Mapping the debate about desirable futures

We can map talk about desirable futures along several axes. Here are a few:

  1. Axiology: partial or impartial (human prejudice vs view from nowhere).

  2. Metaethics: naturalism vs non-naturalism (orthogonality thesis; alignment problem).

  3. Evolution: fatalism or agency (inevitable vs contingent).

  4. Rationality: ecological vs axiological (maxipok or maximise across the multiverse).

The philosophical questions above inform the more empirical debates about emerging technologies, such as:

  1. Optimal rate of change: slow vs fast (or mixed).

  2. Competition vs governance.

  3. Convergence.

What are some other important axes? What are the most plausible combinations? Where do key thinkers land on these?

I find it surprisingly hard to name more than a handful of people who have written on all of the above in public.

But I’ll have a go at placing people on these axes in a forthcoming post.

For now I’ll just note that there’s too much complexity here. Ultimately we need to distill our views down into some rough rules of thumb and faint guiding stars, then just chart a path through the froth of uncertainty (with wonder, vigour and Yes-saying).

As part of this, we need a vibe. e/acc is naive. Safety-ism lacks charisma. It’s time to build is good, but tainted by association with Marc’s recent screed.

As usual I’m back to Tyler—“be a builder:

Tyler Cowen: Uncertainty should not paralyze you. Try to do your best, pursue maximum expected value, and just avoid the moral nervousness. Be a little Straussian about it. Like here’s a rule, on average it’s a good rule, we’re all gonna follow it. Bravo, go on to the next thing. Be a builder.

Joe Walker: Get on with it?

Tyler Cowen: Yes. Because ultimately the nervous Nellies, they’re not philosophically sophisticated, they’re overindulging in their own neuroticism when you get right down to it. So it’s not like there’s some brute let’s be a builder’ view and then in contrast there’s some deeper wisdom that the real philosophers pursue. It’s: you be a builder or you’re a nervous Nelly. Take your pick. I say be a builder.

Also: be a two-thirds utilitarian.

And: be a Yes-sayer.

Sometimes I think that get on with it” is the push I need too. Why am I constantly pulled back to philosophy?

Writing futurism evolution ai metaethics