea what the donor’s wishes were, since most people simply do nothing. That someone failed to fill out a form opting out of being a donor is not a strong indication of his actual beliefs. We came to the conclusion that presumed consent was not, in fact, the best policy. Instead we liked a variant that had recently been adopted by the state of Illinois and is also used in other U.S. states. When people renew their driver’s license, they are asked whether they wish to be an organ donor. Simply asking people and immediately recording their choices makes it easy to sign up.† In Alaska and Montana, this approach has achieved donation rates exceeding 80%.

., 186–87 overconfidence, 6, 52, 124, 355 and high trading volume in finance markets, 217–18 in NFL draft, 280, 295 overreaction: in financial markets, 219–20, 222–24, 225–29 generalized, 223–24 to sense of humor, 218, 219, 223 value stocks and, 225–29 Oxford Handbook of Behavioral Economics and the Law, 269 Palm and 3Com, 244–49, 246, 250, 348 paradigms, 167–68, 169–70 Pareto, Vilfredo, 93 parking tickets, 260 passions, 7, 88, 103 paternalism, 269, 322 dislike of term, 324 libertarian, 322, 323–25 path dependence, 298–300 “pay as you earn” system, 335 payment depreciation, 67 Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombing of, 232 P/E effect, 219–20, 222–23, 233, 235 pensions, 9, 198, 241, 320, 357–58 permanent income hypothesis, 95 Peter Principle, 293 pharmaceutical companies, 189–90 Pigou, Arthur, 88, 90 plane tickets, 138 planner-doer model, 104–10 Plott, Charlie, 40, 41, 48, 49, 148, 149, 177, 181 poker, 80, 81–82, 99 poor, 58n Posner, Richard, 259–61, 266 Post, Thierry, 296 poverty, decision making and, 371 Power, Samantha, 330 “Power of Suggestion, The” (Madrian and Shea), 315 practice, 50 predictable errors, 23–24 preferences: change in, 102–3 revealed, 86 well-defined, 48–49 pregnancy, teenage, 342 Prelec, Drazen, 179 Prescott, Edward, 191, 192 present bias (hyperbolic discounting), 91–92, 110, 227n and NFL draft, 280, 287 savings and, 314 presumed consent, in organ donations, 328–29 price controls, 363 price/earnings ratio (P/E), 219–20, 222–23, 233, 235 prices: buying vs. selling, 17, 18–19, 20, 21 rationality of, 206, 222, 230–33, 231, 237, 251–52 variability of stock, 230–33, 231, 367 price-to-rental ratios, 252 principal-agent model, 105–9, 291 Prisoner’s Dilemma, 143–44, 145, 301–5, 302 “Problem of Social Cost, The” (Coase), 263–64 profit maximization, 27, 30 promotional pricing strategy, 62n prompted choice (in organ donation), 327–29 prospect theory, 25–28, 295, 353 acceptance of, 38–39 and “as if” critique of behavioral economics, 46 and consumer choice, 55 and equity premium puzzle, 198 expected utility theory vs., 29 surveys used in experiments of, 38 psychological accounting, see mental accounting “Psychology and Economics Conference Handbook,” 163 “Psychology and Savings Policies” (Thaler), 310–13 Ptolemaic astronomy, 169–70 public goods, 144–45 Public Goods Game, 144–46 Punishment Game, 141–43, 146 Pythagorean theorem, 25–27 qualified default investment alternatives, 316 quantitative analysis, 293 Quarterly Journal of Economics, 197, 201 quasi-hyperbolic discounting, 91–92 quilt, 57, 59, 61, 65 Rabin, Matthew, 110, 181–83, 353 paternalism and, 323 racetracks, 80–81, 174–75 Radiolab, 305 randomized control trials (RCTs), 8, 338–43, 344, 371 in education, 353–54 Random Walk Down Walk Street, A (Malkiel), 242 rational expectations, 98, 191 in macroeconomics, 209 rational forecasts, 230–31 rationality: bounded, 23–24, 29, 162 Chicago debate on, 159–63, 167–68, 169, 170, 205 READY4K!


pages: 386 words: 122,595

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated) by Charles Wheelan


affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, Doha Development Round, Exxon Valdez, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, invisible hand, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Malacca Straits, market bubble, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, open economy, presumed consent, price discrimination, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, Yogi Berra, young professional

Spain, France, Norway, Israel, and many other countries have “opt-out” (or presumed consent) laws when it comes to organ donation. You are an organ donor unless you indicate otherwise, which you are free to do. (In contrast, the United States has an “opt-in” system, meaning that you are not an organ donor unless you sign up to be one.) Inertia matters, even when it comes to something as serious as organ donation. Economists have found that presumed consent laws have a significant positive effect on organ donation, controlling for relevant country characteristics such as religion and health expenditures. Spain has the highest rate of cadaveric organ donations in the world—50 percent higher than the United States.14 True libertarians (as opposed to the paternalistic kind) reject presumed consent laws, because they imply that the government “owns” your internal organs until you make some effort to get them back.

