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Blogs: Ego Upgrade

PT Bloggers on selecting artificial enhancements.

With all of the current and future opportunities for artificial enhancement of mental traits (medications, brain implants, etc.), are there abilities you would not want to enhance in yourself? We asked PT 's bloggers ( ) what they would shy away from.

Mental X-Ray

When I was a teenager I wanted a mental machine that would describe for me the secrets of the heart of the girls I was dating. Now I no longer want such a machine to be invented. First, I can usually sense feelings without the machine—and if I don't have the sensitivity to do so, there's something wrong with the relationship. Second, I value the other person's privacy. — Aaron Ben-Ze'ev (In the Name of Love)

Shame on Me

I would not want to enhance one's ability to block out the sense of shame or guilt; these emotions help stabilize society and provide disincentives for destructive behavior. Without shame or guilt, we would fail to learn effectively from mistakes. These fundamental emotions are at the core of what it means to be human. — Andrew Rosenthal (Happier)

A Life of Excess

I would never give up the joy I get from fancy food that is longer on pleasure than nutrition, the rapture from listening to music, or the ecstasy of recreational sex. Some hyper-efficient creature of the future might do without such luxuries, but I'm perfectly happy to while away my hours in ways that do nothing for my selfish genes. — Gary Marcus (Kluge)

Collective Memory

If the day comes when I'm asked if I want a book or painting "programmed" into my brain, I will decline. There is something about the stroll through a museum and the mystery of turning a corner that I want to experience and not simply "remember" because it was part of a brain implant that anyone else could buy. — Christopher Ramey (The Metaphorical Mind)

Everyone's a Self-Critic

Is self-consciousness that Great Inhibitor preventing us from approaching a potential lover, nudging us gently to something less? Or do we need self-consciousness to avoid hubris and its evil twin, obnoxiousness? Or is self-consciousness needed for its most pedestrian function: assuring ourselves that we are not venturing into public with a piece of spinach caught between our front teeth? — Mark Borigini (Overcoming Pain)

Unintended Consequences

The human mind balances a huge set of trade-offs. For example, if we remembered every incident with absolute clarity, we would never forget a phone number, but painful memories also would not fade with time. In addition, our ability to think abstractly may also be related to our inability to remember every last detail of every event. We should tread carefully. — Art Markman (Ulterior Motives)

Beg to Differ

Noah Goldstein ( Yes! ) received a storm of comments on his post about getting your way with customer service representatives. Tell the rep you plan to write a nice note to his supervisor, he advised. Several CSRs disagreed with the tactic. According to "Cari Ann," "All you really need to do for a customer service agent—even if you are causing more work—is JUST BE NICE... I for one do not feel comfortable with the 'you scratch my back' thing."