The five senses (sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing) are not equal. When someone can’t feel (at all or, more commonly, just feel pain) that person is probably not going to live very long. A lack of touch is a fatal disability. On the other end of the spectrum, people who can’t smell or taste things are pretty much OK. Maybe you can’t cook by taste or smell smoke from a fire, but your day to day life won’t be hindered that much. Loss of sight or hearing is right there in the middle – a lot worse than not being able to taste or smell, but quite a bit better than being unable to feel.

My point is that we tend to focus on problems that fit a kind of Goldilocks Rule of not too bad and not too mundane. It makes me wonder how that affects our research into transhumanism. We often talk about prosthetics and gene therapy and AI superbrains, but maybe we should be focusing more on simpler problems, like improving the notoriously fickle GI tract in humans or perhaps making dentistry less barbaric. Or maybe the simpler problems are subsumed in the research going into the bigger problems.

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