Every time we develop a new technology, we take a risk. Some technologies are dangerous and it may be that sometime in the future we will develop a technology which will mean the end of humanity. In a recent paper Bostrom makes this point by using the analogy of drawing balls from an urn. Progress means drawing balls from the urn, and as a result means running this risk.
This is unfortunate because for many people also think growth and progress are the best ways for creating the world we want. Among them, Tyler Cowen who recently published the book Stubborn Attachments. In this episode I compare and contrast these two views. Perhaps we can have growth and avoid bad technology, but as far as we can tell, no one ever has...
I had a discussion with a friend recently who claimed that I other similarly dispassionate blogs (read rationalists) were providing intellectual cover for bad people, in particular men's rights activists and militant incels. I look into that claim, and ultimately find it to be... Listen to the podcast for the dramatic reveal!
In the 90s there were two theories for the future. Fukuyama's "End of History" and Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations". Now that more than two decades has passed it seems obvious that Huntington was the more prescient. But even Huntington may have insufficiently accounted for the effects of technology on civilizations, particularly it's power to divide civilizations internally, something which is present on everyone's mind as we think about the results of the most recent election. Most people understate the importance of religion, Huntington does not, and this makes things even more complicated.
A recent book asks, "What's Wrong with China?" Well perhaps a lot, but for the purposes of this podcast I'm just looking at how very different China is from the US or the West, far different than most people think. Particularly those people who expect China to smoothly transition to something indistinguishable from a modern western democracy.