Jordan, “How to Keep Growing ‘New Economies,’” Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, August 15, 2000. 11. Barry Bearak, “In India, the Wheels of Justice Hardly Move,” New York Times, June 1, 2000. 12. Thomas L. Friedman, “I Love D.C.,” New York Times, November 7, 2000, p. A29. 13. Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999). 14. Giacomo Balbinotto Neto, Ana Katarina Campelo, and Everton Nunes da Silva, “The Impact of Presumed Consent Law on Organ Donation: An Empirical Analysis from Quantile Regression for Longitudinal Data,” Berkeley Program in Law & Economics, Paper 050107–2 (2007). CHAPTER 4. GOVERNMENT AND THE ECONOMY II 1. John Markoff, “CIA Tries Foray into Capitalism,” New York Times, September 29, 1999. 2. March 6, 2001. 3. Jackie Calmes and Louise Story, “In Washington, One Bank Chief Still Holds Sway,” New York Times, January 19, 2009. 4.


pages: 302 words: 83,116

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner


agricultural Revolution, airport security, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, call centre, clean water, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, disintermediation, endowment effect, experimental economics, food miles, indoor plumbing, John Nash: game theory, Joseph Schumpeter, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, market design, microcredit, Milgram experiment, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, presumed consent, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit motive, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional

ORGAN TRANSPLANTS: The first successful long-term kidney transplant was performed at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston by Joseph Murray in December 1954, as related in Nicholas Tilney, Transplant: From Myth to Reality (Yale University Press, 2003). / 111 “Donorcyclists”: see Stacy Dickert-Conlin, Todd Elder, and Brian Moore, “Donorcycles: Do Motorcycle Helmet Laws Reduce Organ Donations?” Michigan State University working paper, 2009. / 111 “Presumed consent” laws in Europe: see Alberto Abadie and Sebastien Gay, “The Impact of Presumed Consent Legislation on Cadaveric Organ Donation: A Cross Country Study,” Journal of Health Economics 25, no. 4 (July 2006). / 112 The Iranian kidney program is described in Ahad J. Ghods and Shekoufeh Savaj, “Iranian Model of Paid and Regulated Living-Unrelated Kidney Donation,” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 1 (October 2006); and Benjamin E.

The normal supply of cadavers couldn’t keep up with the demand for organs. In the United States, the rate of traffic fatalities was declining, which was great news for drivers but bad news for patients awaiting a lifesaving kidney. (At least motorcycle deaths kept up, thanks in part to many state laws allowing motorcyclists—or, as transplant surgeons call them, “donorcyclists”—to ride without helmets.) In Europe, some countries passed laws of “presumed consent” rather than requesting that a person donate his organs in the event of an accident, the state assumed the right to harvest his organs unless he or his family specifically opted out. But even so, there were never enough kidneys to go around. Fortunately, cadavers aren’t the only source of organs. We are born with two kidneys but need only one to live—the second kidney is a happy evolutionary artifact—which means that a living donor can surrender one kidney to save someone’s life and still carry on a normal life himself.


pages: 387 words: 120,155

Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference by David Halpern


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, availability heuristic, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cognitive dissonance, collaborative consumption, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, endowment effect, happiness index / gross national happiness, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, libertarian paternalism, market design, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, nudge unit, peer-to-peer lending, pension reform, presumed consent, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, the built environment, theory of mind, traffic fines, World Values Survey

The Downing Street seminar on preventing littering and stopping fossilised wood being stolen was soon forgotten. Curiously, one of Prime Minister Brown’s smartest new political aids, Greg Beales, had worked on the original PMSU paper on behaviour change. In the new No. 10, Greg held responsibility for health. It’s no coincidence, then, that one early move of the Brown administration was to float the idea of changing the defaults on organ donation to ‘presumed consent’ – where people would opt out of being donors, rather than opt in. But even this was not quite the right fight for that time or issue. There was a public and professional backlash against the idea, and the last whisper of the old PMSU paper was silenced for now, in Britain at least.19 On the other side of the Atlantic, behavioural approaches to policy were about to get a major boost. CHAPTER 2 NUDGING GOES MAINSTREAM … we cannot meet 21st-century challenges with a 20th-century bureaucracy … Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient.

We all agreed that an early objective would be to try out some of the most prominent and best-evidenced ideas from the wider literature, and from the US in particular. These could provide some early quick wins, and help to establish the approach. For example, we suspected that a version of a successful ‘promoted choice’ approach to organ donation in Illinois could work well in the UK without needing to go for the ‘presumed consent’ method that had been proposed by the previous Brown government and abandoned in the face of public opposition. If it worked, it would be a nice illustration of the Coalition’s different approach, and of course would hopefully save a few lives. Other criteria for early priorities were that: the issue was a PM or DPM priority; the intervention was likely to be revenue-producing or saving (given the pressures on budgets); and the intervention was amenable to systematic testing and trialling, with good management data in place that we could use for measurement.

