>Risks of Prohibition

>Over at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok writes:

I understand that some people don’t want to expand the human lifespan beyond its
“natural” limits but I object to their preventing others from doing so just
because they don’t like the sight of sprightly senior citizens.

Not only should we object to others preventing people from enhancing themselves, we should fear the social consequences of such prohibition. Some people are certainly going to want enhancements like longer lives, greater intelligence, or better appearance. Prohibition wouldn’t stop people from wanting those things, it would simply create a black market. And in a black market:

  1. Prices would rise, exacerbating any economic-access-to-enhancement ills.
  2. Safety would suffer, as black market vendors are seldom incented to comply with safety regulations.
  3. Science – including such things as long term studies of safety and effectiveness of these techniques – would suffer as they were pulled out of the public domain.

In short, prohibition of enhancements would itself produce social ills.