why safetyism — and not climate change or artificial intelligence — has become one of the biggest existential risks facing humanity
Depressingly good read.
Great piece. In gratitude, I offer up Galileo's apocryphal quote with a nuclear twist.
"And yet it splits."
The fire rises!
The 'safety first' mantra has been suffocating our civilization for decades now, and people are starting to push back. You see it everywhere, not just in limits on technical development, but also in the sclerotic rate of infrastructure construction, our timid exploration of space, and the ongoing tyranny of public health measures that reached their deranged zenith during the lockdowns.
The philosopher Charles Eisenstein just wrote this:
And my own contribution to the subject, from several months ago, which takes a more polemical approach to this insipid doctrine:
"Given time’s annoying habit of only moving in one direction, we have no choice but to live in somebody’s future — the question is whether it’s somebody with a plan or somebody with a neurosis."
This is a rare moment for me. This line made me stop reading and think about this for a few minutes all on its own. I never thought of it that way. 🤔 So brilliant.
As a working parent who was very, very affected by COVID protocols (my son with serious special needs had his therapy totally cut off amongst the many other ulcer inducing horrors of that era) this really reminds me of society's response to not just new tech development but many other kinds of risks (e.g., COVID, airport security, some regulatory regimes). No balanced risk analysis or cost / benefit analysis, just fear mongering and security theater made worse by a hysterical media that is committed to keeping *insert fear here* in everyone's faces at all times in order to drive their advertising-based revenue models.
Good essay on a great and timely subject. We have traded our wild nature for the perceived convenient "safety" of civilized, domesticated, eternal bliss.
A safe is a metal box I don't want to live in. Terminator 2 and the Bible - two works of art that are becoming increasingly relevant!
Does anyone else have the feeling that saferyism is a half-step away from Luddism?
🗨 Just as Big Pharma knew their opioids would hack our endorphin receptors, just as Big Tech knew social media “likes” would hack our dopamine pathways, so AI companies know their chatbots will hack our anthropomorphic bias.
I've read a number of posts on this blog I would consider "poorly conceived" but this is remarkably so. There is little to no evidence to suggest that, for example gain of function research that goes further than modification of viruses to make them easier to culture for the purposes of vaccine manufacture has had any impact whatsoever on policies regarding pandemic response.
Furthermore, stating that "nuclear power" is the primary outcome of research into nuclear weapons, and not several decades where humanity came very, *very* close to killing billions of people (look up Vasily Arkhipov) a threat that continues to loom over us, is bizzare.
This post reads like someone who, has, frankly, never engaged with any of the literature on the topics he's writing about, or has even heard of the concept "The unilateralists curse" which is bizarre, because I know you have!
I am also trying to encourage more appreciation for the enormous potential benefits of AI and the risks of regulation. I've introduced the term "existential opportunity." https://maxmore.substack.com/p/existential-risk-vs-existential-opportunity