Oxford: Polity 17 The ‘Forward Strategy Unit’, created in 2001, formed a sister unit to the existing Performance and Innovation Unit created in the wake of the 1997 election. Both were later merged to form the PM’s Strategy Unit, which lasted until it was shut down by the 2010 Coalition Government of Cameron and Clegg in early 2011. 18 Cialdini, R. B. (2003). ‘Crafting normative messages to protect the environment’. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(4), 105–109. 19 Interestingly, the Welsh Government did continue to pursue the idea of presumed consent. Organ donation was also on the list of early topics for BIT in 2010, though with a subtly different solution in mind. Chapter 2: Nudging Goes Mainstream 1 In my view Richard Thaler’s work is sufficiently outstanding and impactful in its own right to merit the Nobel Prize in economics, a view I know to be shared by many others. For a recent and accessible overview of his work, see Thaler, R. (2015), Misbehaving: the Making of Behavioural Economics.


pages: 209 words: 89,619

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing


8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional

Those receiving the letter faced a designed ‘choice environment’, requiring a decision to opt out or be automatically covered. But there was no opt-out form included, so people wishing to do so had to go to a website, find a form to download, print it, sign it, send it as a letter to their general practitioner (GP) and hope it would be acted upon. Bureaucratic hurdles were deliberately raised, increasing the cost of opting out and giving a bias to ‘presumed consent’. Those least likely to opt out are the uneducated, the poor and the ‘digitally excluded’, mostly elderly without access to online facilities. As of 2010, 63 per cent of all those over the age of 65 in the United Kingdom lived in a household without internet access. There is government pressure, led by its ‘digital inclusion champion’, for more people to have access. And the cost of not having it is being raised.


pages: 350 words: 96,803

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution by Francis Fukuyama


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Columbine, demographic transition, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, impulse control, life extension, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, presumed consent, Ray Kurzweil, Scientific racism, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Turing test

state, the, origin of statistical science stem cell research ban on with existing “lines” stem cells sterilization, involuntarily Stock, Gregory Strickland, Ted subjective mental states subliminal repetition suffering of animals good points of minimizing suicide, assisted sulfanilamide elixir scandal “superbugs” superman surrogate motherhood Sweden Switzerland sympathy, the word Tabula Rasa talk therapy, vs. drug therapy Taoism Taylor, Charles Tay-Sachs disease technology “arms race” in change in, and obsolescence of skills as a force for historical change regulation of “telescreen” telomerase telomeres tenure in office, limiting Teresa, Mother testosterone, in utero thalidomide scandal Thatcher revolution therapy, drug- vs. talk-type therapy/enhancement distinction third parties, harm to, from individual choices Thomistic tradition Thompson, James Thorazine Three Mile Island Thurstone, L. L. thymos (spiritedness) time, concept of Tocqueville, Alexis de totalitarianism, collapse of transgenic crops Tribe, Laurence Trivers, Robert Tsien, Joe Turing test Turkey Tuskegee syphilis scandal twin studies typical, meaning of word tyranny failure of of the majority unborn presumed consent of rights of United Kingdom United Nations United States attitude toward regulation attitude toward technology demographic trends in family breakdown in international influence of, re regulation natural right as foundation of political system, effect on regulation principles of regulatory policy and practice U.S. Army, intelligence testing by U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S.


pages: 276 words: 93,430

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, meta analysis, meta-analysis, presumed consent, rolodex, WikiLeaks

Defecation is as strong an urge as ejaculation, yet society has taught humans of all genders to be fiercely private and respectful about this and not plop it all about like horses. Sane men do not lose control and begin masturbating in front of everybody at the party; they remain aware of right and wrong, of embarrassment and propriety, even when intoxicated. Respect for women’s bodies, whether they be asleep, or naked or drugged, should be learned like toilet training. It has to be taught. It’s too dangerous to presume consent is obvious and that anyone who gets it wrong is a bad person. This needs deep thought and conversations. And alcohol is a very complicating factor. There is a point of drunkenness where people are considered unable to give consent to various things, including sexual contact. There are multitudes of warnings aimed at young women, shouting about the dangers of being wasted and vulnerable, while there is virtually nothing aimed at educating young men.


pages: 798 words: 240,182

The Transhumanist Reader by Max More, Natasha Vita-More


23andMe, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cellular automata, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, data acquisition, discovery of DNA, Drosophila,, experimental subject, Extropian, fault tolerance, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, friendly AI, game design, germ theory of disease, hypertext link, impulse control, index fund, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, P = NP, pattern recognition, phenotype, positional goods, prediction markets, presumed consent, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, RFID, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, silicon-based life, Singularitarianism, stem cell, stochastic process, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, the built environment, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce

Allhoff then contends that such enhancements would be permissible if every future ­generation would consent to them. But the requirement that all future generations must consent adds nothing to the moral force of Allhoff’s arguments since already all rational agents would consent to such enhancements. So again, safe genetic interventions that improve a prospective child’s health, cognition, and so forth would be morally permissible because we can presume consent from the individuals who benefit from the enhancements. Many opponents of human genetic engineering are either conscious or unconscious genetic determinists. They fear that biotechnological knowledge and practice will somehow undermine human freedom. In a sense, these genetic determinists believe that somehow human freedom resides in the gaps of our knowledge of our genetic makeup. If parents are allowed to choose their children’s genes, then they will have damaged their children’s autonomy and freedom.